THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER

BY

MARK TWAIN

(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

 

P R E F A C E

 

MOST of the adventures recorded in this book really occurred; one or

two were experiences of my own, the rest those of boys who were

schoolmates of mine. Huck Finn is drawn from life; Tom Sawyer also, but

not from an individual--he is a combination of the characteristics of

three boys whom I knew, and therefore belongs to the composite order of

architecture.

 

The odd superstitions touched upon were all prevalent among children

and slaves in the West at the period of this story--that is to say,

thirty or forty years ago.

 

Although my book is intended mainly for the entertainment of boys and

girls, I hope it will not be shunned by men and women on that account,

for part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what

they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked,

and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in.

 

                                                            THE AUTHOR.

 

HARTFORD, 1876.

 

 

 

                          T O M   S A W Y E R

 

 

 

CHAPTER I

 

"TOM!"

 

No answer.

 

"TOM!"

 

No answer.

 

"What's gone with that boy,  I wonder? You TOM!"

 

No answer.

 

The old lady pulled her spectacles down and looked over them about the

room; then she put them up and looked out under them. She seldom or

never looked THROUGH them for so small a thing as a boy; they were her

state pair, the pride of her heart, and were built for "style," not

service--she could have seen through a pair of stove-lids just as well.

She looked perplexed for a moment, and then said, not fiercely, but

still loud enough for the furniture to hear:

 

"Well, I lay if I get hold of you I'll--"

 

She did not finish, for by this time she was bending down and punching

under the bed with the broom, and so she needed breath to punctuate the

punches with. She resurrected nothing but the cat.

 

"I never did see the beat of that boy!"

 

She went to the open door and stood in it and looked out among the

tomato vines and "jimpson" weeds that constituted the garden. No Tom.

So she lifted up her voice at an angle calculated for distance and

shouted:

 

"Y-o-u-u TOM!"

 

There was a slight noise behind her and she turned just in time to

seize a small boy by the slack of his roundabout and arrest his flight.

 

"There! I might 'a' thought of that closet. What you been doing in

there?"

 

"Nothing."

 

"Nothing! Look at your hands. And look at your mouth. What IS that

truck?"

 

"I don't know, aunt."

 

"Well, I know. It's jam--that's what it is. Forty times I've said if

you didn't let that jam alone I'd skin you. Hand me that switch."

 

The switch hovered in the air--the peril was desperate--

 

"My! Look behind you, aunt!"

 

The old lady whirled round, and snatched her skirts out of danger. The

lad fled on the instant, scrambled up the high board-fence, and

disappeared over it.

 

His aunt Polly stood surprised a moment, and then broke into a gentle

laugh.

 

"Hang the boy, can't I never learn anything? Ain't he played me tricks

enough like that for me to be looking out for him by this time? But old

fools is the biggest fools there is. Can't learn an old dog new tricks,

as the saying is. But my goodness, he never plays them alike, two days,

and how is a body to know what's coming? He 'pears to know just how

long he can torment me before I get my dander up, and he knows if he

can make out to put me off for a minute or make me laugh, it's all down

again and I can't hit him a lick. I ain't doing my duty by that boy,

and that's the Lord's truth, goodness knows. Spare the rod and spile

the child, as the Good Book says. I'm a laying up sin and suffering for

us both, I know. He's full of the Old Scratch, but laws-a-me! he's my

own dead sister's boy, poor thing, and I ain't got the heart to lash

him, somehow. Every time I let him off, my conscience does hurt me so,

and every time I hit him my old heart most breaks. Well-a-well, man

that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble, as the

Scripture says, and I reckon it's so. He'll play hookey this evening, *

and [* Southwestern for "afternoon"] I'll just be obleeged to make him

work, to-morrow, to punish him. It's mighty hard to make him work

Saturdays, when all the boys is having holiday, but he hates work more

than he hates anything else, and I've GOT to do some of my duty by him,

or I'll be the ruination of the child."

 

Tom did play hookey, and he had a very good time. He got back home

barely in season to help Jim, the small colored boy, saw next-day's

wood and split the kindlings before supper--at least he was there in

time to tell his adventures to Jim while Jim did three-fourths of the

work. Tom's younger brother (or rather half-brother) Sid was already

through with his part of the work (picking up chips), for he was a

quiet boy, and had no adventurous, troublesome ways.

 

While Tom was eating his supper, and stealing sugar as opportunity

offered, Aunt Polly asked him questions that were full of guile, and

very deep--for she wanted to trap him into damaging revealments. Like

many other simple-hearted souls, it was her pet vanity to believe she

was endowed with a talent for dark and mysterious diplomacy, and she

loved to contemplate her most transparent devices as marvels of low

cunning. Said she:

 

"Tom, it was middling warm in school, warn't it?"

 

"Yes'm."

 

"Powerful warm, warn't it?"

 

"Yes'm."

 

"Didn't you want to go in a-swimming, Tom?"

 

A bit of a scare shot through Tom--a touch of uncomfortable suspicion.

He searched Aunt Polly's face, but it told him nothing. So he said:

 

"No'm--well, not very much."

 

The old lady reached out her hand and felt Tom's shirt, and said:

 

"But you ain't too warm now, though." And it flattered her to reflect

that she had discovered that the shirt was dry without anybody knowing

that that was what she had in her mind. But in spite of her, Tom knew

where the wind lay, now. So he forestalled what might be the next move:

 

"Some of us pumped on our heads--mine's damp yet. See?"

 

Aunt Polly was vexed to think she had overlooked that bit of

circumstantial evidence, and missed a trick. Then she had a new

inspiration:

 

"Tom, you didn't have to undo your shirt collar where I sewed it, to

pump on your head, did you? Unbutton your jacket!"

 

The trouble vanished out of Tom's face. He opened his jacket. His

shirt collar was securely sewed.

 

"Bother! Well, go 'long with you. I'd made sure you'd played hookey

and been a-swimming. But I forgive ye, Tom. I reckon you're a kind of a

singed cat, as the saying is--better'n you look. THIS time."

 

She was half sorry her sagacity had miscarried, and half glad that Tom

had stumbled into obedient conduct for once.

 

But Sidney said:

 

"Well, now, if I didn't think you sewed his collar with white thread,

but it's black."

 

"Why, I did sew it with white! Tom!"

 

But Tom did not wait for the rest. As he went out at the door he said:

 

"Siddy, I'll lick you for that."

 

In a safe place Tom examined two large needles which were thrust into

the lapels of his jacket, and had thread bound about them--one needle

carried white thread and the other black. He said:

 

"She'd never noticed if it hadn't been for Sid. Confound it! sometimes

she sews it with white, and sometimes she sews it with black. I wish to

geeminy she'd stick to one or t'other--I can't keep the run of 'em. But

I bet you I'll lam Sid for that. I'll learn him!"

 

He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very

well though--and loathed him.

 

Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles.

Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to him

than a man's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest bore

them down and drove them out of his mind for the time--just as men's

misfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. This

new interest was a valued novelty in whistling, which he had just

acquired from a negro, and he was suffering to practise it undisturbed.

It consisted in a peculiar bird-like turn, a sort of liquid warble,

produced by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth at short

intervals in the midst of the music--the reader probably remembers how

to do it, if he has ever been a boy. Diligence and attention soon gave

him the knack of it, and he strode down the street with his mouth full

of harmony and his soul full of gratitude. He felt much as an

astronomer feels who has discovered a new planet--no doubt, as far as

strong, deep, unalloyed pleasure is concerned, the advantage was with

the boy, not the astronomer.

 

The summer evenings were long. It was not dark, yet. Presently Tom

checked his whistle. A stranger was before him--a boy a shade larger

than himself. A new-comer of any age or either sex was an impressive

curiosity in the poor little shabby village of St. Petersburg. This boy

was well dressed, too--well dressed on a week-day. This was simply

astounding. His cap was a dainty thing, his close-buttoned blue cloth

roundabout was new and natty, and so were his pantaloons. He had shoes

on--and it was only Friday. He even wore a necktie, a bright bit of

ribbon. He had a citified air about him that ate into Tom's vitals. The

more Tom stared at the splendid marvel, the higher he turned up his

nose at his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his own outfit seemed

to him to grow. Neither boy spoke. If one moved, the other moved--but

only sidewise, in a circle; they kept face to face and eye to eye all

the time. Finally Tom said:

 

"I can lick you!"

 

"I'd like to see you try it."

 

"Well, I can do it."

 

"No you can't, either."

 

"Yes I can."

 

"No you can't."

 

"I can."

 

"You can't."

 

"Can!"

 

"Can't!"

 

An uncomfortable pause. Then Tom said:

 

"What's your name?"

 

"'Tisn't any of your business, maybe."

 

"Well I 'low I'll MAKE it my business."

 

"Well why don't you?"

 

"If you say much, I will."

 

"Much--much--MUCH. There now."

 

"Oh, you think you're mighty smart, DON'T you? I could lick you with

one hand tied behind me, if I wanted to."

 

"Well why don't you DO it? You SAY you can do it."

 

"Well I WILL, if you fool with me."

 

"Oh yes--I've seen whole families in the same fix."

 

"Smarty! You think you're SOME, now, DON'T you? Oh, what a hat!"

 

"You can lump that hat if you don't like it. I dare you to knock it

off--and anybody that'll take a dare will suck eggs."

 

"You're a liar!"

 

"You're another."

 

"You're a fighting liar and dasn't take it up."

 

"Aw--take a walk!"

 

"Say--if you give me much more of your sass I'll take and bounce a

rock off'n your head."

 

"Oh, of COURSE you will."

 

"Well I WILL."

 

"Well why don't you DO it then? What do you keep SAYING you will for?

Why don't you DO it? It's because you're afraid."

 

"I AIN'T afraid."

 

"You are."

 

"I ain't."

 

"You are."

 

Another pause, and more eying and sidling around each other. Presently

they were shoulder to shoulder. Tom said:

 

"Get away from here!"

 

"Go away yourself!"

 

"I won't."

 

"I won't either."

 

So they stood, each with a foot placed at an angle as a brace, and

both shoving with might and main, and glowering at each other with

hate. But neither could get an advantage. After struggling till both

were hot and flushed, each relaxed his strain with watchful caution,

and Tom said:

 

"You're a coward and a pup. I'll tell my big brother on you, and he

can thrash you with his little finger, and I'll make him do it, too."

 

"What do I care for your big brother? I've got a brother that's bigger

than he is--and what's more, he can throw him over that fence, too."

[Both brothers were imaginary.]

 

"That's a lie."

 

"YOUR saying so don't make it so."

 

Tom drew a line in the dust with his big toe, and said:

 

"I dare you to step over that, and I'll lick you till you can't stand

up. Anybody that'll take a dare will steal sheep."

 

The new boy stepped over promptly, and said:

 

"Now you said you'd do it, now let's see you do it."

 

"Don't you crowd me now; you better look out."

 

"Well, you SAID you'd do it--why don't you do it?"

 

"By jingo! for two cents I WILL do it."

 

The new boy took two broad coppers out of his pocket and held them out

with derision. Tom struck them to the ground. In an instant both boys

were rolling and tumbling in the dirt, gripped together like cats; and

for the space of a minute they tugged and tore at each other's hair and

clothes, punched and scratched each other's nose, and covered

themselves with dust and glory. Presently the confusion took form, and

through the fog of battle Tom appeared, seated astride the new boy, and

pounding him with his fists. "Holler 'nuff!" said he.

 

The boy only struggled to free himself. He was crying--mainly from rage.

 

"Holler 'nuff!"--and the pounding went on.

 

At last the stranger got out a smothered "'Nuff!" and Tom let him up

and said:

 

"Now that'll learn you. Better look out who you're fooling with next

time."

 

The new boy went off brushing the dust from his clothes, sobbing,

snuffling, and occasionally looking back and shaking his head and

threatening what he would do to Tom the "next time he caught him out."

To which Tom responded with jeers, and started off in high feather, and

as soon as his back was turned the new boy snatched up a stone, threw

it and hit him between the shoulders and then turned tail and ran like

an antelope. Tom chased the traitor home, and thus found out where he

lived. He then held a position at the gate for some time, daring the

enemy to come outside, but the enemy only made faces at him through the

window and declined. At last the enemy's mother appeared, and called

Tom a bad, vicious, vulgar child, and ordered him away. So he went

away; but he said he "'lowed" to "lay" for that boy.

 

He got home pretty late that night, and when he climbed cautiously in

at the window, he uncovered an ambuscade, in the person of his aunt;

and when she saw the state his clothes were in her resolution to turn

his Saturday holiday into captivity at hard labor became adamantine in

its firmness.

 

 

 

CHAPTER II

 

SATURDAY morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and

fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if

the heart was young the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in

every face and a spring in every step. The locust-trees were in bloom

and the fragrance of the blossoms filled the air. Cardiff Hill, beyond

the village and above it, was green with vegetation and it lay just far

enough away to seem a Delectable Land, dreamy, reposeful, and inviting.

 

Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a

long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and

a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board

fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a

burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost

plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant

whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed

fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged. Jim came skipping out at

the gate with a tin pail, and singing Buffalo Gals. Bringing water from

the town pump had always been hateful work in Tom's eyes, before, but

now it did not strike him so. He remembered that there was company at

the pump. White, mulatto, and negro boys and girls were always there

waiting their turns, resting, trading playthings, quarrelling,

fighting, skylarking. And he remembered that although the pump was only

a hundred and fifty yards off, Jim never got back with a bucket of

water under an hour--and even then somebody generally had to go after

him. Tom said:

 

"Say, Jim, I'll fetch the water if you'll whitewash some."

 

Jim shook his head and said:

 

"Can't, Mars Tom. Ole missis, she tole me I got to go an' git dis

water an' not stop foolin' roun' wid anybody. She say she spec' Mars

Tom gwine to ax me to whitewash, an' so she tole me go 'long an' 'tend

to my own business--she 'lowed SHE'D 'tend to de whitewashin'."

 

"Oh, never you mind what she said, Jim. That's the way she always

talks. Gimme the bucket--I won't be gone only a a minute. SHE won't

ever know."

 

"Oh, I dasn't, Mars Tom. Ole missis she'd take an' tar de head off'n

me. 'Deed she would."

 

"SHE! She never licks anybody--whacks 'em over the head with her

thimble--and who cares for that, I'd like to know. She talks awful, but

talk don't hurt--anyways it don't if she don't cry. Jim, I'll give you

a marvel. I'll give you a white alley!"

 

Jim began to waver.

 

"White alley, Jim! And it's a bully taw."

 

"My! Dat's a mighty gay marvel, I tell you! But Mars Tom I's powerful

'fraid ole missis--"

 

"And besides, if you will I'll show you my sore toe."

 

Jim was only human--this attraction was too much for him. He put down

his pail, took the white alley, and bent over the toe with absorbing

interest while the bandage was being unwound. In another moment he was

flying down the street with his pail and a tingling rear, Tom was

whitewashing with vigor, and Aunt Polly was retiring from the field

with a slipper in her hand and triumph in her eye.

 

But Tom's energy did not last. He began to think of the fun he had

planned for this day, and his sorrows multiplied. Soon the free boys

would come tripping along on all sorts of delicious expeditions, and

they would make a world of fun of him for having to work--the very

thought of it burnt him like fire. He got out his worldly wealth and

examined it--bits of toys, marbles, and trash; enough to buy an

exchange of WORK, maybe, but not half enough to buy so much as half an

hour of pure freedom. So he returned his straitened means to his

pocket, and gave up the idea of trying to buy the boys. At this dark

and hopeless moment an inspiration burst upon him! Nothing less than a

great, magnificent inspiration.

 

He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. Ben Rogers hove in

sight presently--the very boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been

dreading. Ben's gait was the hop-skip-and-jump--proof enough that his

heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and

giving a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned

ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat. As

he drew near, he slackened speed, took the middle of the street, leaned

far over to starboard and rounded to ponderously and with laborious

pomp and circumstance--for he was personating the Big Missouri, and

considered himself to be drawing nine feet of water. He was boat and

captain and engine-bells combined, so he had to imagine himself

standing on his own hurricane-deck giving the orders and executing them:

 

"Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!" The headway ran almost out, and he

drew up slowly toward the sidewalk.

 

"Ship up to back! Ting-a-ling-ling!" His arms straightened and

stiffened down his sides.

 

"Set her back on the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow! ch-chow-wow!

Chow!" His right hand, meantime, describing stately circles--for it was

representing a forty-foot wheel.

 

"Let her go back on the labboard! Ting-a-lingling! Chow-ch-chow-chow!"

The left hand began to describe circles.

 

"Stop the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Stop the labboard! Come ahead

on the stabboard! Stop her! Let your outside turn over slow!

Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ow-ow! Get out that head-line! LIVELY now!

Come--out with your spring-line--what're you about there! Take a turn

round that stump with the bight of it! Stand by that stage, now--let her

go! Done with the engines, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling! SH'T! S'H'T! SH'T!"

(trying the gauge-cocks).

 

Tom went on whitewashing--paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben

stared a moment and then said: "Hi-YI! YOU'RE up a stump, ain't you!"

 

No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then

he gave his brush another gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as

before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom's mouth watered for the

apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said:

 

"Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?"

 

Tom wheeled suddenly and said:

 

"Why, it's you, Ben! I warn't noticing."

 

"Say--I'm going in a-swimming, I am. Don't you wish you could? But of

course you'd druther WORK--wouldn't you? Course you would!"

 

Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

 

"What do you call work?"

 

"Why, ain't THAT work?"

 

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:

 

"Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain't. All I know, is, it suits Tom

Sawyer."

 

"Oh come, now, you don't mean to let on that you LIKE it?"

 

The brush continued to move.

 

"Like it? Well, I don't see why I oughtn't to like it. Does a boy get

a chance to whitewash a fence every day?"

 

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom

swept his brush daintily back and forth--stepped back to note the

effect--added a touch here and there--criticised the effect again--Ben

watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more

absorbed. Presently he said:

 

"Say, Tom, let ME whitewash a little."

 

Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:

 

"No--no--I reckon it wouldn't hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly's

awful particular about this fence--right here on the street, you know

--but if it was the back fence I wouldn't mind and SHE wouldn't. Yes,

she's awful particular about this fence; it's got to be done very

careful; I reckon there ain't one boy in a thousand, maybe two

thousand, that can do it the way it's got to be done."

 

"No--is that so? Oh come, now--lemme just try. Only just a little--I'd

let YOU, if you was me, Tom."

 

"Ben, I'd like to, honest injun; but Aunt Polly--well, Jim wanted to

do it, but she wouldn't let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn't

let Sid. Now don't you see how I'm fixed? If you was to tackle this

fence and anything was to happen to it--"

 

"Oh, shucks, I'll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say--I'll give

you the core of my apple."

 

"Well, here--No, Ben, now don't. I'm afeard--"

 

"I'll give you ALL of it!"

 

Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his

heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in

the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by,

dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more

innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every

little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time

Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for

a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in

for a dead rat and a string to swing it with--and so on, and so on,

hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being

a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling

in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles,

part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a

spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk,

a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six

fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass doorknob, a

dog-collar--but no dog--the handle of a knife, four pieces of

orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.

 

He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while--plenty of company

--and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn't run out

of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.

 

Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He

had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it--namely,

that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only

necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great

and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have

comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do,

and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And

this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers

or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or

climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in

England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles

on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them

considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service,

that would turn it into work and then they would resign.

 

The boy mused awhile over the substantial change which had taken place

in his worldly circumstances, and then wended toward headquarters to

report.

 

 

 

CHAPTER III

 

TOM presented himself before Aunt Polly, who was sitting by an open

window in a pleasant rearward apartment, which was bedroom,

breakfast-room, dining-room, and library, combined. The balmy summer

air, the restful quiet, the odor of the flowers, and the drowsing murmur

of the bees had had their effect, and she was nodding over her knitting

--for she had no company but the cat, and it was asleep in her lap. Her

spectacles were propped up on her gray head for safety. She had thought

that of course Tom had deserted long ago, and she wondered at seeing him

place himself in her power again in this intrepid way. He said: "Mayn't

I go and play now, aunt?"

 

"What, a'ready? How much have you done?"

 

"It's all done, aunt."

 

"Tom, don't lie to me--I can't bear it."

 

"I ain't, aunt; it IS all done."

 

Aunt Polly placed small trust in such evidence. She went out to see

for herself; and she would have been content to find twenty per cent.

of Tom's statement true. When she found the entire fence whitewashed,

and not only whitewashed but elaborately coated and recoated, and even

a streak added to the ground, her astonishment was almost unspeakable.

She said:

 

"Well, I never! There's no getting round it, you can work when you're

a mind to, Tom." And then she diluted the compliment by adding, "But

it's powerful seldom you're a mind to, I'm bound to say. Well, go 'long

and play; but mind you get back some time in a week, or I'll tan you."

 

She was so overcome by the splendor of his achievement that she took

him into the closet and selected a choice apple and delivered it to

him, along with an improving lecture upon the added value and flavor a

treat took to itself when it came without sin through virtuous effort.

And while she closed with a happy Scriptural flourish, he "hooked" a

doughnut.

 

Then he skipped out, and saw Sid just starting up the outside stairway

that led to the back rooms on the second floor. Clods were handy and

the air was full of them in a twinkling. They raged around Sid like a

hail-storm; and before Aunt Polly could collect her surprised faculties

and sally to the rescue, six or seven clods had taken personal effect,

and Tom was over the fence and gone. There was a gate, but as a general

thing he was too crowded for time to make use of it. His soul was at

peace, now that he had settled with Sid for calling attention to his

black thread and getting him into trouble.

 

Tom skirted the block, and came round into a muddy alley that led by

the back of his aunt's cow-stable. He presently got safely beyond the

reach of capture and punishment, and hastened toward the public square

of the village, where two "military" companies of boys had met for

conflict, according to previous appointment. Tom was General of one of

these armies, Joe Harper (a bosom friend) General of the other. These

two great commanders did not condescend to fight in person--that being

better suited to the still smaller fry--but sat together on an eminence

and conducted the field operations by orders delivered through

aides-de-camp. Tom's army won a great victory, after a long and

hard-fought battle. Then the dead were counted, prisoners exchanged,

the terms of the next disagreement agreed upon, and the day for the

necessary battle appointed; after which the armies fell into line and

marched away, and Tom turned homeward alone.

 

As he was passing by the house where Jeff Thatcher lived, he saw a new

girl in the garden--a lovely little blue-eyed creature with yellow hair

plaited into two long-tails, white summer frock and embroidered

pantalettes. The fresh-crowned hero fell without firing a shot. A

certain Amy Lawrence vanished out of his heart and left not even a

memory of herself behind. He had thought he loved her to distraction;

he had regarded his passion as adoration; and behold it was only a poor

little evanescent partiality. He had been months winning her; she had

confessed hardly a week ago; he had been the happiest and the proudest

boy in the world only seven short days, and here in one instant of time

she had gone out of his heart like a casual stranger whose visit is

done.

 

He worshipped this new angel with furtive eye, till he saw that she

had discovered him; then he pretended he did not know she was present,

and began to "show off" in all sorts of absurd boyish ways, in order to

win her admiration. He kept up this grotesque foolishness for some

time; but by-and-by, while he was in the midst of some dangerous

gymnastic performances, he glanced aside and saw that the little girl

was wending her way toward the house. Tom came up to the fence and

leaned on it, grieving, and hoping she would tarry yet awhile longer.

She halted a moment on the steps and then moved toward the door. Tom

heaved a great sigh as she put her foot on the threshold. But his face

lit up, right away, for she tossed a pansy over the fence a moment

before she disappeared.

 

The boy ran around and stopped within a foot or two of the flower, and

then shaded his eyes with his hand and began to look down street as if

he had discovered something of interest going on in that direction.

Presently he picked up a straw and began trying to balance it on his

nose, with his head tilted far back; and as he moved from side to side,

in his efforts, he edged nearer and nearer toward the pansy; finally

his bare foot rested upon it, his pliant toes closed upon it, and he

hopped away with the treasure and disappeared round the corner. But

only for a minute--only while he could button the flower inside his

jacket, next his heart--or next his stomach, possibly, for he was not

much posted in anatomy, and not hypercritical, anyway.

 

He returned, now, and hung about the fence till nightfall, "showing

off," as before; but the girl never exhibited herself again, though Tom

comforted himself a little with the hope that she had been near some

window, meantime, and been aware of his attentions. Finally he strode

home reluctantly, with his poor head full of visions.

 

All through supper his spirits were so high that his aunt wondered

"what had got into the child." He took a good scolding about clodding

Sid, and did not seem to mind it in the least. He tried to steal sugar

under his aunt's very nose, and got his knuckles rapped for it. He said:

 

"Aunt, you don't whack Sid when he takes it."

 

"Well, Sid don't torment a body the way you do. You'd be always into

that sugar if I warn't watching you."

 

Presently she stepped into the kitchen, and Sid, happy in his

immunity, reached for the sugar-bowl--a sort of glorying over Tom which

was wellnigh unbearable. But Sid's fingers slipped and the bowl dropped

and broke. Tom was in ecstasies. In such ecstasies that he even

controlled his tongue and was silent. He said to himself that he would

not speak a word, even when his aunt came in, but would sit perfectly

still till she asked who did the mischief; and then he would tell, and

there would be nothing so good in the world as to see that pet model

"catch it." He was so brimful of exultation that he could hardly hold

himself when the old lady came back and stood above the wreck

discharging lightnings of wrath from over her spectacles. He said to

himself, "Now it's coming!" And the next instant he was sprawling on

the floor! The potent palm was uplifted to strike again when Tom cried

out:

 

"Hold on, now, what 'er you belting ME for?--Sid broke it!"

 

Aunt Polly paused, perplexed, and Tom looked for healing pity. But

when she got her tongue again, she only said:

 

"Umf! Well, you didn't get a lick amiss, I reckon. You been into some

other audacious mischief when I wasn't around, like enough."

 

Then her conscience reproached her, and she yearned to say something

kind and loving; but she judged that this would be construed into a

confession that she had been in the wrong, and discipline forbade that.

So she kept silence, and went about her affairs with a troubled heart.

Tom sulked in a corner and exalted his woes. He knew that in her heart

his aunt was on her knees to him, and he was morosely gratified by the

consciousness of it. He would hang out no signals, he would take notice

of none. He knew that a yearning glance fell upon him, now and then,

through a film of tears, but he refused recognition of it. He pictured

himself lying sick unto death and his aunt bending over him beseeching

one little forgiving word, but he would turn his face to the wall, and

die with that word unsaid. Ah, how would she feel then? And he pictured

himself brought home from the river, dead, with his curls all wet, and

his sore heart at rest. How she would throw herself upon him, and how

her tears would fall like rain, and her lips pray God to give her back

her boy and she would never, never abuse him any more! But he would lie

there cold and white and make no sign--a poor little sufferer, whose

griefs were at an end. He so worked upon his feelings with the pathos

of these dreams, that he had to keep swallowing, he was so like to

choke; and his eyes swam in a blur of water, which overflowed when he

winked, and ran down and trickled from the end of his nose. And such a

luxury to him was this petting of his sorrows, that he could not bear

to have any worldly cheeriness or any grating delight intrude upon it;

it was too sacred for such contact; and so, presently, when his cousin

Mary danced in, all alive with the joy of seeing home again after an

age-long visit of one week to the country, he got up and moved in

clouds and darkness out at one door as she brought song and sunshine in

at the other.

 

He wandered far from the accustomed haunts of boys, and sought

desolate places that were in harmony with his spirit. A log raft in the

river invited him, and he seated himself on its outer edge and

contemplated the dreary vastness of the stream, wishing, the while,

that he could only be drowned, all at once and unconsciously, without

undergoing the uncomfortable routine devised by nature. Then he thought

of his flower. He got it out, rumpled and wilted, and it mightily

increased his dismal felicity. He wondered if she would pity him if she

knew? Would she cry, and wish that she had a right to put her arms

around his neck and comfort him? Or would she turn coldly away like all

the hollow world? This picture brought such an agony of pleasurable

suffering that he worked it over and over again in his mind and set it

up in new and varied lights, till he wore it threadbare. At last he

rose up sighing and departed in the darkness.

 

About half-past nine or ten o'clock he came along the deserted street

to where the Adored Unknown lived; he paused a moment; no sound fell

upon his listening ear; a candle was casting a dull glow upon the

curtain of a second-story window. Was the sacred presence there? He

climbed the fence, threaded his stealthy way through the plants, till

he stood under that window; he looked up at it long, and with emotion;

then he laid him down on the ground under it, disposing himself upon

his back, with his hands clasped upon his breast and holding his poor

wilted flower. And thus he would die--out in the cold world, with no

shelter over his homeless head, no friendly hand to wipe the

death-damps from his brow, no loving face to bend pityingly over him

when the great agony came. And thus SHE would see him when she looked

out upon the glad morning, and oh! would she drop one little tear upon

his poor, lifeless form, would she heave one little sigh to see a bright

young life so rudely blighted, so untimely cut down?

 

The window went up, a maid-servant's discordant voice profaned the

holy calm, and a deluge of water drenched the prone martyr's remains!

 

The strangling hero sprang up with a relieving snort. There was a whiz

as of a missile in the air, mingled with the murmur of a curse, a sound

as of shivering glass followed, and a small, vague form went over the

fence and shot away in the gloom.

 

Not long after, as Tom, all undressed for bed, was surveying his

drenched garments by the light of a tallow dip, Sid woke up; but if he

had any dim idea of making any "references to allusions," he thought

better of it and held his peace, for there was danger in Tom's eye.

 

Tom turned in without the added vexation of prayers, and Sid made

mental note of the omission.

 

 

 

CHAPTER IV

 

THE sun rose upon a tranquil world, and beamed down upon the peaceful

village like a benediction. Breakfast over, Aunt Polly had family

worship: it began with a prayer built from the ground up of solid

courses of Scriptural quotations, welded together with a thin mortar of

originality; and from the summit of this she delivered a grim chapter

of the Mosaic Law, as from Sinai.

 

Then Tom girded up his loins, so to speak, and went to work to "get

his verses." Sid had learned his lesson days before. Tom bent all his

energies to the memorizing of five verses, and he chose part of the

Sermon on the Mount, because he could find no verses that were shorter.

At the end of half an hour Tom had a vague general idea of his lesson,

but no more, for his mind was traversing the whole field of human

thought, and his hands were busy with distracting recreations. Mary

took his book to hear him recite, and he tried to find his way through

the fog:

 

"Blessed are the--a--a--"

 

"Poor"--

 

"Yes--poor; blessed are the poor--a--a--"

 

"In spirit--"

 

"In spirit; blessed are the poor in spirit, for they--they--"

 

"THEIRS--"

 

"For THEIRS. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom

of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they--they--"

 

"Sh--"

 

"For they--a--"

 

"S, H, A--"

 

"For they S, H--Oh, I don't know what it is!"

 

"SHALL!"

 

"Oh, SHALL! for they shall--for they shall--a--a--shall mourn--a--a--

blessed are they that shall--they that--a--they that shall mourn, for

they shall--a--shall WHAT? Why don't you tell me, Mary?--what do you

want to be so mean for?"

 

"Oh, Tom, you poor thick-headed thing, I'm not teasing you. I wouldn't

do that. You must go and learn it again. Don't you be discouraged, Tom,

you'll manage it--and if you do, I'll give you something ever so nice.

There, now, that's a good boy."

 

"All right! What is it, Mary, tell me what it is."

 

"Never you mind, Tom. You know if I say it's nice, it is nice."

 

"You bet you that's so, Mary. All right, I'll tackle it again."

 

And he did "tackle it again"--and under the double pressure of

curiosity and prospective gain he did it with such spirit that he

accomplished a shining success. Mary gave him a brand-new "Barlow"

knife worth twelve and a half cents; and the convulsion of delight that

swept his system shook him to his foundations. True, the knife would

not cut anything, but it was a "sure-enough" Barlow, and there was

inconceivable grandeur in that--though where the Western boys ever got

the idea that such a weapon could possibly be counterfeited to its

injury is an imposing mystery and will always remain so, perhaps. Tom

contrived to scarify the cupboard with it, and was arranging to begin

on the bureau, when he was called off to dress for Sunday-school.

 

Mary gave him a tin basin of water and a piece of soap, and he went

outside the door and set the basin on a little bench there; then he

dipped the soap in the water and laid it down; turned up his sleeves;

poured out the water on the ground, gently, and then entered the

kitchen and began to wipe his face diligently on the towel behind the

door. But Mary removed the towel and said:

 

"Now ain't you ashamed, Tom. You mustn't be so bad. Water won't hurt

you."

 

Tom was a trifle disconcerted. The basin was refilled, and this time

he stood over it a little while, gathering resolution; took in a big

breath and began. When he entered the kitchen presently, with both eyes

shut and groping for the towel with his hands, an honorable testimony

of suds and water was dripping from his face. But when he emerged from

the towel, he was not yet satisfactory, for the clean territory stopped

short at his chin and his jaws, like a mask; below and beyond this line

there was a dark expanse of unirrigated soil that spread downward in

front and backward around his neck. Mary took him in hand, and when she

was done with him he was a man and a brother, without distinction of

color, and his saturated hair was neatly brushed, and its short curls

wrought into a dainty and symmetrical general effect. [He privately

smoothed out the curls, with labor and difficulty, and plastered his

hair close down to his head; for he held curls to be effeminate, and

his own filled his life with bitterness.] Then Mary got out a suit of

his clothing that had been used only on Sundays during two years--they

were simply called his "other clothes"--and so by that we know the

size of his wardrobe. The girl "put him to rights" after he had dressed

himself; she buttoned his neat roundabout up to his chin, turned his

vast shirt collar down over his shoulders, brushed him off and crowned

him with his speckled straw hat. He now looked exceedingly improved and

uncomfortable. He was fully as uncomfortable as he looked; for there

was a restraint about whole clothes and cleanliness that galled him. He

hoped that Mary would forget his shoes, but the hope was blighted; she

coated them thoroughly with tallow, as was the custom, and brought them

out. He lost his temper and said he was always being made to do

everything he didn't want to do. But Mary said, persuasively:

 

"Please, Tom--that's a good boy."

 

So he got into the shoes snarling. Mary was soon ready, and the three

children set out for Sunday-school--a place that Tom hated with his

whole heart; but Sid and Mary were fond of it.

 

Sabbath-school hours were from nine to half-past ten; and then church

service. Two of the children always remained for the sermon

voluntarily, and the other always remained too--for stronger reasons.

The church's high-backed, uncushioned pews would seat about three

hundred persons; the edifice was but a small, plain affair, with a sort

of pine board tree-box on top of it for a steeple. At the door Tom

dropped back a step and accosted a Sunday-dressed comrade:

 

"Say, Billy, got a yaller ticket?"

 

"Yes."

 

"What'll you take for her?"

 

"What'll you give?"

 

"Piece of lickrish and a fish-hook."

 

"Less see 'em."

 

Tom exhibited. They were satisfactory, and the property changed hands.

Then Tom traded a couple of white alleys for three red tickets, and

some small trifle or other for a couple of blue ones. He waylaid other

boys as they came, and went on buying tickets of various colors ten or

fifteen minutes longer. He entered the church, now, with a swarm of

clean and noisy boys and girls, proceeded to his seat and started a

quarrel with the first boy that came handy. The teacher, a grave,

elderly man, interfered; then turned his back a moment and Tom pulled a

boy's hair in the next bench, and was absorbed in his book when the boy

turned around; stuck a pin in another boy, presently, in order to hear

him say "Ouch!" and got a new reprimand from his teacher. Tom's whole

class were of a pattern--restless, noisy, and troublesome. When they

came to recite their lessons, not one of them knew his verses

perfectly, but had to be prompted all along. However, they worried

through, and each got his reward--in small blue tickets, each with a

passage of Scripture on it; each blue ticket was pay for two verses of

the recitation. Ten blue tickets equalled a red one, and could be

exchanged for it; ten red tickets equalled a yellow one; for ten yellow

tickets the superintendent gave a very plainly bound Bible (worth forty

cents in those easy times) to the pupil. How many of my readers would

have the industry and application to memorize two thousand verses, even

for a Dore Bible? And yet Mary had acquired two Bibles in this way--it

was the patient work of two years--and a boy of German parentage had

won four or five. He once recited three thousand verses without

stopping; but the strain upon his mental faculties was too great, and

he was little better than an idiot from that day forth--a grievous

misfortune for the school, for on great occasions, before company, the

superintendent (as Tom expressed it) had always made this boy come out

and "spread himself." Only the older pupils managed to keep their

tickets and stick to their tedious work long enough to get a Bible, and

so the delivery of one of these prizes was a rare and noteworthy

circumstance; the successful pupil was so great and conspicuous for

that day that on the spot every scholar's heart was fired with a fresh

ambition that often lasted a couple of weeks. It is possible that Tom's

mental stomach had never really hungered for one of those prizes, but

unquestionably his entire being had for many a day longed for the glory

and the eclat that came with it.

 

In due course the superintendent stood up in front of the pulpit, with

a closed hymn-book in his hand and his forefinger inserted between its

leaves, and commanded attention. When a Sunday-school superintendent

makes his customary little speech, a hymn-book in the hand is as

necessary as is the inevitable sheet of music in the hand of a singer

who stands forward on the platform and sings a solo at a concert

--though why, is a mystery: for neither the hymn-book nor the sheet of

music is ever referred to by the sufferer. This superintendent was a

slim creature of thirty-five, with a sandy goatee and short sandy hair;

he wore a stiff standing-collar whose upper edge almost reached his

ears and whose sharp points curved forward abreast the corners of his

mouth--a fence that compelled a straight lookout ahead, and a turning

of the whole body when a side view was required; his chin was propped

on a spreading cravat which was as broad and as long as a bank-note,

and had fringed ends; his boot toes were turned sharply up, in the

fashion of the day, like sleigh-runners--an effect patiently and

laboriously produced by the young men by sitting with their toes

pressed against a wall for hours together. Mr. Walters was very earnest

of mien, and very sincere and honest at heart; and he held sacred

things and places in such reverence, and so separated them from worldly

matters, that unconsciously to himself his Sunday-school voice had

acquired a peculiar intonation which was wholly absent on week-days. He

began after this fashion:

 

"Now, children, I want you all to sit up just as straight and pretty

as you can and give me all your attention for a minute or two. There

--that is it. That is the way good little boys and girls should do. I see

one little girl who is looking out of the window--I am afraid she

thinks I am out there somewhere--perhaps up in one of the trees making

a speech to the little birds. [Applausive titter.] I want to tell you

how good it makes me feel to see so many bright, clean little faces

assembled in a place like this, learning to do right and be good." And

so forth and so on. It is not necessary to set down the rest of the

oration. It was of a pattern which does not vary, and so it is familiar

to us all.

 

The latter third of the speech was marred by the resumption of fights

and other recreations among certain of the bad boys, and by fidgetings

and whisperings that extended far and wide, washing even to the bases

of isolated and incorruptible rocks like Sid and Mary. But now every

sound ceased suddenly, with the subsidence of Mr. Walters' voice, and

the conclusion of the speech was received with a burst of silent

gratitude.

 

A good part of the whispering had been occasioned by an event which

was more or less rare--the entrance of visitors: lawyer Thatcher,

accompanied by a very feeble and aged man; a fine, portly, middle-aged

gentleman with iron-gray hair; and a dignified lady who was doubtless

the latter's wife. The lady was leading a child. Tom had been restless

and full of chafings and repinings; conscience-smitten, too--he could

not meet Amy Lawrence's eye, he could not brook her loving gaze. But

when he saw this small new-comer his soul was all ablaze with bliss in

a moment. The next moment he was "showing off" with all his might

--cuffing boys, pulling hair, making faces--in a word, using every art

that seemed likely to fascinate a girl and win her applause. His

exaltation had but one alloy--the memory of his humiliation in this

angel's garden--and that record in sand was fast washing out, under

the waves of happiness that were sweeping over it now.

 

The visitors were given the highest seat of honor, and as soon as Mr.

Walters' speech was finished, he introduced them to the school. The

middle-aged man turned out to be a prodigious personage--no less a one

than the county judge--altogether the most august creation these

children had ever looked upon--and they wondered what kind of material

he was made of--and they half wanted to hear him roar, and were half

afraid he might, too. He was from Constantinople, twelve miles away--so

he had travelled, and seen the world--these very eyes had looked upon

the county court-house--which was said to have a tin roof. The awe

which these reflections inspired was attested by the impressive silence

and the ranks of staring eyes. This was the great Judge Thatcher,

brother of their own lawyer. Jeff Thatcher immediately went forward, to

be familiar with the great man and be envied by the school. It would

have been music to his soul to hear the whisperings:

 

"Look at him, Jim! He's a going up there. Say--look! he's a going to

shake hands with him--he IS shaking hands with him! By jings, don't you

wish you was Jeff?"

 

Mr. Walters fell to "showing off," with all sorts of official

bustlings and activities, giving orders, delivering judgments,

discharging directions here, there, everywhere that he could find a

target. The librarian "showed off"--running hither and thither with his

arms full of books and making a deal of the splutter and fuss that

insect authority delights in. The young lady teachers "showed off"

--bending sweetly over pupils that were lately being boxed, lifting

pretty warning fingers at bad little boys and patting good ones

lovingly. The young gentlemen teachers "showed off" with small

scoldings and other little displays of authority and fine attention to

discipline--and most of the teachers, of both sexes, found business up

at the library, by the pulpit; and it was business that frequently had

to be done over again two or three times (with much seeming vexation).

The little girls "showed off" in various ways, and the little boys

"showed off" with such diligence that the air was thick with paper wads

and the murmur of scufflings. And above it all the great man sat and

beamed a majestic judicial smile upon all the house, and warmed himself

in the sun of his own grandeur--for he was "showing off," too.

 

There was only one thing wanting to make Mr. Walters' ecstasy

complete, and that was a chance to deliver a Bible-prize and exhibit a

prodigy. Several pupils had a few yellow tickets, but none had enough

--he had been around among the star pupils inquiring. He would have given

worlds, now, to have that German lad back again with a sound mind.

 

And now at this moment, when hope was dead, Tom Sawyer came forward

with nine yellow tickets, nine red tickets, and ten blue ones, and

demanded a Bible. This was a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. Walters

was not expecting an application from this source for the next ten

years. But there was no getting around it--here were the certified

checks, and they were good for their face. Tom was therefore elevated

to a place with the Judge and the other elect, and the great news was

announced from headquarters. It was the most stunning surprise of the

decade, and so profound was the sensation that it lifted the new hero

up to the judicial one's altitude, and the school had two marvels to

gaze upon in place of one. The boys were all eaten up with envy--but

those that suffered the bitterest pangs were those who perceived too

late that they themselves had contributed to this hated splendor by

trading tickets to Tom for the wealth he had amassed in selling

whitewashing privileges. These despised themselves, as being the dupes

of a wily fraud, a guileful snake in the grass.

 

The prize was delivered to Tom with as much effusion as the

superintendent could pump up under the circumstances; but it lacked

somewhat of the true gush, for the poor fellow's instinct taught him

that there was a mystery here that could not well bear the light,

perhaps; it was simply preposterous that this boy had warehoused two

thousand sheaves of Scriptural wisdom on his premises--a dozen would

strain his capacity, without a doubt.

 

Amy Lawrence was proud and glad, and she tried to make Tom see it in

her face--but he wouldn't look. She wondered; then she was just a grain

troubled; next a dim suspicion came and went--came again; she watched;

a furtive glance told her worlds--and then her heart broke, and she was

jealous, and angry, and the tears came and she hated everybody. Tom

most of all (she thought).

 

Tom was introduced to the Judge; but his tongue was tied, his breath

would hardly come, his heart quaked--partly because of the awful

greatness of the man, but mainly because he was her parent. He would

have liked to fall down and worship him, if it were in the dark. The

Judge put his hand on Tom's head and called him a fine little man, and

asked him what his name was. The boy stammered, gasped, and got it out:

 

"Tom."

 

"Oh, no, not Tom--it is--"

 

"Thomas."

 

"Ah, that's it. I thought there was more to it, maybe. That's very

well. But you've another one I daresay, and you'll tell it to me, won't

you?"

 

"Tell the gentleman your other name, Thomas," said Walters, "and say

sir. You mustn't forget your manners."

 

"Thomas Sawyer--sir."

 

"That's it! That's a good boy. Fine boy. Fine, manly little fellow.

Two thousand verses is a great many--very, very great many. And you

never can be sorry for the trouble you took to learn them; for

knowledge is worth more than anything there is in the world; it's what

makes great men and good men; you'll be a great man and a good man

yourself, some day, Thomas, and then you'll look back and say, It's all

owing to the precious Sunday-school privileges of my boyhood--it's all

owing to my dear teachers that taught me to learn--it's all owing to

the good superintendent, who encouraged me, and watched over me, and

gave me a beautiful Bible--a splendid elegant Bible--to keep and have

it all for my own, always--it's all owing to right bringing up! That is

what you will say, Thomas--and you wouldn't take any money for those

two thousand verses--no indeed you wouldn't. And now you wouldn't mind

telling me and this lady some of the things you've learned--no, I know

you wouldn't--for we are proud of little boys that learn. Now, no

doubt you know the names of all the twelve disciples. Won't you tell us

the names of the first two that were appointed?"

 

Tom was tugging at a button-hole and looking sheepish. He blushed,

now, and his eyes fell. Mr. Walters' heart sank within him. He said to

himself, it is not possible that the boy can answer the simplest

question--why DID the Judge ask him? Yet he felt obliged to speak up

and say:

 

"Answer the gentleman, Thomas--don't be afraid."

 

Tom still hung fire.

 

"Now I know you'll tell me," said the lady. "The names of the first

two disciples were--"

 

"DAVID AND GOLIAH!"

 

Let us draw the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene.

 

 

 

CHAPTER V

 

ABOUT half-past ten the cracked bell of the small church began to

ring, and presently the people began to gather for the morning sermon.

The Sunday-school children distributed themselves about the house and

occupied pews with their parents, so as to be under supervision. Aunt

Polly came, and Tom and Sid and Mary sat with her--Tom being placed

next the aisle, in order that he might be as far away from the open

window and the seductive outside summer scenes as possible. The crowd

filed up the aisles: the aged and needy postmaster, who had seen better

days; the mayor and his wife--for they had a mayor there, among other

unnecessaries; the justice of the peace; the widow Douglass, fair,

smart, and forty, a generous, good-hearted soul and well-to-do, her

hill mansion the only palace in the town, and the most hospitable and

much the most lavish in the matter of festivities that St. Petersburg

could boast; the bent and venerable Major and Mrs. Ward; lawyer

Riverson, the new notable from a distance; next the belle of the

village, followed by a troop of lawn-clad and ribbon-decked young

heart-breakers; then all the young clerks in town in a body--for they

had stood in the vestibule sucking their cane-heads, a circling wall of

oiled and simpering admirers, till the last girl had run their gantlet;

and last of all came the Model Boy, Willie Mufferson, taking as heedful

care of his mother as if she were cut glass. He always brought his

mother to church, and was the pride of all the matrons. The boys all

hated him, he was so good. And besides, he had been "thrown up to them"

so much. His white handkerchief was hanging out of his pocket behind, as

usual on Sundays--accidentally. Tom had no handkerchief, and he looked

upon boys who had as snobs.

 

The congregation being fully assembled, now, the bell rang once more,

to warn laggards and stragglers, and then a solemn hush fell upon the

church which was only broken by the tittering and whispering of the

choir in the gallery. The choir always tittered and whispered all

through service. There was once a church choir that was not ill-bred,

but I have forgotten where it was, now. It was a great many years ago,

and I can scarcely remember anything about it, but I think it was in

some foreign country.

 

The minister gave out the hymn, and read it through with a relish, in

a peculiar style which was much admired in that part of the country.

His voice began on a medium key and climbed steadily up till it reached

a certain point, where it bore with strong emphasis upon the topmost

word and then plunged down as if from a spring-board:

 

  Shall I be car-ri-ed toe the skies, on flow'ry BEDS of ease,

 

  Whilst others fight to win the prize, and sail thro' BLOODY seas?

 

He was regarded as a wonderful reader. At church "sociables" he was

always called upon to read poetry; and when he was through, the ladies

would lift up their hands and let them fall helplessly in their laps,

and "wall" their eyes, and shake their heads, as much as to say, "Words

cannot express it; it is too beautiful, TOO beautiful for this mortal

earth."

 

After the hymn had been sung, the Rev. Mr. Sprague turned himself into

a bulletin-board, and read off "notices" of meetings and societies and

things till it seemed that the list would stretch out to the crack of

doom--a queer custom which is still kept up in America, even in cities,

away here in this age of abundant newspapers. Often, the less there is

to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.

 

And now the minister prayed. A good, generous prayer it was, and went

into details: it pleaded for the church, and the little children of the

church; for the other churches of the village; for the village itself;

for the county; for the State; for the State officers; for the United

States; for the churches of the United States; for Congress; for the

President; for the officers of the Government; for poor sailors, tossed

by stormy seas; for the oppressed millions groaning under the heel of

European monarchies and Oriental despotisms; for such as have the light

and the good tidings, and yet have not eyes to see nor ears to hear

withal; for the heathen in the far islands of the sea; and closed with

a supplication that the words he was about to speak might find grace

and favor, and be as seed sown in fertile ground, yielding in time a

grateful harvest of good. Amen.

 

There was a rustling of dresses, and the standing congregation sat

down. The boy whose history this book relates did not enjoy the prayer,

he only endured it--if he even did that much. He was restive all

through it; he kept tally of the details of the prayer, unconsciously

--for he was not listening, but he knew the ground of old, and the

clergyman's regular route over it--and when a little trifle of new

matter was interlarded, his ear detected it and his whole nature

resented it; he considered additions unfair, and scoundrelly. In the

midst of the prayer a fly had lit on the back of the pew in front of

him and tortured his spirit by calmly rubbing its hands together,

embracing its head with its arms, and polishing it so vigorously that

it seemed to almost part company with the body, and the slender thread

of a neck was exposed to view; scraping its wings with its hind legs

and smoothing them to its body as if they had been coat-tails; going

through its whole toilet as tranquilly as if it knew it was perfectly

safe. As indeed it was; for as sorely as Tom's hands itched to grab for

it they did not dare--he believed his soul would be instantly destroyed

if he did such a thing while the prayer was going on. But with the

closing sentence his hand began to curve and steal forward; and the

instant the "Amen" was out the fly was a prisoner of war. His aunt

detected the act and made him let it go.

 

The minister gave out his text and droned along monotonously through

an argument that was so prosy that many a head by and by began to nod

--and yet it was an argument that dealt in limitless fire and brimstone

and thinned the predestined elect down to a company so small as to be

hardly worth the saving. Tom counted the pages of the sermon; after

church he always knew how many pages there had been, but he seldom knew

anything else about the discourse. However, this time he was really

interested for a little while. The minister made a grand and moving

picture of the assembling together of the world's hosts at the

millennium when the lion and the lamb should lie down together and a

little child should lead them. But the pathos, the lesson, the moral of

the great spectacle were lost upon the boy; he only thought of the

conspicuousness of the principal character before the on-looking

nations; his face lit with the thought, and he said to himself that he

wished he could be that child, if it was a tame lion.

 

Now he lapsed into suffering again, as the dry argument was resumed.

Presently he bethought him of a treasure he had and got it out. It was

a large black beetle with formidable jaws--a "pinchbug," he called it.

It was in a percussion-cap box. The first thing the beetle did was to

take him by the finger. A natural fillip followed, the beetle went

floundering into the aisle and lit on its back, and the hurt finger

went into the boy's mouth. The beetle lay there working its helpless

legs, unable to turn over. Tom eyed it, and longed for it; but it was

safe out of his reach. Other people uninterested in the sermon found

relief in the beetle, and they eyed it too. Presently a vagrant poodle

dog came idling along, sad at heart, lazy with the summer softness and

the quiet, weary of captivity, sighing for change. He spied the beetle;

the drooping tail lifted and wagged. He surveyed the prize; walked

around it; smelt at it from a safe distance; walked around it again;

grew bolder, and took a closer smell; then lifted his lip and made a

gingerly snatch at it, just missing it; made another, and another;

began to enjoy the diversion; subsided to his stomach with the beetle

between his paws, and continued his experiments; grew weary at last,

and then indifferent and absent-minded. His head nodded, and little by

little his chin descended and touched the enemy, who seized it. There

was a sharp yelp, a flirt of the poodle's head, and the beetle fell a

couple of yards away, and lit on its back once more. The neighboring

spectators shook with a gentle inward joy, several faces went behind

fans and handkerchiefs, and Tom was entirely happy. The dog looked

foolish, and probably felt so; but there was resentment in his heart,

too, and a craving for revenge. So he went to the beetle and began a

wary attack on it again; jumping at it from every point of a circle,

lighting with his fore-paws within an inch of the creature, making even

closer snatches at it with his teeth, and jerking his head till his

ears flapped again. But he grew tired once more, after a while; tried

to amuse himself with a fly but found no relief; followed an ant

around, with his nose close to the floor, and quickly wearied of that;

yawned, sighed, forgot the beetle entirely, and sat down on it. Then

there was a wild yelp of agony and the poodle went sailing up the

aisle; the yelps continued, and so did the dog; he crossed the house in

front of the altar; he flew down the other aisle; he crossed before the

doors; he clamored up the home-stretch; his anguish grew with his

progress, till presently he was but a woolly comet moving in its orbit

with the gleam and the speed of light. At last the frantic sufferer

sheered from its course, and sprang into its master's lap; he flung it

out of the window, and the voice of distress quickly thinned away and

died in the distance.

 

By this time the whole church was red-faced and suffocating with

suppressed laughter, and the sermon had come to a dead standstill. The

discourse was resumed presently, but it went lame and halting, all

possibility of impressiveness being at an end; for even the gravest

sentiments were constantly being received with a smothered burst of

unholy mirth, under cover of some remote pew-back, as if the poor

parson had said a rarely facetious thing. It was a genuine relief to

the whole congregation when the ordeal was over and the benediction

pronounced.

 

Tom Sawyer went home quite cheerful, thinking to himself that there

was some satisfaction about divine service when there was a bit of

variety in it. He had but one marring thought; he was willing that the

dog should play with his pinchbug, but he did not think it was upright

in him to carry it off.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VI

 

MONDAY morning found Tom Sawyer miserable. Monday morning always found

him so--because it began another week's slow suffering in school. He

generally began that day with wishing he had had no intervening

holiday, it made the going into captivity and fetters again so much

more odious.

 

Tom lay thinking. Presently it occurred to him that he wished he was

sick; then he could stay home from school. Here was a vague

possibility. He canvassed his system. No ailment was found, and he

investigated again. This time he thought he could detect colicky

symptoms, and he began to encourage them with considerable hope. But

they soon grew feeble, and presently died wholly away. He reflected

further. Suddenly he discovered something. One of his upper front teeth

was loose. This was lucky; he was about to begin to groan, as a

"starter," as he called it, when it occurred to him that if he came

into court with that argument, his aunt would pull it out, and that

would hurt. So he thought he would hold the tooth in reserve for the

present, and seek further. Nothing offered for some little time, and

then he remembered hearing the doctor tell about a certain thing that

laid up a patient for two or three weeks and threatened to make him

lose a finger. So the boy eagerly drew his sore toe from under the

sheet and held it up for inspection. But now he did not know the

necessary symptoms. However, it seemed well worth while to chance it,

so he fell to groaning with considerable spirit.

 

But Sid slept on unconscious.

 

Tom groaned louder, and fancied that he began to feel pain in the toe.

 

No result from Sid.

 

Tom was panting with his exertions by this time. He took a rest and

then swelled himself up and fetched a succession of admirable groans.

 

Sid snored on.

 

Tom was aggravated. He said, "Sid, Sid!" and shook him. This course

worked well, and Tom began to groan again. Sid yawned, stretched, then

brought himself up on his elbow with a snort, and began to stare at

Tom. Tom went on groaning. Sid said:

 

"Tom! Say, Tom!" [No response.] "Here, Tom! TOM! What is the matter,

Tom?" And he shook him and looked in his face anxiously.

 

Tom moaned out:

 

"Oh, don't, Sid. Don't joggle me."

 

"Why, what's the matter, Tom? I must call auntie."

 

"No--never mind. It'll be over by and by, maybe. Don't call anybody."

 

"But I must! DON'T groan so, Tom, it's awful. How long you been this

way?"

 

"Hours. Ouch! Oh, don't stir so, Sid, you'll kill me."

 

"Tom, why didn't you wake me sooner? Oh, Tom, DON'T! It makes my

flesh crawl to hear you. Tom, what is the matter?"

 

"I forgive you everything, Sid. [Groan.] Everything you've ever done

to me. When I'm gone--"

 

"Oh, Tom, you ain't dying, are you? Don't, Tom--oh, don't. Maybe--"

 

"I forgive everybody, Sid. [Groan.] Tell 'em so, Sid. And Sid, you

give my window-sash and my cat with one eye to that new girl that's

come to town, and tell her--"

 

But Sid had snatched his clothes and gone. Tom was suffering in

reality, now, so handsomely was his imagination working, and so his

groans had gathered quite a genuine tone.

 

Sid flew down-stairs and said:

 

"Oh, Aunt Polly, come! Tom's dying!"

 

"Dying!"

 

"Yes'm. Don't wait--come quick!"

 

"Rubbage! I don't believe it!"

 

But she fled up-stairs, nevertheless, with Sid and Mary at her heels.

And her face grew white, too, and her lip trembled. When she reached

the bedside she gasped out:

 

"You, Tom! Tom, what's the matter with you?"

 

"Oh, auntie, I'm--"

 

"What's the matter with you--what is the matter with you, child?"

 

"Oh, auntie, my sore toe's mortified!"

 

The old lady sank down into a chair and laughed a little, then cried a

little, then did both together. This restored her and she said:

 

"Tom, what a turn you did give me. Now you shut up that nonsense and

climb out of this."

 

The groans ceased and the pain vanished from the toe. The boy felt a

little foolish, and he said:

 

"Aunt Polly, it SEEMED mortified, and it hurt so I never minded my

tooth at all."

 

"Your tooth, indeed! What's the matter with your tooth?"

 

"One of them's loose, and it aches perfectly awful."

 

"There, there, now, don't begin that groaning again. Open your mouth.

Well--your tooth IS loose, but you're not going to die about that.

Mary, get me a silk thread, and a chunk of fire out of the kitchen."

 

Tom said:

 

"Oh, please, auntie, don't pull it out. It don't hurt any more. I wish

I may never stir if it does. Please don't, auntie. I don't want to stay

home from school."

 

"Oh, you don't, don't you? So all this row was because you thought

you'd get to stay home from school and go a-fishing? Tom, Tom, I love

you so, and you seem to try every way you can to break my old heart

with your outrageousness." By this time the dental instruments were

ready. The old lady made one end of the silk thread fast to Tom's tooth

with a loop and tied the other to the bedpost. Then she seized the

chunk of fire and suddenly thrust it almost into the boy's face. The

tooth hung dangling by the bedpost, now.

 

But all trials bring their compensations. As Tom wended to school

after breakfast, he was the envy of every boy he met because the gap in

his upper row of teeth enabled him to expectorate in a new and

admirable way. He gathered quite a following of lads interested in the

exhibition; and one that had cut his finger and had been a centre of

fascination and homage up to this time, now found himself suddenly

without an adherent, and shorn of his glory. His heart was heavy, and

he said with a disdain which he did not feel that it wasn't anything to

spit like Tom Sawyer; but another boy said, "Sour grapes!" and he

wandered away a dismantled hero.

 

Shortly Tom came upon the juvenile pariah of the village, Huckleberry

Finn, son of the town drunkard. Huckleberry was cordially hated and

dreaded by all the mothers of the town, because he was idle and lawless

and vulgar and bad--and because all their children admired him so, and

delighted in his forbidden society, and wished they dared to be like

him. Tom was like the rest of the respectable boys, in that he envied

Huckleberry his gaudy outcast condition, and was under strict orders

not to play with him. So he played with him every time he got a chance.

Huckleberry was always dressed in the cast-off clothes of full-grown

men, and they were in perennial bloom and fluttering with rags. His hat

was a vast ruin with a wide crescent lopped out of its brim; his coat,

when he wore one, hung nearly to his heels and had the rearward buttons

far down the back; but one suspender supported his trousers; the seat

of the trousers bagged low and contained nothing, the fringed legs

dragged in the dirt when not rolled up.

 

Huckleberry came and went, at his own free will. He slept on doorsteps

in fine weather and in empty hogsheads in wet; he did not have to go to

school or to church, or call any being master or obey anybody; he could

go fishing or swimming when and where he chose, and stay as long as it

suited him; nobody forbade him to fight; he could sit up as late as he

pleased; he was always the first boy that went barefoot in the spring

and the last to resume leather in the fall; he never had to wash, nor

put on clean clothes; he could swear wonderfully. In a word, everything

that goes to make life precious that boy had. So thought every

harassed, hampered, respectable boy in St. Petersburg.

 

Tom hailed the romantic outcast:

 

"Hello, Huckleberry!"

 

"Hello yourself, and see how you like it."

 

"What's that you got?"

 

"Dead cat."

 

"Lemme see him, Huck. My, he's pretty stiff. Where'd you get him?"

 

"Bought him off'n a boy."

 

"What did you give?"

 

"I give a blue ticket and a bladder that I got at the slaughter-house."

 

"Where'd you get the blue ticket?"

 

"Bought it off'n Ben Rogers two weeks ago for a hoop-stick."

 

"Say--what is dead cats good for, Huck?"

 

"Good for? Cure warts with."

 

"No! Is that so? I know something that's better."

 

"I bet you don't. What is it?"

 

"Why, spunk-water."

 

"Spunk-water! I wouldn't give a dern for spunk-water."

 

"You wouldn't, wouldn't you? D'you ever try it?"

 

"No, I hain't. But Bob Tanner did."

 

"Who told you so!"

 

"Why, he told Jeff Thatcher, and Jeff told Johnny Baker, and Johnny

told Jim Hollis, and Jim told Ben Rogers, and Ben told a nigger, and

the nigger told me. There now!"

 

"Well, what of it? They'll all lie. Leastways all but the nigger. I

don't know HIM. But I never see a nigger that WOULDN'T lie. Shucks! Now

you tell me how Bob Tanner done it, Huck."

 

"Why, he took and dipped his hand in a rotten stump where the

rain-water was."

 

"In the daytime?"

 

"Certainly."

 

"With his face to the stump?"

 

"Yes. Least I reckon so."

 

"Did he say anything?"

 

"I don't reckon he did. I don't know."

 

"Aha! Talk about trying to cure warts with spunk-water such a blame

fool way as that! Why, that ain't a-going to do any good. You got to go

all by yourself, to the middle of the woods, where you know there's a

spunk-water stump, and just as it's midnight you back up against the

stump and jam your hand in and say:

 

  'Barley-corn, barley-corn, injun-meal shorts,

   Spunk-water, spunk-water, swaller these warts,'

 

and then walk away quick, eleven steps, with your eyes shut, and then

turn around three times and walk home without speaking to anybody.

Because if you speak the charm's busted."

 

"Well, that sounds like a good way; but that ain't the way Bob Tanner

done."

 

"No, sir, you can bet he didn't, becuz he's the wartiest boy in this

town; and he wouldn't have a wart on him if he'd knowed how to work

spunk-water. I've took off thousands of warts off of my hands that way,

Huck. I play with frogs so much that I've always got considerable many

warts. Sometimes I take 'em off with a bean."

 

"Yes, bean's good. I've done that."

 

"Have you? What's your way?"

 

"You take and split the bean, and cut the wart so as to get some

blood, and then you put the blood on one piece of the bean and take and

dig a hole and bury it 'bout midnight at the crossroads in the dark of

the moon, and then you burn up the rest of the bean. You see that piece

that's got the blood on it will keep drawing and drawing, trying to

fetch the other piece to it, and so that helps the blood to draw the

wart, and pretty soon off she comes."

 

"Yes, that's it, Huck--that's it; though when you're burying it if you

say 'Down bean; off wart; come no more to bother me!' it's better.

That's the way Joe Harper does, and he's been nearly to Coonville and

most everywheres. But say--how do you cure 'em with dead cats?"

 

"Why, you take your cat and go and get in the graveyard 'long about

midnight when somebody that was wicked has been buried; and when it's

midnight a devil will come, or maybe two or three, but you can't see

'em, you can only hear something like the wind, or maybe hear 'em talk;

and when they're taking that feller away, you heave your cat after 'em

and say, 'Devil follow corpse, cat follow devil, warts follow cat, I'm

done with ye!' That'll fetch ANY wart."

 

"Sounds right. D'you ever try it, Huck?"

 

"No, but old Mother Hopkins told me."

 

"Well, I reckon it's so, then. Becuz they say she's a witch."

 

"Say! Why, Tom, I KNOW she is. She witched pap. Pap says so his own

self. He come along one day, and he see she was a-witching him, so he

took up a rock, and if she hadn't dodged, he'd a got her. Well, that

very night he rolled off'n a shed wher' he was a layin drunk, and broke

his arm."

 

"Why, that's awful. How did he know she was a-witching him?"

 

"Lord, pap can tell, easy. Pap says when they keep looking at you

right stiddy, they're a-witching you. Specially if they mumble. Becuz

when they mumble they're saying the Lord's Prayer backards."

 

"Say, Hucky, when you going to try the cat?"

 

"To-night. I reckon they'll come after old Hoss Williams to-night."

 

"But they buried him Saturday. Didn't they get him Saturday night?"

 

"Why, how you talk! How could their charms work till midnight?--and

THEN it's Sunday. Devils don't slosh around much of a Sunday, I don't

reckon."

 

"I never thought of that. That's so. Lemme go with you?"

 

"Of course--if you ain't afeard."

 

"Afeard! 'Tain't likely. Will you meow?"

 

"Yes--and you meow back, if you get a chance. Last time, you kep' me

a-meowing around till old Hays went to throwing rocks at me and says

'Dern that cat!' and so I hove a brick through his window--but don't

you tell."

 

"I won't. I couldn't meow that night, becuz auntie was watching me,

but I'll meow this time. Say--what's that?"

 

"Nothing but a tick."

 

"Where'd you get him?"

 

"Out in the woods."

 

"What'll you take for him?"

 

"I don't know. I don't want to sell him."

 

"All right. It's a mighty small tick, anyway."

 

"Oh, anybody can run a tick down that don't belong to them. I'm

satisfied with it. It's a good enough tick for me."

 

"Sho, there's ticks a plenty. I could have a thousand of 'em if I

wanted to."

 

"Well, why don't you? Becuz you know mighty well you can't. This is a

pretty early tick, I reckon. It's the first one I've seen this year."

 

"Say, Huck--I'll give you my tooth for him."

 

"Less see it."

 

Tom got out a bit of paper and carefully unrolled it. Huckleberry

viewed it wistfully. The temptation was very strong. At last he said:

 

"Is it genuwyne?"

 

Tom lifted his lip and showed the vacancy.

 

"Well, all right," said Huckleberry, "it's a trade."

 

Tom enclosed the tick in the percussion-cap box that had lately been

the pinchbug's prison, and the boys separated, each feeling wealthier

than before.

 

When Tom reached the little isolated frame schoolhouse, he strode in

briskly, with the manner of one who had come with all honest speed.

He hung his hat on a peg and flung himself into his seat with

business-like alacrity. The master, throned on high in his great

splint-bottom arm-chair, was dozing, lulled by the drowsy hum of study.

The interruption roused him.

 

"Thomas Sawyer!"

 

Tom knew that when his name was pronounced in full, it meant trouble.

 

"Sir!"

 

"Come up here. Now, sir, why are you late again, as usual?"

 

Tom was about to take refuge in a lie, when he saw two long tails of

yellow hair hanging down a back that he recognized by the electric

sympathy of love; and by that form was THE ONLY VACANT PLACE on the

girls' side of the schoolhouse. He instantly said:

 

"I STOPPED TO TALK WITH HUCKLEBERRY FINN!"

 

The master's pulse stood still, and he stared helplessly. The buzz of

study ceased. The pupils wondered if this foolhardy boy had lost his

mind. The master said:

 

"You--you did what?"

 

"Stopped to talk with Huckleberry Finn."

 

There was no mistaking the words.

 

"Thomas Sawyer, this is the most astounding confession I have ever

listened to. No mere ferule will answer for this offence. Take off your

jacket."

 

The master's arm performed until it was tired and the stock of

switches notably diminished. Then the order followed:

 

"Now, sir, go and sit with the girls! And let this be a warning to you."

 

The titter that rippled around the room appeared to abash the boy, but

in reality that result was caused rather more by his worshipful awe of

his unknown idol and the dread pleasure that lay in his high good

fortune. He sat down upon the end of the pine bench and the girl

hitched herself away from him with a toss of her head. Nudges and winks

and whispers traversed the room, but Tom sat still, with his arms upon

the long, low desk before him, and seemed to study his book.

 

By and by attention ceased from him, and the accustomed school murmur

rose upon the dull air once more. Presently the boy began to steal

furtive glances at the girl. She observed it, "made a mouth" at him and

gave him the back of her head for the space of a minute. When she

cautiously faced around again, a peach lay before her. She thrust it

away. Tom gently put it back. She thrust it away again, but with less

animosity. Tom patiently returned it to its place. Then she let it

remain. Tom scrawled on his slate, "Please take it--I got more." The

girl glanced at the words, but made no sign. Now the boy began to draw

something on the slate, hiding his work with his left hand. For a time

the girl refused to notice; but her human curiosity presently began to

manifest itself by hardly perceptible signs. The boy worked on,

apparently unconscious. The girl made a sort of noncommittal attempt to

see, but the boy did not betray that he was aware of it. At last she

gave in and hesitatingly whispered:

 

"Let me see it."

 

Tom partly uncovered a dismal caricature of a house with two gable

ends to it and a corkscrew of smoke issuing from the chimney. Then the

girl's interest began to fasten itself upon the work and she forgot

everything else. When it was finished, she gazed a moment, then

whispered:

 

"It's nice--make a man."

 

The artist erected a man in the front yard, that resembled a derrick.

He could have stepped over the house; but the girl was not

hypercritical; she was satisfied with the monster, and whispered:

 

"It's a beautiful man--now make me coming along."

 

Tom drew an hour-glass with a full moon and straw limbs to it and

armed the spreading fingers with a portentous fan. The girl said:

 

"It's ever so nice--I wish I could draw."

 

"It's easy," whispered Tom, "I'll learn you."

 

"Oh, will you? When?"

 

"At noon. Do you go home to dinner?"

 

"I'll stay if you will."

 

"Good--that's a whack. What's your name?"

 

"Becky Thatcher. What's yours? Oh, I know. It's Thomas Sawyer."

 

"That's the name they lick me by. I'm Tom when I'm good. You call me

Tom, will you?"

 

"Yes."

 

Now Tom began to scrawl something on the slate, hiding the words from

the girl. But she was not backward this time. She begged to see. Tom

said:

 

"Oh, it ain't anything."

 

"Yes it is."

 

"No it ain't. You don't want to see."

 

"Yes I do, indeed I do. Please let me."

 

"You'll tell."

 

"No I won't--deed and deed and double deed won't."

 

"You won't tell anybody at all? Ever, as long as you live?"

 

"No, I won't ever tell ANYbody. Now let me."

 

"Oh, YOU don't want to see!"

 

"Now that you treat me so, I WILL see." And she put her small hand

upon his and a little scuffle ensued, Tom pretending to resist in

earnest but letting his hand slip by degrees till these words were

revealed: "I LOVE YOU."

 

"Oh, you bad thing!" And she hit his hand a smart rap, but reddened

and looked pleased, nevertheless.

 

Just at this juncture the boy felt a slow, fateful grip closing on his

ear, and a steady lifting impulse. In that wise he was borne across the

house and deposited in his own seat, under a peppering fire of giggles

from the whole school. Then the master stood over him during a few

awful moments, and finally moved away to his throne without saying a

word. But although Tom's ear tingled, his heart was jubilant.

 

As the school quieted down Tom made an honest effort to study, but the

turmoil within him was too great. In turn he took his place in the

reading class and made a botch of it; then in the geography class and

turned lakes into mountains, mountains into rivers, and rivers into

continents, till chaos was come again; then in the spelling class, and

got "turned down," by a succession of mere baby words, till he brought

up at the foot and yielded up the pewter medal which he had worn with

ostentation for months.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VII

 

THE harder Tom tried to fasten his mind on his book, the more his

ideas wandered. So at last, with a sigh and a yawn, he gave it up. It

seemed to him that the noon recess would never come. The air was

utterly dead. There was not a breath stirring. It was the sleepiest of

sleepy days. The drowsing murmur of the five and twenty studying

scholars soothed the soul like the spell that is in the murmur of bees.

Away off in the flaming sunshine, Cardiff Hill lifted its soft green

sides through a shimmering veil of heat, tinted with the purple of

distance; a few birds floated on lazy wing high in the air; no other

living thing was visible but some cows, and they were asleep. Tom's

heart ached to be free, or else to have something of interest to do to

pass the dreary time. His hand wandered into his pocket and his face

lit up with a glow of gratitude that was prayer, though he did not know

it. Then furtively the percussion-cap box came out. He released the

tick and put him on the long flat desk. The creature probably glowed

with a gratitude that amounted to prayer, too, at this moment, but it

was premature: for when he started thankfully to travel off, Tom turned

him aside with a pin and made him take a new direction.

 

Tom's bosom friend sat next him, suffering just as Tom had been, and

now he was deeply and gratefully interested in this entertainment in an

instant. This bosom friend was Joe Harper. The two boys were sworn

friends all the week, and embattled enemies on Saturdays. Joe took a

pin out of his lapel and began to assist in exercising the prisoner.

The sport grew in interest momently. Soon Tom said that they were

interfering with each other, and neither getting the fullest benefit of

the tick. So he put Joe's slate on the desk and drew a line down the

middle of it from top to bottom.

 

"Now," said he, "as long as he is on your side you can stir him up and

I'll let him alone; but if you let him get away and get on my side,

you're to leave him alone as long as I can keep him from crossing over."

 

"All right, go ahead; start him up."

 

The tick escaped from Tom, presently, and crossed the equator. Joe

harassed him awhile, and then he got away and crossed back again. This

change of base occurred often. While one boy was worrying the tick with

absorbing interest, the other would look on with interest as strong,

the two heads bowed together over the slate, and the two souls dead to

all things else. At last luck seemed to settle and abide with Joe. The

tick tried this, that, and the other course, and got as excited and as

anxious as the boys themselves, but time and again just as he would

have victory in his very grasp, so to speak, and Tom's fingers would be

twitching to begin, Joe's pin would deftly head him off, and keep

possession. At last Tom could stand it no longer. The temptation was

too strong. So he reached out and lent a hand with his pin. Joe was

angry in a moment. Said he:

 

"Tom, you let him alone."

 

"I only just want to stir him up a little, Joe."

 

"No, sir, it ain't fair; you just let him alone."

 

"Blame it, I ain't going to stir him much."

 

"Let him alone, I tell you."

 

"I won't!"

 

"You shall--he's on my side of the line."

 

"Look here, Joe Harper, whose is that tick?"

 

"I don't care whose tick he is--he's on my side of the line, and you

sha'n't touch him."

 

"Well, I'll just bet I will, though. He's my tick and I'll do what I

blame please with him, or die!"

 

A tremendous whack came down on Tom's shoulders, and its duplicate on

Joe's; and for the space of two minutes the dust continued to fly from

the two jackets and the whole school to enjoy it. The boys had been too

absorbed to notice the hush that had stolen upon the school awhile

before when the master came tiptoeing down the room and stood over

them. He had contemplated a good part of the performance before he

contributed his bit of variety to it.

 

When school broke up at noon, Tom flew to Becky Thatcher, and

whispered in her ear:

 

"Put on your bonnet and let on you're going home; and when you get to

the corner, give the rest of 'em the slip, and turn down through the

lane and come back. I'll go the other way and come it over 'em the same

way."

 

So the one went off with one group of scholars, and the other with

another. In a little while the two met at the bottom of the lane, and

when they reached the school they had it all to themselves. Then they

sat together, with a slate before them, and Tom gave Becky the pencil

and held her hand in his, guiding it, and so created another surprising

house. When the interest in art began to wane, the two fell to talking.

Tom was swimming in bliss. He said:

 

"Do you love rats?"

 

"No! I hate them!"

 

"Well, I do, too--LIVE ones. But I mean dead ones, to swing round your

head with a string."

 

"No, I don't care for rats much, anyway. What I like is chewing-gum."

 

"Oh, I should say so! I wish I had some now."

 

"Do you? I've got some. I'll let you chew it awhile, but you must give

it back to me."

 

That was agreeable, so they chewed it turn about, and dangled their

legs against the bench in excess of contentment.

 

"Was you ever at a circus?" said Tom.

 

"Yes, and my pa's going to take me again some time, if I'm good."

 

"I been to the circus three or four times--lots of times. Church ain't

shucks to a circus. There's things going on at a circus all the time.

I'm going to be a clown in a circus when I grow up."

 

"Oh, are you! That will be nice. They're so lovely, all spotted up."

 

"Yes, that's so. And they get slathers of money--most a dollar a day,

Ben Rogers says. Say, Becky, was you ever engaged?"

 

"What's that?"

 

"Why, engaged to be married."

 

"No."

 

"Would you like to?"

 

"I reckon so. I don't know. What is it like?"

 

"Like? Why it ain't like anything. You only just tell a boy you won't

ever have anybody but him, ever ever ever, and then you kiss and that's

all. Anybody can do it."

 

"Kiss? What do you kiss for?"

 

"Why, that, you know, is to--well, they always do that."

 

"Everybody?"

 

"Why, yes, everybody that's in love with each other. Do you remember

what I wrote on the slate?"

 

"Ye--yes."

 

"What was it?"

 

"I sha'n't tell you."

 

"Shall I tell YOU?"

 

"Ye--yes--but some other time."

 

"No, now."

 

"No, not now--to-morrow."

 

"Oh, no, NOW. Please, Becky--I'll whisper it, I'll whisper it ever so

easy."

 

Becky hesitating, Tom took silence for consent, and passed his arm

about her waist and whispered the tale ever so softly, with his mouth

close to her ear. And then he added:

 

"Now you whisper it to me--just the same."

 

She resisted, for a while, and then said:

 

"You turn your face away so you can't see, and then I will. But you

mustn't ever tell anybody--WILL you, Tom? Now you won't, WILL you?"

 

"No, indeed, indeed I won't. Now, Becky."

 

He turned his face away. She bent timidly around till her breath

stirred his curls and whispered, "I--love--you!"

 

Then she sprang away and ran around and around the desks and benches,

with Tom after her, and took refuge in a corner at last, with her

little white apron to her face. Tom clasped her about her neck and

pleaded:

 

"Now, Becky, it's all done--all over but the kiss. Don't you be afraid

of that--it ain't anything at all. Please, Becky." And he tugged at her

apron and the hands.

 

By and by she gave up, and let her hands drop; her face, all glowing

with the struggle, came up and submitted. Tom kissed the red lips and

said:

 

"Now it's all done, Becky. And always after this, you know, you ain't

ever to love anybody but me, and you ain't ever to marry anybody but

me, ever never and forever. Will you?"

 

"No, I'll never love anybody but you, Tom, and I'll never marry

anybody but you--and you ain't to ever marry anybody but me, either."

 

"Certainly. Of course. That's PART of it. And always coming to school

or when we're going home, you're to walk with me, when there ain't

anybody looking--and you choose me and I choose you at parties, because

that's the way you do when you're engaged."

 

"It's so nice. I never heard of it before."

 

"Oh, it's ever so gay! Why, me and Amy Lawrence--"

 

The big eyes told Tom his blunder and he stopped, confused.

 

"Oh, Tom! Then I ain't the first you've ever been engaged to!"

 

The child began to cry. Tom said:

 

"Oh, don't cry, Becky, I don't care for her any more."

 

"Yes, you do, Tom--you know you do."

 

Tom tried to put his arm about her neck, but she pushed him away and

turned her face to the wall, and went on crying. Tom tried again, with

soothing words in his mouth, and was repulsed again. Then his pride was

up, and he strode away and went outside. He stood about, restless and

uneasy, for a while, glancing at the door, every now and then, hoping

she would repent and come to find him. But she did not. Then he began

to feel badly and fear that he was in the wrong. It was a hard struggle

with him to make new advances, now, but he nerved himself to it and

entered. She was still standing back there in the corner, sobbing, with

her face to the wall. Tom's heart smote him. He went to her and stood a

moment, not knowing exactly how to proceed. Then he said hesitatingly:

 

"Becky, I--I don't care for anybody but you."

 

No reply--but sobs.

 

"Becky"--pleadingly. "Becky, won't you say something?"

 

More sobs.

 

Tom got out his chiefest jewel, a brass knob from the top of an

andiron, and passed it around her so that she could see it, and said:

 

"Please, Becky, won't you take it?"

 

She struck it to the floor. Then Tom marched out of the house and over

the hills and far away, to return to school no more that day. Presently

Becky began to suspect. She ran to the door; he was not in sight; she

flew around to the play-yard; he was not there. Then she called:

 

"Tom! Come back, Tom!"

 

She listened intently, but there was no answer. She had no companions

but silence and loneliness. So she sat down to cry again and upbraid

herself; and by this time the scholars began to gather again, and she

had to hide her griefs and still her broken heart and take up the cross

of a long, dreary, aching afternoon, with none among the strangers

about her to exchange sorrows with.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VIII

 

TOM dodged hither and thither through lanes until he was well out of

the track of returning scholars, and then fell into a moody jog. He

crossed a small "branch" two or three times, because of a prevailing

juvenile superstition that to cross water baffled pursuit. Half an hour

later he was disappearing behind the Douglas mansion on the summit of

Cardiff Hill, and the schoolhouse was hardly distinguishable away off

in the valley behind him. He entered a dense wood, picked his pathless

way to the centre of it, and sat down on a mossy spot under a spreading

oak. There was not even a zephyr stirring; the dead noonday heat had

even stilled the songs of the birds; nature lay in a trance that was

broken by no sound but the occasional far-off hammering of a

woodpecker, and this seemed to render the pervading silence and sense

of loneliness the more profound. The boy's soul was steeped in

melancholy; his feelings were in happy accord with his surroundings. He

sat long with his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands,

meditating. It seemed to him that life was but a trouble, at best, and

he more than half envied Jimmy Hodges, so lately released; it must be

very peaceful, he thought, to lie and slumber and dream forever and

ever, with the wind whispering through the trees and caressing the

grass and the flowers over the grave, and nothing to bother and grieve

about, ever any more. If he only had a clean Sunday-school record he

could be willing to go, and be done with it all. Now as to this girl.

What had he done? Nothing. He had meant the best in the world, and been

treated like a dog--like a very dog. She would be sorry some day--maybe

when it was too late. Ah, if he could only die TEMPORARILY!

 

But the elastic heart of youth cannot be compressed into one

constrained shape long at a time. Tom presently began to drift

insensibly back into the concerns of this life again. What if he turned

his back, now, and disappeared mysteriously? What if he went away--ever

so far away, into unknown countries beyond the seas--and never came

back any more! How would she feel then! The idea of being a clown

recurred to him now, only to fill him with disgust. For frivolity and

jokes and spotted tights were an offense, when they intruded themselves

upon a spirit that was exalted into the vague august realm of the

romantic. No, he would be a soldier, and return after long years, all

war-worn and illustrious. No--better still, he would join the Indians,

and hunt buffaloes and go on the warpath in the mountain ranges and the

trackless great plains of the Far West, and away in the future come

back a great chief, bristling with feathers, hideous with paint, and

prance into Sunday-school, some drowsy summer morning, with a

bloodcurdling war-whoop, and sear the eyeballs of all his companions

with unappeasable envy. But no, there was something gaudier even than

this. He would be a pirate! That was it! NOW his future lay plain

before him, and glowing with unimaginable splendor. How his name would

fill the world, and make people shudder! How gloriously he would go

plowing the dancing seas, in his long, low, black-hulled racer, the

Spirit of the Storm, with his grisly flag flying at the fore! And at

the zenith of his fame, how he would suddenly appear at the old village

and stalk into church, brown and weather-beaten, in his black velvet

doublet and trunks, his great jack-boots, his crimson sash, his belt

bristling with horse-pistols, his crime-rusted cutlass at his side, his

slouch hat with waving plumes, his black flag unfurled, with the skull

and crossbones on it, and hear with swelling ecstasy the whisperings,

"It's Tom Sawyer the Pirate!--the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main!"

 

Yes, it was settled; his career was determined. He would run away from

home and enter upon it. He would start the very next morning. Therefore

he must now begin to get ready. He would collect his resources

together. He went to a rotten log near at hand and began to dig under

one end of it with his Barlow knife. He soon struck wood that sounded

hollow. He put his hand there and uttered this incantation impressively:

 

"What hasn't come here, come! What's here, stay here!"

 

Then he scraped away the dirt, and exposed a pine shingle. He took it

up and disclosed a shapely little treasure-house whose bottom and sides

were of shingles. In it lay a marble. Tom's astonishment was boundless!

He scratched his head with a perplexed air, and said:

 

"Well, that beats anything!"

 

Then he tossed the marble away pettishly, and stood cogitating. The

truth was, that a superstition of his had failed, here, which he and

all his comrades had always looked upon as infallible. If you buried a

marble with certain necessary incantations, and left it alone a

fortnight, and then opened the place with the incantation he had just

used, you would find that all the marbles you had ever lost had

gathered themselves together there, meantime, no matter how widely they

had been separated. But now, this thing had actually and unquestionably

failed. Tom's whole structure of faith was shaken to its foundations.

He had many a time heard of this thing succeeding but never of its

failing before. It did not occur to him that he had tried it several

times before, himself, but could never find the hiding-places

afterward. He puzzled over the matter some time, and finally decided

that some witch had interfered and broken the charm. He thought he

would satisfy himself on that point; so he searched around till he

found a small sandy spot with a little funnel-shaped depression in it.

He laid himself down and put his mouth close to this depression and

called--

 

"Doodle-bug, doodle-bug, tell me what I want to know! Doodle-bug,

doodle-bug, tell me what I want to know!"

 

The sand began to work, and presently a small black bug appeared for a

second and then darted under again in a fright.

 

"He dasn't tell! So it WAS a witch that done it. I just knowed it."

 

He well knew the futility of trying to contend against witches, so he

gave up discouraged. But it occurred to him that he might as well have

the marble he had just thrown away, and therefore he went and made a

patient search for it. But he could not find it. Now he went back to

his treasure-house and carefully placed himself just as he had been

standing when he tossed the marble away; then he took another marble

from his pocket and tossed it in the same way, saying:

 

"Brother, go find your brother!"

 

He watched where it stopped, and went there and looked. But it must

have fallen short or gone too far; so he tried twice more. The last

repetition was successful. The two marbles lay within a foot of each

other.

 

Just here the blast of a toy tin trumpet came faintly down the green

aisles of the forest. Tom flung off his jacket and trousers, turned a

suspender into a belt, raked away some brush behind the rotten log,

disclosing a rude bow and arrow, a lath sword and a tin trumpet, and in

a moment had seized these things and bounded away, barelegged, with

fluttering shirt. He presently halted under a great elm, blew an

answering blast, and then began to tiptoe and look warily out, this way

and that. He said cautiously--to an imaginary company:

 

"Hold, my merry men! Keep hid till I blow."

 

Now appeared Joe Harper, as airily clad and elaborately armed as Tom.

Tom called:

 

"Hold! Who comes here into Sherwood Forest without my pass?"

 

"Guy of Guisborne wants no man's pass. Who art thou that--that--"

 

"Dares to hold such language," said Tom, prompting--for they talked

"by the book," from memory.

 

"Who art thou that dares to hold such language?"

 

"I, indeed! I am Robin Hood, as thy caitiff carcase soon shall know."

 

"Then art thou indeed that famous outlaw? Right gladly will I dispute

with thee the passes of the merry wood. Have at thee!"

 

They took their lath swords, dumped their other traps on the ground,

struck a fencing attitude, foot to foot, and began a grave, careful

combat, "two up and two down." Presently Tom said:

 

"Now, if you've got the hang, go it lively!"

 

So they "went it lively," panting and perspiring with the work. By and

by Tom shouted:

 

"Fall! fall! Why don't you fall?"

 

"I sha'n't! Why don't you fall yourself? You're getting the worst of

it."

 

"Why, that ain't anything. I can't fall; that ain't the way it is in

the book. The book says, 'Then with one back-handed stroke he slew poor

Guy of Guisborne.' You're to turn around and let me hit you in the

back."

 

There was no getting around the authorities, so Joe turned, received

the whack and fell.

 

"Now," said Joe, getting up, "you got to let me kill YOU. That's fair."

 

"Why, I can't do that, it ain't in the book."

 

"Well, it's blamed mean--that's all."

 

"Well, say, Joe, you can be Friar Tuck or Much the miller's son, and

lam me with a quarter-staff; or I'll be the Sheriff of Nottingham and

you be Robin Hood a little while and kill me."

 

This was satisfactory, and so these adventures were carried out. Then

Tom became Robin Hood again, and was allowed by the treacherous nun to

bleed his strength away through his neglected wound. And at last Joe,

representing a whole tribe of weeping outlaws, dragged him sadly forth,

gave his bow into his feeble hands, and Tom said, "Where this arrow

falls, there bury poor Robin Hood under the greenwood tree." Then he

shot the arrow and fell back and would have died, but he lit on a

nettle and sprang up too gaily for a corpse.

 

The boys dressed themselves, hid their accoutrements, and went off

grieving that there were no outlaws any more, and wondering what modern

civilization could claim to have done to compensate for their loss.

They said they would rather be outlaws a year in Sherwood Forest than

President of the United States forever.

 

 

 

CHAPTER IX

 

AT half-past nine, that night, Tom and Sid were sent to bed, as usual.

They said their prayers, and Sid was soon asleep. Tom lay awake and

waited, in restless impatience. When it seemed to him that it must be

nearly daylight, he heard the clock strike ten! This was despair. He

would have tossed and fidgeted, as his nerves demanded, but he was

afraid he might wake Sid. So he lay still, and stared up into the dark.

Everything was dismally still. By and by, out of the stillness, little,

scarcely perceptible noises began to emphasize themselves. The ticking

of the clock began to bring itself into notice. Old beams began to

crack mysteriously. The stairs creaked faintly. Evidently spirits were

abroad. A measured, muffled snore issued from Aunt Polly's chamber. And

now the tiresome chirping of a cricket that no human ingenuity could

locate, began. Next the ghastly ticking of a deathwatch in the wall at

the bed's head made Tom shudder--it meant that somebody's days were

numbered. Then the howl of a far-off dog rose on the night air, and was

answered by a fainter howl from a remoter distance. Tom was in an

agony. At last he was satisfied that time had ceased and eternity

begun; he began to doze, in spite of himself; the clock chimed eleven,

but he did not hear it. And then there came, mingling with his

half-formed dreams, a most melancholy caterwauling. The raising of a

neighboring window disturbed him. A cry of "Scat! you devil!" and the

crash of an empty bottle against the back of his aunt's woodshed

brought him wide awake, and a single minute later he was dressed and

out of the window and creeping along the roof of the "ell" on all

fours. He "meow'd" with caution once or twice, as he went; then jumped

to the roof of the woodshed and thence to the ground. Huckleberry Finn

was there, with his dead cat. The boys moved off and disappeared in the

gloom. At the end of half an hour they were wading through the tall

grass of the graveyard.

 

It was a graveyard of the old-fashioned Western kind. It was on a

hill, about a mile and a half from the village. It had a crazy board

fence around it, which leaned inward in places, and outward the rest of

the time, but stood upright nowhere. Grass and weeds grew rank over the

whole cemetery. All the old graves were sunken in, there was not a

tombstone on the place; round-topped, worm-eaten boards staggered over

the graves, leaning for support and finding none. "Sacred to the memory

of" So-and-So had been painted on them once, but it could no longer

have been read, on the most of them, now, even if there had been light.

 

A faint wind moaned through the trees, and Tom feared it might be the

spirits of the dead, complaining at being disturbed. The boys talked

little, and only under their breath, for the time and the place and the

pervading solemnity and silence oppressed their spirits. They found the

sharp new heap they were seeking, and ensconced themselves within the

protection of three great elms that grew in a bunch within a few feet

of the grave.

 

Then they waited in silence for what seemed a long time. The hooting

of a distant owl was all the sound that troubled the dead stillness.

Tom's reflections grew oppressive. He must force some talk. So he said

in a whisper:

 

"Hucky, do you believe the dead people like it for us to be here?"

 

Huckleberry whispered:

 

"I wisht I knowed. It's awful solemn like, AIN'T it?"

 

"I bet it is."

 

There was a considerable pause, while the boys canvassed this matter

inwardly. Then Tom whispered:

 

"Say, Hucky--do you reckon Hoss Williams hears us talking?"

 

"O' course he does. Least his sperrit does."

 

Tom, after a pause:

 

"I wish I'd said Mister Williams. But I never meant any harm.

Everybody calls him Hoss."

 

"A body can't be too partic'lar how they talk 'bout these-yer dead

people, Tom."

 

This was a damper, and conversation died again.

 

Presently Tom seized his comrade's arm and said:

 

"Sh!"

 

"What is it, Tom?" And the two clung together with beating hearts.

 

"Sh! There 'tis again! Didn't you hear it?"

 

"I--"

 

"There! Now you hear it."

 

"Lord, Tom, they're coming! They're coming, sure. What'll we do?"

 

"I dono. Think they'll see us?"

 

"Oh, Tom, they can see in the dark, same as cats. I wisht I hadn't

come."

 

"Oh, don't be afeard. I don't believe they'll bother us. We ain't

doing any harm. If we keep perfectly still, maybe they won't notice us

at all."

 

"I'll try to, Tom, but, Lord, I'm all of a shiver."

 

"Listen!"

 

The boys bent their heads together and scarcely breathed. A muffled

sound of voices floated up from the far end of the graveyard.

 

"Look! See there!" whispered Tom. "What is it?"

 

"It's devil-fire. Oh, Tom, this is awful."

 

Some vague figures approached through the gloom, swinging an

old-fashioned tin lantern that freckled the ground with innumerable

little spangles of light. Presently Huckleberry whispered with a

shudder:

 

"It's the devils sure enough. Three of 'em! Lordy, Tom, we're goners!

Can you pray?"

 

"I'll try, but don't you be afeard. They ain't going to hurt us. 'Now

I lay me down to sleep, I--'"

 

"Sh!"

 

"What is it, Huck?"

 

"They're HUMANS! One of 'em is, anyway. One of 'em's old Muff Potter's

voice."

 

"No--'tain't so, is it?"

 

"I bet I know it. Don't you stir nor budge. He ain't sharp enough to

notice us. Drunk, the same as usual, likely--blamed old rip!"

 

"All right, I'll keep still. Now they're stuck. Can't find it. Here

they come again. Now they're hot. Cold again. Hot again. Red hot!

They're p'inted right, this time. Say, Huck, I know another o' them

voices; it's Injun Joe."

 

"That's so--that murderin' half-breed! I'd druther they was devils a

dern sight. What kin they be up to?"

 

The whisper died wholly out, now, for the three men had reached the

grave and stood within a few feet of the boys' hiding-place.

 

"Here it is," said the third voice; and the owner of it held the

lantern up and revealed the face of young Doctor Robinson.

 

Potter and Injun Joe were carrying a handbarrow with a rope and a

couple of shovels on it. They cast down their load and began to open

the grave. The doctor put the lantern at the head of the grave and came

and sat down with his back against one of the elm trees. He was so

close the boys could have touched him.

 

"Hurry, men!" he said, in a low voice; "the moon might come out at any

moment."

 

They growled a response and went on digging. For some time there was

no noise but the grating sound of the spades discharging their freight

of mould and gravel. It was very monotonous. Finally a spade struck

upon the coffin with a dull woody accent, and within another minute or

two the men had hoisted it out on the ground. They pried off the lid

with their shovels, got out the body and dumped it rudely on the

ground. The moon drifted from behind the clouds and exposed the pallid

face. The barrow was got ready and the corpse placed on it, covered

with a blanket, and bound to its place with the rope. Potter took out a

large spring-knife and cut off the dangling end of the rope and then

said:

 

"Now the cussed thing's ready, Sawbones, and you'll just out with

another five, or here she stays."

 

"That's the talk!" said Injun Joe.

 

"Look here, what does this mean?" said the doctor. "You required your

pay in advance, and I've paid you."

 

"Yes, and you done more than that," said Injun Joe, approaching the

doctor, who was now standing. "Five years ago you drove me away from

your father's kitchen one night, when I come to ask for something to

eat, and you said I warn't there for any good; and when I swore I'd get

even with you if it took a hundred years, your father had me jailed for

a vagrant. Did you think I'd forget? The Injun blood ain't in me for

nothing. And now I've GOT you, and you got to SETTLE, you know!"

 

He was threatening the doctor, with his fist in his face, by this

time. The doctor struck out suddenly and stretched the ruffian on the

ground. Potter dropped his knife, and exclaimed:

 

"Here, now, don't you hit my pard!" and the next moment he had

grappled with the doctor and the two were struggling with might and

main, trampling the grass and tearing the ground with their heels.

Injun Joe sprang to his feet, his eyes flaming with passion, snatched

up Potter's knife, and went creeping, catlike and stooping, round and

round about the combatants, seeking an opportunity. All at once the

doctor flung himself free, seized the heavy headboard of Williams'

grave and felled Potter to the earth with it--and in the same instant

the half-breed saw his chance and drove the knife to the hilt in the

young man's breast. He reeled and fell partly upon Potter, flooding him

with his blood, and in the same moment the clouds blotted out the

dreadful spectacle and the two frightened boys went speeding away in

the dark.

 

Presently, when the moon emerged again, Injun Joe was standing over

the two forms, contemplating them. The doctor murmured inarticulately,

gave a long gasp or two and was still. The half-breed muttered:

 

"THAT score is settled--damn you."

 

Then he robbed the body. After which he put the fatal knife in

Potter's open right hand, and sat down on the dismantled coffin. Three

--four--five minutes passed, and then Potter began to stir and moan. His

hand closed upon the knife; he raised it, glanced at it, and let it

fall, with a shudder. Then he sat up, pushing the body from him, and

gazed at it, and then around him, confusedly. His eyes met Joe's.

 

"Lord, how is this, Joe?" he said.

 

"It's a dirty business," said Joe, without moving.

 

"What did you do it for?"

 

"I! I never done it!"

 

"Look here! That kind of talk won't wash."

 

Potter trembled and grew white.

 

"I thought I'd got sober. I'd no business to drink to-night. But it's

in my head yet--worse'n when we started here. I'm all in a muddle;

can't recollect anything of it, hardly. Tell me, Joe--HONEST, now, old

feller--did I do it? Joe, I never meant to--'pon my soul and honor, I

never meant to, Joe. Tell me how it was, Joe. Oh, it's awful--and him

so young and promising."

 

"Why, you two was scuffling, and he fetched you one with the headboard

and you fell flat; and then up you come, all reeling and staggering

like, and snatched the knife and jammed it into him, just as he fetched

you another awful clip--and here you've laid, as dead as a wedge til

now."

 

"Oh, I didn't know what I was a-doing. I wish I may die this minute if

I did. It was all on account of the whiskey and the excitement, I

reckon. I never used a weepon in my life before, Joe. I've fought, but

never with weepons. They'll all say that. Joe, don't tell! Say you

won't tell, Joe--that's a good feller. I always liked you, Joe, and

stood up for you, too. Don't you remember? You WON'T tell, WILL you,

Joe?" And the poor creature dropped on his knees before the stolid

murderer, and clasped his appealing hands.

 

"No, you've always been fair and square with me, Muff Potter, and I

won't go back on you. There, now, that's as fair as a man can say."

 

"Oh, Joe, you're an angel. I'll bless you for this the longest day I

live." And Potter began to cry.

 

"Come, now, that's enough of that. This ain't any time for blubbering.

You be off yonder way and I'll go this. Move, now, and don't leave any

tracks behind you."

 

Potter started on a trot that quickly increased to a run. The

half-breed stood looking after him. He muttered:

 

"If he's as much stunned with the lick and fuddled with the rum as he

had the look of being, he won't think of the knife till he's gone so

far he'll be afraid to come back after it to such a place by himself

--chicken-heart!"

 

Two or three minutes later the murdered man, the blanketed corpse, the

lidless coffin, and the open grave were under no inspection but the

moon's. The stillness was complete again, too.

 

 

 

CHAPTER X

 

THE two boys flew on and on, toward the village, speechless with

horror. They glanced backward over their shoulders from time to time,

apprehensively, as if they feared they might be followed. Every stump

that started up in their path seemed a man and an enemy, and made them

catch their breath; and as they sped by some outlying cottages that lay

near the village, the barking of the aroused watch-dogs seemed to give

wings to their feet.

 

"If we can only get to the old tannery before we break down!"

whispered Tom, in short catches between breaths. "I can't stand it much

longer."

 

Huckleberry's hard pantings were his only reply, and the boys fixed

their eyes on the goal of their hopes and bent to their work to win it.

They gained steadily on it, and at last, breast to breast, they burst

through the open door and fell grateful and exhausted in the sheltering

shadows beyond. By and by their pulses slowed down, and Tom whispered:

 

"Huckleberry, what do you reckon'll come of this?"

 

"If Doctor Robinson dies, I reckon hanging'll come of it."

 

"Do you though?"

 

"Why, I KNOW it, Tom."

 

Tom thought a while, then he said:

 

"Who'll tell? We?"

 

"What are you talking about? S'pose something happened and Injun Joe

DIDN'T hang? Why, he'd kill us some time or other, just as dead sure as

we're a laying here."

 

"That's just what I was thinking to myself, Huck."

 

"If anybody tells, let Muff Potter do it, if he's fool enough. He's

generally drunk enough."

 

Tom said nothing--went on thinking. Presently he whispered:

 

"Huck, Muff Potter don't know it. How can he tell?"

 

"What's the reason he don't know it?"

 

"Because he'd just got that whack when Injun Joe done it. D'you reckon

he could see anything? D'you reckon he knowed anything?"

 

"By hokey, that's so, Tom!"

 

"And besides, look-a-here--maybe that whack done for HIM!"

 

"No, 'taint likely, Tom. He had liquor in him; I could see that; and

besides, he always has. Well, when pap's full, you might take and belt

him over the head with a church and you couldn't phase him. He says so,

his own self. So it's the same with Muff Potter, of course. But if a

man was dead sober, I reckon maybe that whack might fetch him; I dono."

 

After another reflective silence, Tom said:

 

"Hucky, you sure you can keep mum?"

 

"Tom, we GOT to keep mum. You know that. That Injun devil wouldn't

make any more of drownding us than a couple of cats, if we was to

squeak 'bout this and they didn't hang him. Now, look-a-here, Tom, less

take and swear to one another--that's what we got to do--swear to keep

mum."

 

"I'm agreed. It's the best thing. Would you just hold hands and swear

that we--"

 

"Oh no, that wouldn't do for this. That's good enough for little

rubbishy common things--specially with gals, cuz THEY go back on you

anyway, and blab if they get in a huff--but there orter be writing

'bout a big thing like this. And blood."

 

Tom's whole being applauded this idea. It was deep, and dark, and

awful; the hour, the circumstances, the surroundings, were in keeping

with it. He picked up a clean pine shingle that lay in the moonlight,

took a little fragment of "red keel" out of his pocket, got the moon on

his work, and painfully scrawled these lines, emphasizing each slow

down-stroke by clamping his tongue between his teeth, and letting up

the pressure on the up-strokes. [See next page.]

 

   "Huck Finn and

    Tom Sawyer swears

    they will keep mum

    about This and They

    wish They may Drop

    down dead in Their

    Tracks if They ever

    Tell and Rot."

 

Huckleberry was filled with admiration of Tom's facility in writing,

and the sublimity of his language. He at once took a pin from his lapel

and was going to prick his flesh, but Tom said:

 

"Hold on! Don't do that. A pin's brass. It might have verdigrease on

it."

 

"What's verdigrease?"

 

"It's p'ison. That's what it is. You just swaller some of it once

--you'll see."

 

So Tom unwound the thread from one of his needles, and each boy

pricked the ball of his thumb and squeezed out a drop of blood. In

time, after many squeezes, Tom managed to sign his initials, using the

ball of his little finger for a pen. Then he showed Huckleberry how to

make an H and an F, and the oath was complete. They buried the shingle

close to the wall, with some dismal ceremonies and incantations, and

the fetters that bound their tongues were considered to be locked and

the key thrown away.

 

A figure crept stealthily through a break in the other end of the

ruined building, now, but they did not notice it.

 

"Tom," whispered Huckleberry, "does this keep us from EVER telling

--ALWAYS?"

 

"Of course it does. It don't make any difference WHAT happens, we got

to keep mum. We'd drop down dead--don't YOU know that?"

 

"Yes, I reckon that's so."

 

They continued to whisper for some little time. Presently a dog set up

a long, lugubrious howl just outside--within ten feet of them. The boys

clasped each other suddenly, in an agony of fright.

 

"Which of us does he mean?" gasped Huckleberry.

 

"I dono--peep through the crack. Quick!"

 

"No, YOU, Tom!"

 

"I can't--I can't DO it, Huck!"

 

"Please, Tom. There 'tis again!"

 

"Oh, lordy, I'm thankful!" whispered Tom. "I know his voice. It's Bull

Harbison." *

 

[* If Mr. Harbison owned a slave named Bull, Tom would have spoken of

him as "Harbison's Bull," but a son or a dog of that name was "Bull

Harbison."]

 

"Oh, that's good--I tell you, Tom, I was most scared to death; I'd a

bet anything it was a STRAY dog."

 

The dog howled again. The boys' hearts sank once more.

 

"Oh, my! that ain't no Bull Harbison!" whispered Huckleberry. "DO, Tom!"

 

Tom, quaking with fear, yielded, and put his eye to the crack. His

whisper was hardly audible when he said:

 

"Oh, Huck, IT S A STRAY DOG!"

 

"Quick, Tom, quick! Who does he mean?"

 

"Huck, he must mean us both--we're right together."

 

"Oh, Tom, I reckon we're goners. I reckon there ain't no mistake 'bout

where I'LL go to. I been so wicked."

 

"Dad fetch it! This comes of playing hookey and doing everything a

feller's told NOT to do. I might a been good, like Sid, if I'd a tried

--but no, I wouldn't, of course. But if ever I get off this time, I lay

I'll just WALLER in Sunday-schools!" And Tom began to snuffle a little.

 

"YOU bad!" and Huckleberry began to snuffle too. "Consound it, Tom

Sawyer, you're just old pie, 'longside o' what I am. Oh, LORDY, lordy,

lordy, I wisht I only had half your chance."

 

Tom choked off and whispered:

 

"Look, Hucky, look! He's got his BACK to us!"

 

Hucky looked, with joy in his heart.

 

"Well, he has, by jingoes! Did he before?"

 

"Yes, he did. But I, like a fool, never thought. Oh, this is bully,

you know. NOW who can he mean?"

 

The howling stopped. Tom pricked up his ears.

 

"Sh! What's that?" he whispered.

 

"Sounds like--like hogs grunting. No--it's somebody snoring, Tom."

 

"That IS it! Where 'bouts is it, Huck?"

 

"I bleeve it's down at 'tother end. Sounds so, anyway. Pap used to

sleep there, sometimes, 'long with the hogs, but laws bless you, he

just lifts things when HE snores. Besides, I reckon he ain't ever

coming back to this town any more."

 

The spirit of adventure rose in the boys' souls once more.

 

"Hucky, do you das't to go if I lead?"

 

"I don't like to, much. Tom, s'pose it's Injun Joe!"

 

Tom quailed. But presently the temptation rose up strong again and the

boys agreed to try, with the understanding that they would take to

their heels if the snoring stopped. So they went tiptoeing stealthily

down, the one behind the other. When they had got to within five steps

of the snorer, Tom stepped on a stick, and it broke with a sharp snap.

The man moaned, writhed a little, and his face came into the moonlight.

It was Muff Potter. The boys' hearts had stood still, and their hopes

too, when the man moved, but their fears passed away now. They tiptoed

out, through the broken weather-boarding, and stopped at a little

distance to exchange a parting word. That long, lugubrious howl rose on

the night air again! They turned and saw the strange dog standing

within a few feet of where Potter was lying, and FACING Potter, with

his nose pointing heavenward.

 

"Oh, geeminy, it's HIM!" exclaimed both boys, in a breath.

 

"Say, Tom--they say a stray dog come howling around Johnny Miller's

house, 'bout midnight, as much as two weeks ago; and a whippoorwill

come in and lit on the banisters and sung, the very same evening; and

there ain't anybody dead there yet."

 

"Well, I know that. And suppose there ain't. Didn't Gracie Miller fall

in the kitchen fire and burn herself terrible the very next Saturday?"

 

"Yes, but she ain't DEAD. And what's more, she's getting better, too."

 

"All right, you wait and see. She's a goner, just as dead sure as Muff

Potter's a goner. That's what the niggers say, and they know all about

these kind of things, Huck."

 

Then they separated, cogitating. When Tom crept in at his bedroom

window the night was almost spent. He undressed with excessive caution,

and fell asleep congratulating himself that nobody knew of his

escapade. He was not aware that the gently-snoring Sid was awake, and

had been so for an hour.

 

When Tom awoke, Sid was dressed and gone. There was a late look in the

light, a late sense in the atmosphere. He was startled. Why had he not

been called--persecuted till he was up, as usual? The thought filled

him with bodings. Within five minutes he was dressed and down-stairs,

feeling sore and drowsy. The family were still at table, but they had

finished breakfast. There was no voice of rebuke; but there were

averted eyes; there was a silence and an air of solemnity that struck a

chill to the culprit's heart. He sat down and tried to seem gay, but it

was up-hill work; it roused no smile, no response, and he lapsed into

silence and let his heart sink down to the depths.

 

After breakfast his aunt took him aside, and Tom almost brightened in

the hope that he was going to be flogged; but it was not so. His aunt

wept over him and asked him how he could go and break her old heart so;

and finally told him to go on, and ruin himself and bring her gray

hairs with sorrow to the grave, for it was no use for her to try any

more. This was worse than a thousand whippings, and Tom's heart was

sorer now than his body. He cried, he pleaded for forgiveness, promised

to reform over and over again, and then received his dismissal, feeling

that he had won but an imperfect forgiveness and established but a

feeble confidence.

 

He left the presence too miserable to even feel revengeful toward Sid;

and so the latter's prompt retreat through the back gate was

unnecessary. He moped to school gloomy and sad, and took his flogging,

along with Joe Harper, for playing hookey the day before, with the air

of one whose heart was busy with heavier woes and wholly dead to

trifles. Then he betook himself to his seat, rested his elbows on his

desk and his jaws in his hands, and stared at the wall with the stony

stare of suffering that has reached the limit and can no further go.

His elbow was pressing against some hard substance. After a long time

he slowly and sadly changed his position, and took up this object with

a sigh. It was in a paper. He unrolled it. A long, lingering, colossal

sigh followed, and his heart broke. It was his brass andiron knob!

 

This final feather broke the camel's back.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XI

 

CLOSE upon the hour of noon the whole village was suddenly electrified

with the ghastly news. No need of the as yet undreamed-of telegraph;

the tale flew from man to man, from group to group, from house to

house, with little less than telegraphic speed. Of course the

schoolmaster gave holiday for that afternoon; the town would have

thought strangely of him if he had not.

 

A gory knife had been found close to the murdered man, and it had been

recognized by somebody as belonging to Muff Potter--so the story ran.

And it was said that a belated citizen had come upon Potter washing

himself in the "branch" about one or two o'clock in the morning, and

that Potter had at once sneaked off--suspicious circumstances,

especially the washing which was not a habit with Potter. It was also

said that the town had been ransacked for this "murderer" (the public

are not slow in the matter of sifting evidence and arriving at a

verdict), but that he could not be found. Horsemen had departed down

all the roads in every direction, and the Sheriff "was confident" that

he would be captured before night.

 

All the town was drifting toward the graveyard. Tom's heartbreak

vanished and he joined the procession, not because he would not a

thousand times rather go anywhere else, but because an awful,

unaccountable fascination drew him on. Arrived at the dreadful place,

he wormed his small body through the crowd and saw the dismal

spectacle. It seemed to him an age since he was there before. Somebody

pinched his arm. He turned, and his eyes met Huckleberry's. Then both

looked elsewhere at once, and wondered if anybody had noticed anything

in their mutual glance. But everybody was talking, and intent upon the

grisly spectacle before them.

 

"Poor fellow!" "Poor young fellow!" "This ought to be a lesson to

grave robbers!" "Muff Potter'll hang for this if they catch him!" This

was the drift of remark; and the minister said, "It was a judgment; His

hand is here."

 

Now Tom shivered from head to heel; for his eye fell upon the stolid

face of Injun Joe. At this moment the crowd began to sway and struggle,

and voices shouted, "It's him! it's him! he's coming himself!"

 

"Who? Who?" from twenty voices.

 

"Muff Potter!"

 

"Hallo, he's stopped!--Look out, he's turning! Don't let him get away!"

 

People in the branches of the trees over Tom's head said he wasn't

trying to get away--he only looked doubtful and perplexed.

 

"Infernal impudence!" said a bystander; "wanted to come and take a

quiet look at his work, I reckon--didn't expect any company."

 

The crowd fell apart, now, and the Sheriff came through,

ostentatiously leading Potter by the arm. The poor fellow's face was

haggard, and his eyes showed the fear that was upon him. When he stood

before the murdered man, he shook as with a palsy, and he put his face

in his hands and burst into tears.

 

"I didn't do it, friends," he sobbed; "'pon my word and honor I never

done it."

 

"Who's accused you?" shouted a voice.

 

This shot seemed to carry home. Potter lifted his face and looked

around him with a pathetic hopelessness in his eyes. He saw Injun Joe,

and exclaimed:

 

"Oh, Injun Joe, you promised me you'd never--"

 

"Is that your knife?" and it was thrust before him by the Sheriff.

 

Potter would have fallen if they had not caught him and eased him to

the ground. Then he said:

 

"Something told me 't if I didn't come back and get--" He shuddered;

then waved his nerveless hand with a vanquished gesture and said, "Tell

'em, Joe, tell 'em--it ain't any use any more."

 

Then Huckleberry and Tom stood dumb and staring, and heard the

stony-hearted liar reel off his serene statement, they expecting every

moment that the clear sky would deliver God's lightnings upon his head,

and wondering to see how long the stroke was delayed. And when he had

finished and still stood alive and whole, their wavering impulse to

break their oath and save the poor betrayed prisoner's life faded and

vanished away, for plainly this miscreant had sold himself to Satan and

it would be fatal to meddle with the property of such a power as that.

 

"Why didn't you leave? What did you want to come here for?" somebody

said.

 

"I couldn't help it--I couldn't help it," Potter moaned. "I wanted to

run away, but I couldn't seem to come anywhere but here." And he fell

to sobbing again.

 

Injun Joe repeated his statement, just as calmly, a few minutes

afterward on the inquest, under oath; and the boys, seeing that the

lightnings were still withheld, were confirmed in their belief that Joe

had sold himself to the devil. He was now become, to them, the most

balefully interesting object they had ever looked upon, and they could

not take their fascinated eyes from his face.

 

They inwardly resolved to watch him nights, when opportunity should

offer, in the hope of getting a glimpse of his dread master.

 

Injun Joe helped to raise the body of the murdered man and put it in a

wagon for removal; and it was whispered through the shuddering crowd

that the wound bled a little! The boys thought that this happy

circumstance would turn suspicion in the right direction; but they were

disappointed, for more than one villager remarked:

 

"It was within three feet of Muff Potter when it done it."

 

Tom's fearful secret and gnawing conscience disturbed his sleep for as

much as a week after this; and at breakfast one morning Sid said:

 

"Tom, you pitch around and talk in your sleep so much that you keep me

awake half the time."

 

Tom blanched and dropped his eyes.

 

"It's a bad sign," said Aunt Polly, gravely. "What you got on your

mind, Tom?"

 

"Nothing. Nothing 't I know of." But the boy's hand shook so that he

spilled his coffee.

 

"And you do talk such stuff," Sid said. "Last night you said, 'It's

blood, it's blood, that's what it is!' You said that over and over. And

you said, 'Don't torment me so--I'll tell!' Tell WHAT? What is it

you'll tell?"

 

Everything was swimming before Tom. There is no telling what might

have happened, now, but luckily the concern passed out of Aunt Polly's

face and she came to Tom's relief without knowing it. She said:

 

"Sho! It's that dreadful murder. I dream about it most every night

myself. Sometimes I dream it's me that done it."

 

Mary said she had been affected much the same way. Sid seemed

satisfied. Tom got out of the presence as quick as he plausibly could,

and after that he complained of toothache for a week, and tied up his

jaws every night. He never knew that Sid lay nightly watching, and

frequently slipped the bandage free and then leaned on his elbow

listening a good while at a time, and afterward slipped the bandage

back to its place again. Tom's distress of mind wore off gradually and

the toothache grew irksome and was discarded. If Sid really managed to

make anything out of Tom's disjointed mutterings, he kept it to himself.

 

It seemed to Tom that his schoolmates never would get done holding

inquests on dead cats, and thus keeping his trouble present to his

mind. Sid noticed that Tom never was coroner at one of these inquiries,

though it had been his habit to take the lead in all new enterprises;

he noticed, too, that Tom never acted as a witness--and that was

strange; and Sid did not overlook the fact that Tom even showed a

marked aversion to these inquests, and always avoided them when he

could. Sid marvelled, but said nothing. However, even inquests went out

of vogue at last, and ceased to torture Tom's conscience.

 

Every day or two, during this time of sorrow, Tom watched his

opportunity and went to the little grated jail-window and smuggled such

small comforts through to the "murderer" as he could get hold of. The

jail was a trifling little brick den that stood in a marsh at the edge

of the village, and no guards were afforded for it; indeed, it was

seldom occupied. These offerings greatly helped to ease Tom's

conscience.

 

The villagers had a strong desire to tar-and-feather Injun Joe and

ride him on a rail, for body-snatching, but so formidable was his

character that nobody could be found who was willing to take the lead

in the matter, so it was dropped. He had been careful to begin both of

his inquest-statements with the fight, without confessing the

grave-robbery that preceded it; therefore it was deemed wisest not

to try the case in the courts at present.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XII

 

ONE of the reasons why Tom's mind had drifted away from its secret

troubles was, that it had found a new and weighty matter to interest

itself about. Becky Thatcher had stopped coming to school. Tom had

struggled with his pride a few days, and tried to "whistle her down the

wind," but failed. He began to find himself hanging around her father's

house, nights, and feeling very miserable. She was ill. What if she

should die! There was distraction in the thought. He no longer took an

interest in war, nor even in piracy. The charm of life was gone; there

was nothing but dreariness left. He put his hoop away, and his bat;

there was no joy in them any more. His aunt was concerned. She began to

try all manner of remedies on him. She was one of those people who are

infatuated with patent medicines and all new-fangled methods of

producing health or mending it. She was an inveterate experimenter in

these things. When something fresh in this line came out she was in a

fever, right away, to try it; not on herself, for she was never ailing,

but on anybody else that came handy. She was a subscriber for all the

"Health" periodicals and phrenological frauds; and the solemn ignorance

they were inflated with was breath to her nostrils. All the "rot" they

contained about ventilation, and how to go to bed, and how to get up,

and what to eat, and what to drink, and how much exercise to take, and

what frame of mind to keep one's self in, and what sort of clothing to

wear, was all gospel to her, and she never observed that her

health-journals of the current month customarily upset everything they

had recommended the month before. She was as simple-hearted and honest

as the day was long, and so she was an easy victim. She gathered

together her quack periodicals and her quack medicines, and thus armed

with death, went about on her pale horse, metaphorically speaking, with

"hell following after." But she never suspected that she was not an

angel of healing and the balm of Gilead in disguise, to the suffering

neighbors.

 

The water treatment was new, now, and Tom's low condition was a

windfall to her. She had him out at daylight every morning, stood him

up in the woodshed and drowned him with a deluge of cold water; then

she scrubbed him down with a towel like a file, and so brought him to;

then she rolled him up in a wet sheet and put him away under blankets

till she sweated his soul clean and "the yellow stains of it came

through his pores"--as Tom said.

 

Yet notwithstanding all this, the boy grew more and more melancholy

and pale and dejected. She added hot baths, sitz baths, shower baths,

and plunges. The boy remained as dismal as a hearse. She began to

assist the water with a slim oatmeal diet and blister-plasters. She

calculated his capacity as she would a jug's, and filled him up every

day with quack cure-alls.

 

Tom had become indifferent to persecution by this time. This phase

filled the old lady's heart with consternation. This indifference must

be broken up at any cost. Now she heard of Pain-killer for the first

time. She ordered a lot at once. She tasted it and was filled with

gratitude. It was simply fire in a liquid form. She dropped the water

treatment and everything else, and pinned her faith to Pain-killer. She

gave Tom a teaspoonful and watched with the deepest anxiety for the

result. Her troubles were instantly at rest, her soul at peace again;

for the "indifference" was broken up. The boy could not have shown a

wilder, heartier interest, if she had built a fire under him.

 

Tom felt that it was time to wake up; this sort of life might be

romantic enough, in his blighted condition, but it was getting to have

too little sentiment and too much distracting variety about it. So he

thought over various plans for relief, and finally hit pon that of

professing to be fond of Pain-killer. He asked for it so often that he

became a nuisance, and his aunt ended by telling him to help himself

and quit bothering her. If it had been Sid, she would have had no

misgivings to alloy her delight; but since it was Tom, she watched the

bottle clandestinely. She found that the medicine did really diminish,

but it did not occur to her that the boy was mending the health of a

crack in the sitting-room floor with it.

 

One day Tom was in the act of dosing the crack when his aunt's yellow

cat came along, purring, eying the teaspoon avariciously, and begging

for a taste. Tom said:

 

"Don't ask for it unless you want it, Peter."

 

But Peter signified that he did want it.

 

"You better make sure."

 

Peter was sure.

 

"Now you've asked for it, and I'll give it to you, because there ain't

anything mean about me; but if you find you don't like it, you mustn't

blame anybody but your own self."

 

Peter was agreeable. So Tom pried his mouth open and poured down the

Pain-killer. Peter sprang a couple of yards in the air, and then

delivered a war-whoop and set off round and round the room, banging

against furniture, upsetting flower-pots, and making general havoc.

Next he rose on his hind feet and pranced around, in a frenzy of

enjoyment, with his head over his shoulder and his voice proclaiming

his unappeasable happiness. Then he went tearing around the house again

spreading chaos and destruction in his path. Aunt Polly entered in time

to see him throw a few double summersets, deliver a final mighty

hurrah, and sail through the open window, carrying the rest of the

flower-pots with him. The old lady stood petrified with astonishment,

peering over her glasses; Tom lay on the floor expiring with laughter.

 

"Tom, what on earth ails that cat?"

 

"I don't know, aunt," gasped the boy.

 

"Why, I never see anything like it. What did make him act so?"

 

"Deed I don't know, Aunt Polly; cats always act so when they're having

a good time."

 

"They do, do they?" There was something in the tone that made Tom

apprehensive.

 

"Yes'm. That is, I believe they do."

 

"You DO?"

 

"Yes'm."

 

The old lady was bending down, Tom watching, with interest emphasized

by anxiety. Too late he divined her "drift." The handle of the telltale

teaspoon was visible under the bed-valance. Aunt Polly took it, held it

up. Tom winced, and dropped his eyes. Aunt Polly raised him by the

usual handle--his ear--and cracked his head soundly with her thimble.

 

"Now, sir, what did you want to treat that poor dumb beast so, for?"

 

"I done it out of pity for him--because he hadn't any aunt."

 

"Hadn't any aunt!--you numskull. What has that got to do with it?"

 

"Heaps. Because if he'd had one she'd a burnt him out herself! She'd a

roasted his bowels out of him 'thout any more feeling than if he was a

human!"

 

Aunt Polly felt a sudden pang of remorse. This was putting the thing

in a new light; what was cruelty to a cat MIGHT be cruelty to a boy,

too. She began to soften; she felt sorry. Her eyes watered a little,

and she put her hand on Tom's head and said gently:

 

"I was meaning for the best, Tom. And, Tom, it DID do you good."

 

Tom looked up in her face with just a perceptible twinkle peeping

through his gravity.

 

"I know you was meaning for the best, aunty, and so was I with Peter.

It done HIM good, too. I never see him get around so since--"

 

"Oh, go 'long with you, Tom, before you aggravate me again. And you

try and see if you can't be a good boy, for once, and you needn't take

any more medicine."

 

Tom reached school ahead of time. It was noticed that this strange

thing had been occurring every day latterly. And now, as usual of late,

he hung about the gate of the schoolyard instead of playing with his

comrades. He was sick, he said, and he looked it. He tried to seem to

be looking everywhere but whither he really was looking--down the road.

Presently Jeff Thatcher hove in sight, and Tom's face lighted; he gazed

a moment, and then turned sorrowfully away. When Jeff arrived, Tom

accosted him; and "led up" warily to opportunities for remark about

Becky, but the giddy lad never could see the bait. Tom watched and

watched, hoping whenever a frisking frock came in sight, and hating the

owner of it as soon as he saw she was not the right one. At last frocks

ceased to appear, and he dropped hopelessly into the dumps; he entered

the empty schoolhouse and sat down to suffer. Then one more frock

passed in at the gate, and Tom's heart gave a great bound. The next

instant he was out, and "going on" like an Indian; yelling, laughing,

chasing boys, jumping over the fence at risk of life and limb, throwing

handsprings, standing on his head--doing all the heroic things he could

conceive of, and keeping a furtive eye out, all the while, to see if

Becky Thatcher was noticing. But she seemed to be unconscious of it

all; she never looked. Could it be possible that she was not aware that

he was there? He carried his exploits to her immediate vicinity; came

war-whooping around, snatched a boy's cap, hurled it to the roof of the

schoolhouse, broke through a group of boys, tumbling them in every

direction, and fell sprawling, himself, under Becky's nose, almost

upsetting her--and she turned, with her nose in the air, and he heard

her say: "Mf! some people think they're mighty smart--always showing

off!"

 

Tom's cheeks burned. He gathered himself up and sneaked off, crushed

and crestfallen.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XIII

 

TOM'S mind was made up now. He was gloomy and desperate. He was a

forsaken, friendless boy, he said; nobody loved him; when they found

out what they had driven him to, perhaps they would be sorry; he had

tried to do right and get along, but they would not let him; since

nothing would do them but to be rid of him, let it be so; and let them

blame HIM for the consequences--why shouldn't they? What right had the

friendless to complain? Yes, they had forced him to it at last: he

would lead a life of crime. There was no choice.

 

By this time he was far down Meadow Lane, and the bell for school to

"take up" tinkled faintly upon his ear. He sobbed, now, to think he

should never, never hear that old familiar sound any more--it was very

hard, but it was forced on him; since he was driven out into the cold

world, he must submit--but he forgave them. Then the sobs came thick

and fast.

 

Just at this point he met his soul's sworn comrade, Joe Harper

--hard-eyed, and with evidently a great and dismal purpose in his heart.

Plainly here were "two souls with but a single thought." Tom, wiping

his eyes with his sleeve, began to blubber out something about a

resolution to escape from hard usage and lack of sympathy at home by

roaming abroad into the great world never to return; and ended by

hoping that Joe would not forget him.

 

But it transpired that this was a request which Joe had just been

going to make of Tom, and had come to hunt him up for that purpose. His

mother had whipped him for drinking some cream which he had never

tasted and knew nothing about; it was plain that she was tired of him

and wished him to go; if she felt that way, there was nothing for him

to do but succumb; he hoped she would be happy, and never regret having

driven her poor boy out into the unfeeling world to suffer and die.

 

As the two boys walked sorrowing along, they made a new compact to

stand by each other and be brothers and never separate till death

relieved them of their troubles. Then they began to lay their plans.

Joe was for being a hermit, and living on crusts in a remote cave, and

dying, some time, of cold and want and grief; but after listening to

Tom, he conceded that there were some conspicuous advantages about a

life of crime, and so he consented to be a pirate.

 

Three miles below St. Petersburg, at a point where the Mississippi

River was a trifle over a mile wide, there was a long, narrow, wooded

island, with a shallow bar at the head of it, and this offered well as

a rendezvous. It was not inhabited; it lay far over toward the further

shore, abreast a dense and almost wholly unpeopled forest. So Jackson's

Island was chosen. Who were to be the subjects of their piracies was a

matter that did not occur to them. Then they hunted up Huckleberry

Finn, and he joined them promptly, for all careers were one to him; he

was indifferent. They presently separated to meet at a lonely spot on

the river-bank two miles above the village at the favorite hour--which

was midnight. There was a small log raft there which they meant to

capture. Each would bring hooks and lines, and such provision as he

could steal in the most dark and mysterious way--as became outlaws. And

before the afternoon was done, they had all managed to enjoy the sweet

glory of spreading the fact that pretty soon the town would "hear

something." All who got this vague hint were cautioned to "be mum and

wait."

 

About midnight Tom arrived with a boiled ham and a few trifles,

and stopped in a dense undergrowth on a small bluff overlooking the

meeting-place. It was starlight, and very still. The mighty river lay

like an ocean at rest. Tom listened a moment, but no sound disturbed the

quiet. Then he gave a low, distinct whistle. It was answered from under

the bluff. Tom whistled twice more; these signals were answered in the

same way. Then a guarded voice said:

 

"Who goes there?"

 

"Tom Sawyer, the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main. Name your names."

 

"Huck Finn the Red-Handed, and Joe Harper the Terror of the Seas." Tom

had furnished these titles, from his favorite literature.

 

"'Tis well. Give the countersign."

 

Two hoarse whispers delivered the same awful word simultaneously to

the brooding night:

 

"BLOOD!"

 

Then Tom tumbled his ham over the bluff and let himself down after it,

tearing both skin and clothes to some extent in the effort. There was

an easy, comfortable path along the shore under the bluff, but it

lacked the advantages of difficulty and danger so valued by a pirate.

 

The Terror of the Seas had brought a side of bacon, and had about worn

himself out with getting it there. Finn the Red-Handed had stolen a

skillet and a quantity of half-cured leaf tobacco, and had also brought

a few corn-cobs to make pipes with. But none of the pirates smoked or

"chewed" but himself. The Black Avenger of the Spanish Main said it

would never do to start without some fire. That was a wise thought;

matches were hardly known there in that day. They saw a fire

smouldering upon a great raft a hundred yards above, and they went

stealthily thither and helped themselves to a chunk. They made an

imposing adventure of it, saying, "Hist!" every now and then, and

suddenly halting with finger on lip; moving with hands on imaginary

dagger-hilts; and giving orders in dismal whispers that if "the foe"

stirred, to "let him have it to the hilt," because "dead men tell no

tales." They knew well enough that the raftsmen were all down at the

village laying in stores or having a spree, but still that was no

excuse for their conducting this thing in an unpiratical way.

 

They shoved off, presently, Tom in command, Huck at the after oar and

Joe at the forward. Tom stood amidships, gloomy-browed, and with folded

arms, and gave his orders in a low, stern whisper:

 

"Luff, and bring her to the wind!"

 

"Aye-aye, sir!"

 

"Steady, steady-y-y-y!"

 

"Steady it is, sir!"

 

"Let her go off a point!"

 

"Point it is, sir!"

 

As the boys steadily and monotonously drove the raft toward mid-stream

it was no doubt understood that these orders were given only for

"style," and were not intended to mean anything in particular.

 

"What sail's she carrying?"

 

"Courses, tops'ls, and flying-jib, sir."

 

"Send the r'yals up! Lay out aloft, there, half a dozen of ye

--foretopmaststuns'l! Lively, now!"

 

"Aye-aye, sir!"

 

"Shake out that maintogalans'l! Sheets and braces! NOW my hearties!"

 

"Aye-aye, sir!"

 

"Hellum-a-lee--hard a port! Stand by to meet her when she comes! Port,

port! NOW, men! With a will! Stead-y-y-y!"

 

"Steady it is, sir!"

 

The raft drew beyond the middle of the river; the boys pointed her

head right, and then lay on their oars. The river was not high, so

there was not more than a two or three mile current. Hardly a word was

said during the next three-quarters of an hour. Now the raft was

passing before the distant town. Two or three glimmering lights showed

where it lay, peacefully sleeping, beyond the vague vast sweep of

star-gemmed water, unconscious of the tremendous event that was happening.

The Black Avenger stood still with folded arms, "looking his last" upon

the scene of his former joys and his later sufferings, and wishing

"she" could see him now, abroad on the wild sea, facing peril and death

with dauntless heart, going to his doom with a grim smile on his lips.

It was but a small strain on his imagination to remove Jackson's Island

beyond eyeshot of the village, and so he "looked his last" with a

broken and satisfied heart. The other pirates were looking their last,

too; and they all looked so long that they came near letting the

current drift them out of the range of the island. But they discovered

the danger in time, and made shift to avert it. About two o'clock in

the morning the raft grounded on the bar two hundred yards above the

head of the island, and they waded back and forth until they had landed

their freight. Part of the little raft's belongings consisted of an old

sail, and this they spread over a nook in the bushes for a tent to

shelter their provisions; but they themselves would sleep in the open

air in good weather, as became outlaws.

 

They built a fire against the side of a great log twenty or thirty

steps within the sombre depths of the forest, and then cooked some

bacon in the frying-pan for supper, and used up half of the corn "pone"

stock they had brought. It seemed glorious sport to be feasting in that

wild, free way in the virgin forest of an unexplored and uninhabited

island, far from the haunts of men, and they said they never would

return to civilization. The climbing fire lit up their faces and threw

its ruddy glare upon the pillared tree-trunks of their forest temple,

and upon the varnished foliage and festooning vines.

 

When the last crisp slice of bacon was gone, and the last allowance of

corn pone devoured, the boys stretched themselves out on the grass,

filled with contentment. They could have found a cooler place, but they

would not deny themselves such a romantic feature as the roasting

camp-fire.

 

"AIN'T it gay?" said Joe.

 

"It's NUTS!" said Tom. "What would the boys say if they could see us?"

 

"Say? Well, they'd just die to be here--hey, Hucky!"

 

"I reckon so," said Huckleberry; "anyways, I'm suited. I don't want

nothing better'n this. I don't ever get enough to eat, gen'ally--and

here they can't come and pick at a feller and bullyrag him so."

 

"It's just the life for me," said Tom. "You don't have to get up,

mornings, and you don't have to go to school, and wash, and all that

blame foolishness. You see a pirate don't have to do ANYTHING, Joe,

when he's ashore, but a hermit HE has to be praying considerable, and

then he don't have any fun, anyway, all by himself that way."

 

"Oh yes, that's so," said Joe, "but I hadn't thought much about it,

you know. I'd a good deal rather be a pirate, now that I've tried it."

 

"You see," said Tom, "people don't go much on hermits, nowadays, like

they used to in old times, but a pirate's always respected. And a

hermit's got to sleep on the hardest place he can find, and put

sackcloth and ashes on his head, and stand out in the rain, and--"

 

"What does he put sackcloth and ashes on his head for?" inquired Huck.

 

"I dono. But they've GOT to do it. Hermits always do. You'd have to do

that if you was a hermit."

 

"Dern'd if I would," said Huck.

 

"Well, what would you do?"

 

"I dono. But I wouldn't do that."

 

"Why, Huck, you'd HAVE to. How'd you get around it?"

 

"Why, I just wouldn't stand it. I'd run away."

 

"Run away! Well, you WOULD be a nice old slouch of a hermit. You'd be

a disgrace."

 

The Red-Handed made no response, being better employed. He had

finished gouging out a cob, and now he fitted a weed stem to it, loaded

it with tobacco, and was pressing a coal to the charge and blowing a

cloud of fragrant smoke--he was in the full bloom of luxurious

contentment. The other pirates envied him this majestic vice, and

secretly resolved to acquire it shortly. Presently Huck said:

 

"What does pirates have to do?"

 

Tom said:

 

"Oh, they have just a bully time--take ships and burn them, and get

the money and bury it in awful places in their island where there's

ghosts and things to watch it, and kill everybody in the ships--make

'em walk a plank."

 

"And they carry the women to the island," said Joe; "they don't kill

the women."

 

"No," assented Tom, "they don't kill the women--they're too noble. And

the women's always beautiful, too.

 

"And don't they wear the bulliest clothes! Oh no! All gold and silver

and di'monds," said Joe, with enthusiasm.

 

"Who?" said Huck.

 

"Why, the pirates."

 

Huck scanned his own clothing forlornly.

 

"I reckon I ain't dressed fitten for a pirate," said he, with a

regretful pathos in his voice; "but I ain't got none but these."

 

But the other boys told him the fine clothes would come fast enough,

after they should have begun their adventures. They made him understand

that his poor rags would do to begin with, though it was customary for

wealthy pirates to start with a proper wardrobe.

 

Gradually their talk died out and drowsiness began to steal upon the

eyelids of the little waifs. The pipe dropped from the fingers of the

Red-Handed, and he slept the sleep of the conscience-free and the

weary. The Terror of the Seas and the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main

had more difficulty in getting to sleep. They said their prayers

inwardly, and lying down, since there was nobody there with authority

to make them kneel and recite aloud; in truth, they had a mind not to

say them at all, but they were afraid to proceed to such lengths as

that, lest they might call down a sudden and special thunderbolt from

heaven. Then at once they reached and hovered upon the imminent verge

of sleep--but an intruder came, now, that would not "down." It was

conscience. They began to feel a vague fear that they had been doing

wrong to run away; and next they thought of the stolen meat, and then

the real torture came. They tried to argue it away by reminding

conscience that they had purloined sweetmeats and apples scores of

times; but conscience was not to be appeased by such thin

plausibilities; it seemed to them, in the end, that there was no

getting around the stubborn fact that taking sweetmeats was only

"hooking," while taking bacon and hams and such valuables was plain

simple stealing--and there was a command against that in the Bible. So

they inwardly resolved that so long as they remained in the business,

their piracies should not again be sullied with the crime of stealing.

Then conscience granted a truce, and these curiously inconsistent

pirates fell peacefully to sleep.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XIV

 

WHEN Tom awoke in the morning, he wondered where he was. He sat up and

rubbed his eyes and looked around. Then he comprehended. It was the

cool gray dawn, and there was a delicious sense of repose and peace in

the deep pervading calm and silence of the woods. Not a leaf stirred;

not a sound obtruded upon great Nature's meditation. Beaded dewdrops

stood upon the leaves and grasses. A white layer of ashes covered the

fire, and a thin blue breath of smoke rose straight into the air. Joe

and Huck still slept.

 

Now, far away in the woods a bird called; another answered; presently

the hammering of a woodpecker was heard. Gradually the cool dim gray of

the morning whitened, and as gradually sounds multiplied and life

manifested itself. The marvel of Nature shaking off sleep and going to

work unfolded itself to the musing boy. A little green worm came

crawling over a dewy leaf, lifting two-thirds of his body into the air

from time to time and "sniffing around," then proceeding again--for he

was measuring, Tom said; and when the worm approached him, of its own

accord, he sat as still as a stone, with his hopes rising and falling,

by turns, as the creature still came toward him or seemed inclined to

go elsewhere; and when at last it considered a painful moment with its

curved body in the air and then came decisively down upon Tom's leg and

began a journey over him, his whole heart was glad--for that meant that

he was going to have a new suit of clothes--without the shadow of a

doubt a gaudy piratical uniform. Now a procession of ants appeared,

from nowhere in particular, and went about their labors; one struggled

manfully by with a dead spider five times as big as itself in its arms,

and lugged it straight up a tree-trunk. A brown spotted lady-bug

climbed the dizzy height of a grass blade, and Tom bent down close to

it and said, "Lady-bug, lady-bug, fly away home, your house is on fire,

your children's alone," and she took wing and went off to see about it

--which did not surprise the boy, for he knew of old that this insect was

credulous about conflagrations, and he had practised upon its

simplicity more than once. A tumblebug came next, heaving sturdily at

its ball, and Tom touched the creature, to see it shut its legs against

its body and pretend to be dead. The birds were fairly rioting by this

time. A catbird, the Northern mocker, lit in a tree over Tom's head,

and trilled out her imitations of her neighbors in a rapture of

enjoyment; then a shrill jay swept down, a flash of blue flame, and

stopped on a twig almost within the boy's reach, cocked his head to one

side and eyed the strangers with a consuming curiosity; a gray squirrel

and a big fellow of the "fox" kind came skurrying along, sitting up at

intervals to inspect and chatter at the boys, for the wild things had

probably never seen a human being before and scarcely knew whether to

be afraid or not. All Nature was wide awake and stirring, now; long

lances of sunlight pierced down through the dense foliage far and near,

and a few butterflies came fluttering upon the scene.

 

Tom stirred up the other pirates and they all clattered away with a

shout, and in a minute or two were stripped and chasing after and

tumbling over each other in the shallow limpid water of the white

sandbar. They felt no longing for the little village sleeping in the

distance beyond the majestic waste of water. A vagrant current or a

slight rise in the river had carried off their raft, but this only

gratified them, since its going was something like burning the bridge

between them and civilization.

 

They came back to camp wonderfully refreshed, glad-hearted, and

ravenous; and they soon had the camp-fire blazing up again. Huck found

a spring of clear cold water close by, and the boys made cups of broad

oak or hickory leaves, and felt that water, sweetened with such a

wildwood charm as that, would be a good enough substitute for coffee.

While Joe was slicing bacon for breakfast, Tom and Huck asked him to

hold on a minute; they stepped to a promising nook in the river-bank

and threw in their lines; almost immediately they had reward. Joe had

not had time to get impatient before they were back again with some

handsome bass, a couple of sun-perch and a small catfish--provisions

enough for quite a family. They fried the fish with the bacon, and were

astonished; for no fish had ever seemed so delicious before. They did

not know that the quicker a fresh-water fish is on the fire after he is

caught the better he is; and they reflected little upon what a sauce

open-air sleeping, open-air exercise, bathing, and a large ingredient

of hunger make, too.

 

They lay around in the shade, after breakfast, while Huck had a smoke,

and then went off through the woods on an exploring expedition. They

tramped gayly along, over decaying logs, through tangled underbrush,

among solemn monarchs of the forest, hung from their crowns to the

ground with a drooping regalia of grape-vines. Now and then they came

upon snug nooks carpeted with grass and jeweled with flowers.

 

They found plenty of things to be delighted with, but nothing to be

astonished at. They discovered that the island was about three miles

long and a quarter of a mile wide, and that the shore it lay closest to

was only separated from it by a narrow channel hardly two hundred yards

wide. They took a swim about every hour, so it was close upon the

middle of the afternoon when they got back to camp. They were too

hungry to stop to fish, but they fared sumptuously upon cold ham, and

then threw themselves down in the shade to talk. But the talk soon

began to drag, and then died. The stillness, the solemnity that brooded

in the woods, and the sense of loneliness, began to tell upon the

spirits of the boys. They fell to thinking. A sort of undefined longing

crept upon them. This took dim shape, presently--it was budding

homesickness. Even Finn the Red-Handed was dreaming of his doorsteps

and empty hogsheads. But they were all ashamed of their weakness, and

none was brave enough to speak his thought.

 

For some time, now, the boys had been dully conscious of a peculiar

sound in the distance, just as one sometimes is of the ticking of a

clock which he takes no distinct note of. But now this mysterious sound

became more pronounced, and forced a recognition. The boys started,

glanced at each other, and then each assumed a listening attitude.

There was a long silence, profound and unbroken; then a deep, sullen

boom came floating down out of the distance.

 

"What is it!" exclaimed Joe, under his breath.

 

"I wonder," said Tom in a whisper.

 

"'Tain't thunder," said Huckleberry, in an awed tone, "becuz thunder--"

 

"Hark!" said Tom. "Listen--don't talk."

 

They waited a time that seemed an age, and then the same muffled boom

troubled the solemn hush.

 

"Let's go and see."

 

They sprang to their feet and hurried to the shore toward the town.

They parted the bushes on the bank and peered out over the water. The

little steam ferryboat was about a mile below the village, drifting

with the current. Her broad deck seemed crowded with people. There were

a great many skiffs rowing about or floating with the stream in the

neighborhood of the ferryboat, but the boys could not determine what

the men in them were doing. Presently a great jet of white smoke burst

from the ferryboat's side, and as it expanded and rose in a lazy cloud,

that same dull throb of sound was borne to the listeners again.

 

"I know now!" exclaimed Tom; "somebody's drownded!"

 

"That's it!" said Huck; "they done that last summer, when Bill Turner

got drownded; they shoot a cannon over the water, and that makes him

come up to the top. Yes, and they take loaves of bread and put

quicksilver in 'em and set 'em afloat, and wherever there's anybody

that's drownded, they'll float right there and stop."

 

"Yes, I've heard about that," said Joe. "I wonder what makes the bread

do that."

 

"Oh, it ain't the bread, so much," said Tom; "I reckon it's mostly

what they SAY over it before they start it out."

 

"But they don't say anything over it," said Huck. "I've seen 'em and

they don't."

 

"Well, that's funny," said Tom. "But maybe they say it to themselves.

Of COURSE they do. Anybody might know that."

 

The other boys agreed that there was reason in what Tom said, because

an ignorant lump of bread, uninstructed by an incantation, could not be

expected to act very intelligently when set upon an errand of such

gravity.

 

"By jings, I wish I was over there, now," said Joe.

 

"I do too" said Huck "I'd give heaps to know who it is."

 

The boys still listened and watched. Presently a revealing thought

flashed through Tom's mind, and he exclaimed:

 

"Boys, I know who's drownded--it's us!"

 

They felt like heroes in an instant. Here was a gorgeous triumph; they

were missed; they were mourned; hearts were breaking on their account;

tears were being shed; accusing memories of unkindness to these poor

lost lads were rising up, and unavailing regrets and remorse were being

indulged; and best of all, the departed were the talk of the whole

town, and the envy of all the boys, as far as this dazzling notoriety

was concerned. This was fine. It was worth while to be a pirate, after

all.

 

As twilight drew on, the ferryboat went back to her accustomed

business and the skiffs disappeared. The pirates returned to camp. They

were jubilant with vanity over their new grandeur and the illustrious

trouble they were making. They caught fish, cooked supper and ate it,

and then fell to guessing at what the village was thinking and saying

about them; and the pictures they drew of the public distress on their

account were gratifying to look upon--from their point of view. But

when the shadows of night closed them in, they gradually ceased to

talk, and sat gazing into the fire, with their minds evidently

wandering elsewhere. The excitement was gone, now, and Tom and Joe

could not keep back thoughts of certain persons at home who were not

enjoying this fine frolic as much as they were. Misgivings came; they

grew troubled and unhappy; a sigh or two escaped, unawares. By and by

Joe timidly ventured upon a roundabout "feeler" as to how the others

might look upon a return to civilization--not right now, but--

 

Tom withered him with derision! Huck, being uncommitted as yet, joined

in with Tom, and the waverer quickly "explained," and was glad to get

out of the scrape with as little taint of chicken-hearted homesickness

clinging to his garments as he could. Mutiny was effectually laid to

rest for the moment.

 

As the night deepened, Huck began to nod, and presently to snore. Joe

followed next. Tom lay upon his elbow motionless, for some time,

watching the two intently. At last he got up cautiously, on his knees,

and went searching among the grass and the flickering reflections flung

by the camp-fire. He picked up and inspected several large

semi-cylinders of the thin white bark of a sycamore, and finally chose

two which seemed to suit him. Then he knelt by the fire and painfully

wrote something upon each of these with his "red keel"; one he rolled up

and put in his jacket pocket, and the other he put in Joe's hat and

removed it to a little distance from the owner. And he also put into the

hat certain schoolboy treasures of almost inestimable value--among them

a lump of chalk, an India-rubber ball, three fishhooks, and one of that

kind of marbles known as a "sure 'nough crystal." Then he tiptoed his

way cautiously among the trees till he felt that he was out of hearing,

and straightway broke into a keen run in the direction of the sandbar.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XV

 

A FEW minutes later Tom was in the shoal water of the bar, wading

toward the Illinois shore. Before the depth reached his middle he was

half-way over; the current would permit no more wading, now, so he

struck out confidently to swim the remaining hundred yards. He swam

quartering upstream, but still was swept downward rather faster than he

had expected. However, he reached the shore finally, and drifted along

till he found a low place and drew himself out. He put his hand on his

jacket pocket, found his piece of bark safe, and then struck through

the woods, following the shore, with streaming garments. Shortly before

ten o'clock he came out into an open place opposite the village, and

saw the ferryboat lying in the shadow of the trees and the high bank.

Everything was quiet under the blinking stars. He crept down the bank,

watching with all his eyes, slipped into the water, swam three or four

strokes and climbed into the skiff that did "yawl" duty at the boat's

stern. He laid himself down under the thwarts and waited, panting.

 

Presently the cracked bell tapped and a voice gave the order to "cast

off." A minute or two later the skiff's head was standing high up,

against the boat's swell, and the voyage was begun. Tom felt happy in

his success, for he knew it was the boat's last trip for the night. At

the end of a long twelve or fifteen minutes the wheels stopped, and Tom

slipped overboard and swam ashore in the dusk, landing fifty yards

downstream, out of danger of possible stragglers.

 

He flew along unfrequented alleys, and shortly found himself at his

aunt's back fence. He climbed over, approached the "ell," and looked in

at the sitting-room window, for a light was burning there. There sat

Aunt Polly, Sid, Mary, and Joe Harper's mother, grouped together,

talking. They were by the bed, and the bed was between them and the

door. Tom went to the door and began to softly lift the latch; then he

pressed gently and the door yielded a crack; he continued pushing

cautiously, and quaking every time it creaked, till he judged he might

squeeze through on his knees; so he put his head through and began,

warily.

 

"What makes the candle blow so?" said Aunt Polly. Tom hurried up.

"Why, that door's open, I believe. Why, of course it is. No end of

strange things now. Go 'long and shut it, Sid."

 

Tom disappeared under the bed just in time. He lay and "breathed"

himself for a time, and then crept to where he could almost touch his

aunt's foot.

 

"But as I was saying," said Aunt Polly, "he warn't BAD, so to say

--only mischEEvous. Only just giddy, and harum-scarum, you know. He

warn't any more responsible than a colt. HE never meant any harm, and

he was the best-hearted boy that ever was"--and she began to cry.

 

"It was just so with my Joe--always full of his devilment, and up to

every kind of mischief, but he was just as unselfish and kind as he

could be--and laws bless me, to think I went and whipped him for taking

that cream, never once recollecting that I throwed it out myself

because it was sour, and I never to see him again in this world, never,

never, never, poor abused boy!" And Mrs. Harper sobbed as if her heart

would break.

 

"I hope Tom's better off where he is," said Sid, "but if he'd been

better in some ways--"

 

"SID!" Tom felt the glare of the old lady's eye, though he could not

see it. "Not a word against my Tom, now that he's gone! God'll take

care of HIM--never you trouble YOURself, sir! Oh, Mrs. Harper, I don't

know how to give him up! I don't know how to give him up! He was such a

comfort to me, although he tormented my old heart out of me, 'most."

 

"The Lord giveth and the Lord hath taken away--Blessed be the name of

the Lord! But it's so hard--Oh, it's so hard! Only last Saturday my

Joe busted a firecracker right under my nose and I knocked him

sprawling. Little did I know then, how soon--Oh, if it was to do over

again I'd hug him and bless him for it."

 

"Yes, yes, yes, I know just how you feel, Mrs. Harper, I know just

exactly how you feel. No longer ago than yesterday noon, my Tom took

and filled the cat full of Pain-killer, and I did think the cretur

would tear the house down. And God forgive me, I cracked Tom's head

with my thimble, poor boy, poor dead boy. But he's out of all his

troubles now. And the last words I ever heard him say was to reproach--"

 

But this memory was too much for the old lady, and she broke entirely

down. Tom was snuffling, now, himself--and more in pity of himself than

anybody else. He could hear Mary crying, and putting in a kindly word

for him from time to time. He began to have a nobler opinion of himself

than ever before. Still, he was sufficiently touched by his aunt's

grief to long to rush out from under the bed and overwhelm her with

joy--and the theatrical gorgeousness of the thing appealed strongly to

his nature, too, but he resisted and lay still.

 

He went on listening, and gathered by odds and ends that it was

conjectured at first that the boys had got drowned while taking a swim;

then the small raft had been missed; next, certain boys said the

missing lads had promised that the village should "hear something"

soon; the wise-heads had "put this and that together" and decided that

the lads had gone off on that raft and would turn up at the next town

below, presently; but toward noon the raft had been found, lodged

against the Missouri shore some five or six miles below the village

--and then hope perished; they must be drowned, else hunger would have

driven them home by nightfall if not sooner. It was believed that the

search for the bodies had been a fruitless effort merely because the

drowning must have occurred in mid-channel, since the boys, being good

swimmers, would otherwise have escaped to shore. This was Wednesday

night. If the bodies continued missing until Sunday, all hope would be

given over, and the funerals would be preached on that morning. Tom

shuddered.

 

Mrs. Harper gave a sobbing good-night and turned to go. Then with a

mutual impulse the two bereaved women flung themselves into each

other's arms and had a good, consoling cry, and then parted. Aunt Polly

was tender far beyond her wont, in her good-night to Sid and Mary. Sid

snuffled a bit and Mary went off crying with all her heart.

 

Aunt Polly knelt down and prayed for Tom so touchingly, so

appealingly, and with such measureless love in her words and her old

trembling voice, that he was weltering in tears again, long before she

was through.

 

He had to keep still long after she went to bed, for she kept making

broken-hearted ejaculations from time to time, tossing unrestfully, and

turning over. But at last she was still, only moaning a little in her

sleep. Now the boy stole out, rose gradually by the bedside, shaded the

candle-light with his hand, and stood regarding her. His heart was full

of pity for her. He took out his sycamore scroll and placed it by the

candle. But something occurred to him, and he lingered considering. His

face lighted with a happy solution of his thought; he put the bark

hastily in his pocket. Then he bent over and kissed the faded lips, and

straightway made his stealthy exit, latching the door behind him.

 

He threaded his way back to the ferry landing, found nobody at large

there, and walked boldly on board the boat, for he knew she was

tenantless except that there was a watchman, who always turned in and

slept like a graven image. He untied the skiff at the stern, slipped

into it, and was soon rowing cautiously upstream. When he had pulled a

mile above the village, he started quartering across and bent himself

stoutly to his work. He hit the landing on the other side neatly, for

this was a familiar bit of work to him. He was moved to capture the

skiff, arguing that it might be considered a ship and therefore

legitimate prey for a pirate, but he knew a thorough search would be

made for it and that might end in revelations. So he stepped ashore and

entered the woods.

 

He sat down and took a long rest, torturing himself meanwhile to keep

awake, and then started warily down the home-stretch. The night was far

spent. It was broad daylight before he found himself fairly abreast the

island bar. He rested again until the sun was well up and gilding the

great river with its splendor, and then he plunged into the stream. A

little later he paused, dripping, upon the threshold of the camp, and

heard Joe say:

 

"No, Tom's true-blue, Huck, and he'll come back. He won't desert. He

knows that would be a disgrace to a pirate, and Tom's too proud for

that sort of thing. He's up to something or other. Now I wonder what?"

 

"Well, the things is ours, anyway, ain't they?"

 

"Pretty near, but not yet, Huck. The writing says they are if he ain't

back here to breakfast."

 

"Which he is!" exclaimed Tom, with fine dramatic effect, stepping

grandly into camp.

 

A sumptuous breakfast of bacon and fish was shortly provided, and as

the boys set to work upon it, Tom recounted (and adorned) his

adventures. They were a vain and boastful company of heroes when the

tale was done. Then Tom hid himself away in a shady nook to sleep till

noon, and the other pirates got ready to fish and explore.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XVI

 

AFTER dinner all the gang turned out to hunt for turtle eggs on the

bar. They went about poking sticks into the sand, and when they found a

soft place they went down on their knees and dug with their hands.

Sometimes they would take fifty or sixty eggs out of one hole. They

were perfectly round white things a trifle smaller than an English

walnut. They had a famous fried-egg feast that night, and another on

Friday morning.

 

After breakfast they went whooping and prancing out on the bar, and

chased each other round and round, shedding clothes as they went, until

they were naked, and then continued the frolic far away up the shoal

water of the bar, against the stiff current, which latter tripped their

legs from under them from time to time and greatly increased the fun.

And now and then they stooped in a group and splashed water in each

other's faces with their palms, gradually approaching each other, with

averted faces to avoid the strangling sprays, and finally gripping and

struggling till the best man ducked his neighbor, and then they all

went under in a tangle of white legs and arms and came up blowing,

sputtering, laughing, and gasping for breath at one and the same time.

 

When they were well exhausted, they would run out and sprawl on the

dry, hot sand, and lie there and cover themselves up with it, and by

and by break for the water again and go through the original

performance once more. Finally it occurred to them that their naked

skin represented flesh-colored "tights" very fairly; so they drew a

ring in the sand and had a circus--with three clowns in it, for none

would yield this proudest post to his neighbor.

 

Next they got their marbles and played "knucks" and "ring-taw" and

"keeps" till that amusement grew stale. Then Joe and Huck had another

swim, but Tom would not venture, because he found that in kicking off

his trousers he had kicked his string of rattlesnake rattles off his

ankle, and he wondered how he had escaped cramp so long without the

protection of this mysterious charm. He did not venture again until he

had found it, and by that time the other boys were tired and ready to

rest. They gradually wandered apart, dropped into the "dumps," and fell

to gazing longingly across the wide river to where the village lay

drowsing in the sun. Tom found himself writing "BECKY" in the sand with

his big toe; he scratched it out, and was angry with himself for his

weakness. But he wrote it again, nevertheless; he could not help it. He

erased it once more and then took himself out of temptation by driving

the other boys together and joining them.

 

But Joe's spirits had gone down almost beyond resurrection. He was so

homesick that he could hardly endure the misery of it. The tears lay

very near the surface. Huck was melancholy, too. Tom was downhearted,

but tried hard not to show it. He had a secret which he was not ready

to tell, yet, but if this mutinous depression was not broken up soon,

he would have to bring it out. He said, with a great show of

cheerfulness:

 

"I bet there's been pirates on this island before, boys. We'll explore

it again. They've hid treasures here somewhere. How'd you feel to light

on a rotten chest full of gold and silver--hey?"

 

But it roused only faint enthusiasm, which faded out, with no reply.

Tom tried one or two other seductions; but they failed, too. It was

discouraging work. Joe sat poking up the sand with a stick and looking

very gloomy. Finally he said:

 

"Oh, boys, let's give it up. I want to go home. It's so lonesome."

 

"Oh no, Joe, you'll feel better by and by," said Tom. "Just think of

the fishing that's here."

 

"I don't care for fishing. I want to go home."

 

"But, Joe, there ain't such another swimming-place anywhere."

 

"Swimming's no good. I don't seem to care for it, somehow, when there

ain't anybody to say I sha'n't go in. I mean to go home."

 

"Oh, shucks! Baby! You want to see your mother, I reckon."

 

"Yes, I DO want to see my mother--and you would, too, if you had one.

I ain't any more baby than you are." And Joe snuffled a little.

 

"Well, we'll let the cry-baby go home to his mother, won't we, Huck?

Poor thing--does it want to see its mother? And so it shall. You like

it here, don't you, Huck? We'll stay, won't we?"

 

Huck said, "Y-e-s"--without any heart in it.

 

"I'll never speak to you again as long as I live," said Joe, rising.

"There now!" And he moved moodily away and began to dress himself.

 

"Who cares!" said Tom. "Nobody wants you to. Go 'long home and get

laughed at. Oh, you're a nice pirate. Huck and me ain't cry-babies.

We'll stay, won't we, Huck? Let him go if he wants to. I reckon we can

get along without him, per'aps."

 

But Tom was uneasy, nevertheless, and was alarmed to see Joe go

sullenly on with his dressing. And then it was discomforting to see

Huck eying Joe's preparations so wistfully, and keeping up such an

ominous silence. Presently, without a parting word, Joe began to wade

off toward the Illinois shore. Tom's heart began to sink. He glanced at

Huck. Huck could not bear the look, and dropped his eyes. Then he said:

 

"I want to go, too, Tom. It was getting so lonesome anyway, and now

it'll be worse. Let's us go, too, Tom."

 

"I won't! You can all go, if you want to. I mean to stay."

 

"Tom, I better go."

 

"Well, go 'long--who's hendering you."

 

Huck began to pick up his scattered clothes. He said:

 

"Tom, I wisht you'd come, too. Now you think it over. We'll wait for

you when we get to shore."

 

"Well, you'll wait a blame long time, that's all."

 

Huck started sorrowfully away, and Tom stood looking after him, with a

strong desire tugging at his heart to yield his pride and go along too.

He hoped the boys would stop, but they still waded slowly on. It

suddenly dawned on Tom that it was become very lonely and still. He

made one final struggle with his pride, and then darted after his

comrades, yelling:

 

"Wait! Wait! I want to tell you something!"

 

They presently stopped and turned around. When he got to where they

were, he began unfolding his secret, and they listened moodily till at

last they saw the "point" he was driving at, and then they set up a

war-whoop of applause and said it was "splendid!" and said if he had

told them at first, they wouldn't have started away. He made a plausible

excuse; but his real reason had been the fear that not even the secret

would keep them with him any very great length of time, and so he had

meant to hold it in reserve as a last seduction.

 

The lads came gayly back and went at their sports again with a will,

chattering all the time about Tom's stupendous plan and admiring the

genius of it. After a dainty egg and fish dinner, Tom said he wanted to

learn to smoke, now. Joe caught at the idea and said he would like to

try, too. So Huck made pipes and filled them. These novices had never

smoked anything before but cigars made of grape-vine, and they "bit"

the tongue, and were not considered manly anyway.

 

Now they stretched themselves out on their elbows and began to puff,

charily, and with slender confidence. The smoke had an unpleasant

taste, and they gagged a little, but Tom said:

 

"Why, it's just as easy! If I'd a knowed this was all, I'd a learnt

long ago."

 

"So would I," said Joe. "It's just nothing."

 

"Why, many a time I've looked at people smoking, and thought well I

wish I could do that; but I never thought I could," said Tom.

 

"That's just the way with me, hain't it, Huck? You've heard me talk

just that way--haven't you, Huck? I'll leave it to Huck if I haven't."

 

"Yes--heaps of times," said Huck.

 

"Well, I have too," said Tom; "oh, hundreds of times. Once down by the

slaughter-house. Don't you remember, Huck? Bob Tanner was there, and

Johnny Miller, and Jeff Thatcher, when I said it. Don't you remember,

Huck, 'bout me saying that?"

 

"Yes, that's so," said Huck. "That was the day after I lost a white

alley. No, 'twas the day before."

 

"There--I told you so," said Tom. "Huck recollects it."

 

"I bleeve I could smoke this pipe all day," said Joe. "I don't feel

sick."

 

"Neither do I," said Tom. "I could smoke it all day. But I bet you

Jeff Thatcher couldn't."

 

"Jeff Thatcher! Why, he'd keel over just with two draws. Just let him

try it once. HE'D see!"

 

"I bet he would. And Johnny Miller--I wish could see Johnny Miller

tackle it once."

 

"Oh, don't I!" said Joe. "Why, I bet you Johnny Miller couldn't any

more do this than nothing. Just one little snifter would fetch HIM."

 

"'Deed it would, Joe. Say--I wish the boys could see us now."

 

"So do I."

 

"Say--boys, don't say anything about it, and some time when they're

around, I'll come up to you and say, 'Joe, got a pipe? I want a smoke.'

And you'll say, kind of careless like, as if it warn't anything, you'll

say, 'Yes, I got my OLD pipe, and another one, but my tobacker ain't

very good.' And I'll say, 'Oh, that's all right, if it's STRONG

enough.' And then you'll out with the pipes, and we'll light up just as

ca'm, and then just see 'em look!"

 

"By jings, that'll be gay, Tom! I wish it was NOW!"

 

"So do I! And when we tell 'em we learned when we was off pirating,

won't they wish they'd been along?"

 

"Oh, I reckon not! I'll just BET they will!"

 

So the talk ran on. But presently it began to flag a trifle, and grow

disjointed. The silences widened; the expectoration marvellously

increased. Every pore inside the boys' cheeks became a spouting

fountain; they could scarcely bail out the cellars under their tongues

fast enough to prevent an inundation; little overflowings down their

throats occurred in spite of all they could do, and sudden retchings

followed every time. Both boys were looking very pale and miserable,

now. Joe's pipe dropped from his nerveless fingers. Tom's followed.

Both fountains were going furiously and both pumps bailing with might

and main. Joe said feebly:

 

"I've lost my knife. I reckon I better go and find it."

 

Tom said, with quivering lips and halting utterance:

 

"I'll help you. You go over that way and I'll hunt around by the

spring. No, you needn't come, Huck--we can find it."

 

So Huck sat down again, and waited an hour. Then he found it lonesome,

and went to find his comrades. They were wide apart in the woods, both

very pale, both fast asleep. But something informed him that if they

had had any trouble they had got rid of it.

 

They were not talkative at supper that night. They had a humble look,

and when Huck prepared his pipe after the meal and was going to prepare

theirs, they said no, they were not feeling very well--something they

ate at dinner had disagreed with them.

 

About midnight Joe awoke, and called the boys. There was a brooding

oppressiveness in the air that seemed to bode something. The boys

huddled themselves together and sought the friendly companionship of

the fire, though the dull dead heat of the breathless atmosphere was

stifling. They sat still, intent and waiting. The solemn hush

continued. Beyond the light of the fire everything was swallowed up in

the blackness of darkness. Presently there came a quivering glow that

vaguely revealed the foliage for a moment and then vanished. By and by

another came, a little stronger. Then another. Then a faint moan came

sighing through the branches of the forest and the boys felt a fleeting

breath upon their cheeks, and shuddered with the fancy that the Spirit

of the Night had gone by. There was a pause. Now a weird flash turned

night into day and showed every little grass-blade, separate and

distinct, that grew about their feet. And it showed three white,

startled faces, too. A deep peal of thunder went rolling and tumbling

down the heavens and lost itself in sullen rumblings in the distance. A

sweep of chilly air passed by, rustling all the leaves and snowing the

flaky ashes broadcast about the fire. Another fierce glare lit up the

forest and an instant crash followed that seemed to rend the tree-tops

right over the boys' heads. They clung together in terror, in the thick

gloom that followed. A few big rain-drops fell pattering upon the

leaves.

 

"Quick! boys, go for the tent!" exclaimed Tom.

 

They sprang away, stumbling over roots and among vines in the dark, no

two plunging in the same direction. A furious blast roared through the

trees, making everything sing as it went. One blinding flash after

another came, and peal on peal of deafening thunder. And now a

drenching rain poured down and the rising hurricane drove it in sheets

along the ground. The boys cried out to each other, but the roaring

wind and the booming thunder-blasts drowned their voices utterly.

However, one by one they straggled in at last and took shelter under

the tent, cold, scared, and streaming with water; but to have company

in misery seemed something to be grateful for. They could not talk, the

old sail flapped so furiously, even if the other noises would have

allowed them. The tempest rose higher and higher, and presently the

sail tore loose from its fastenings and went winging away on the blast.

The boys seized each others' hands and fled, with many tumblings and

bruises, to the shelter of a great oak that stood upon the river-bank.

Now the battle was at its highest. Under the ceaseless conflagration of

lightning that flamed in the skies, everything below stood out in

clean-cut and shadowless distinctness: the bending trees, the billowy

river, white with foam, the driving spray of spume-flakes, the dim

outlines of the high bluffs on the other side, glimpsed through the

drifting cloud-rack and the slanting veil of rain. Every little while

some giant tree yielded the fight and fell crashing through the younger

growth; and the unflagging thunder-peals came now in ear-splitting

explosive bursts, keen and sharp, and unspeakably appalling. The storm

culminated in one matchless effort that seemed likely to tear the island

to pieces, burn it up, drown it to the tree-tops, blow it away, and

deafen every creature in it, all at one and the same moment. It was a

wild night for homeless young heads to be out in.

 

But at last the battle was done, and the forces retired with weaker

and weaker threatenings and grumblings, and peace resumed her sway. The

boys went back to camp, a good deal awed; but they found there was

still something to be thankful for, because the great sycamore, the

shelter of their beds, was a ruin, now, blasted by the lightnings, and

they were not under it when the catastrophe happened.

 

Everything in camp was drenched, the camp-fire as well; for they were

but heedless lads, like their generation, and had made no provision

against rain. Here was matter for dismay, for they were soaked through

and chilled. They were eloquent in their distress; but they presently

discovered that the fire had eaten so far up under the great log it had

been built against (where it curved upward and separated itself from

the ground), that a handbreadth or so of it had escaped wetting; so

they patiently wrought until, with shreds and bark gathered from the

under sides of sheltered logs, they coaxed the fire to burn again. Then

they piled on great dead boughs till they had a roaring furnace, and

were glad-hearted once more. They dried their boiled ham and had a

feast, and after that they sat by the fire and expanded and glorified

their midnight adventure until morning, for there was not a dry spot to

sleep on, anywhere around.

 

As the sun began to steal in upon the boys, drowsiness came over them,

and they went out on the sandbar and lay down to sleep. They got

scorched out by and by, and drearily set about getting breakfast. After

the meal they felt rusty, and stiff-jointed, and a little homesick once

more. Tom saw the signs, and fell to cheering up the pirates as well as

he could. But they cared nothing for marbles, or circus, or swimming,

or anything. He reminded them of the imposing secret, and raised a ray

of cheer. While it lasted, he got them interested in a new device. This

was to knock off being pirates, for a while, and be Indians for a

change. They were attracted by this idea; so it was not long before

they were stripped, and striped from head to heel with black mud, like

so many zebras--all of them chiefs, of course--and then they went

tearing through the woods to attack an English settlement.

 

By and by they separated into three hostile tribes, and darted upon

each other from ambush with dreadful war-whoops, and killed and scalped

each other by thousands. It was a gory day. Consequently it was an

extremely satisfactory one.

 

They assembled in camp toward supper-time, hungry and happy; but now a

difficulty arose--hostile Indians could not break the bread of

hospitality together without first making peace, and this was a simple

impossibility without smoking a pipe of peace. There was no other

process that ever they had heard of. Two of the savages almost wished

they had remained pirates. However, there was no other way; so with

such show of cheerfulness as they could muster they called for the pipe

and took their whiff as it passed, in due form.

 

And behold, they were glad they had gone into savagery, for they had

gained something; they found that they could now smoke a little without

having to go and hunt for a lost knife; they did not get sick enough to

be seriously uncomfortable. They were not likely to fool away this high

promise for lack of effort. No, they practised cautiously, after

supper, with right fair success, and so they spent a jubilant evening.

They were prouder and happier in their new acquirement than they would

have been in the scalping and skinning of the Six Nations. We will

leave them to smoke and chatter and brag, since we have no further use

for them at present.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XVII

 

BUT there was no hilarity in the little town that same tranquil

Saturday afternoon. The Harpers, and Aunt Polly's family, were being

put into mourning, with great grief and many tears. An unusual quiet

possessed the village, although it was ordinarily quiet enough, in all

conscience. The villagers conducted their concerns with an absent air,

and talked little; but they sighed often. The Saturday holiday seemed a

burden to the children. They had no heart in their sports, and

gradually gave them up.

 

In the afternoon Becky Thatcher found herself moping about the

deserted schoolhouse yard, and feeling very melancholy. But she found

nothing there to comfort her. She soliloquized:

 

"Oh, if I only had a brass andiron-knob again! But I haven't got

anything now to remember him by." And she choked back a little sob.

 

Presently she stopped, and said to herself:

 

"It was right here. Oh, if it was to do over again, I wouldn't say

that--I wouldn't say it for the whole world. But he's gone now; I'll

never, never, never see him any more."

 

This thought broke her down, and she wandered away, with tears rolling

down her cheeks. Then quite a group of boys and girls--playmates of

Tom's and Joe's--came by, and stood looking over the paling fence and

talking in reverent tones of how Tom did so-and-so the last time they

saw him, and how Joe said this and that small trifle (pregnant with

awful prophecy, as they could easily see now!)--and each speaker

pointed out the exact spot where the lost lads stood at the time, and

then added something like "and I was a-standing just so--just as I am

now, and as if you was him--I was as close as that--and he smiled, just

this way--and then something seemed to go all over me, like--awful, you

know--and I never thought what it meant, of course, but I can see now!"

 

Then there was a dispute about who saw the dead boys last in life, and

many claimed that dismal distinction, and offered evidences, more or

less tampered with by the witness; and when it was ultimately decided

who DID see the departed last, and exchanged the last words with them,

the lucky parties took upon themselves a sort of sacred importance, and

were gaped at and envied by all the rest. One poor chap, who had no

other grandeur to offer, said with tolerably manifest pride in the

remembrance:

 

"Well, Tom Sawyer he licked me once."

 

But that bid for glory was a failure. Most of the boys could say that,

and so that cheapened the distinction too much. The group loitered

away, still recalling memories of the lost heroes, in awed voices.

 

When the Sunday-school hour was finished, the next morning, the bell

began to toll, instead of ringing in the usual way. It was a very still

Sabbath, and the mournful sound seemed in keeping with the musing hush

that lay upon nature. The villagers began to gather, loitering a moment

in the vestibule to converse in whispers about the sad event. But there

was no whispering in the house; only the funereal rustling of dresses

as the women gathered to their seats disturbed the silence there. None

could remember when the little church had been so full before. There

was finally a waiting pause, an expectant dumbness, and then Aunt Polly

entered, followed by Sid and Mary, and they by the Harper family, all

in deep black, and the whole congregation, the old minister as well,

rose reverently and stood until the mourners were seated in the front

pew. There was another communing silence, broken at intervals by

muffled sobs, and then the minister spread his hands abroad and prayed.

A moving hymn was sung, and the text followed: "I am the Resurrection

and the Life."

 

As the service proceeded, the clergyman drew such pictures of the

graces, the winning ways, and the rare promise of the lost lads that

every soul there, thinking he recognized these pictures, felt a pang in

remembering that he had persistently blinded himself to them always

before, and had as persistently seen only faults and flaws in the poor

boys. The minister related many a touching incident in the lives of the

departed, too, which illustrated their sweet, generous natures, and the

people could easily see, now, how noble and beautiful those episodes

were, and remembered with grief that at the time they occurred they had

seemed rank rascalities, well deserving of the cowhide. The

congregation became more and more moved, as the pathetic tale went on,

till at last the whole company broke down and joined the weeping

mourners in a chorus of anguished sobs, the preacher himself giving way

to his feelings, and crying in the pulpit.

 

There was a rustle in the gallery, which nobody noticed; a moment

later the church door creaked; the minister raised his streaming eyes

above his handkerchief, and stood transfixed! First one and then

another pair of eyes followed the minister's, and then almost with one

impulse the congregation rose and stared while the three dead boys came

marching up the aisle, Tom in the lead, Joe next, and Huck, a ruin of

drooping rags, sneaking sheepishly in the rear! They had been hid in

the unused gallery listening to their own funeral sermon!

 

Aunt Polly, Mary, and the Harpers threw themselves upon their restored

ones, smothered them with kisses and poured out thanksgivings, while

poor Huck stood abashed and uncomfortable, not knowing exactly what to

do or where to hide from so many unwelcoming eyes. He wavered, and

started to slink away, but Tom seized him and said:

 

"Aunt Polly, it ain't fair. Somebody's got to be glad to see Huck."

 

"And so they shall. I'm glad to see him, poor motherless thing!" And

the loving attentions Aunt Polly lavished upon him were the one thing

capable of making him more uncomfortable than he was before.

 

Suddenly the minister shouted at the top of his voice: "Praise God

from whom all blessings flow--SING!--and put your hearts in it!"

 

And they did. Old Hundred swelled up with a triumphant burst, and

while it shook the rafters Tom Sawyer the Pirate looked around upon the

envying juveniles about him and confessed in his heart that this was

the proudest moment of his life.

 

As the "sold" congregation trooped out they said they would almost be

willing to be made ridiculous again to hear Old Hundred sung like that

once more.

 

Tom got more cuffs and kisses that day--according to Aunt Polly's

varying moods--than he had earned before in a year; and he hardly knew

which expressed the most gratefulness to God and affection for himself.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XVIII

 

THAT was Tom's great secret--the scheme to return home with his

brother pirates and attend their own funerals. They had paddled over to

the Missouri shore on a log, at dusk on Saturday, landing five or six

miles below the village; they had slept in the woods at the edge of the

town till nearly daylight, and had then crept through back lanes and

alleys and finished their sleep in the gallery of the church among a

chaos of invalided benches.

 

At breakfast, Monday morning, Aunt Polly and Mary were very loving to

Tom, and very attentive to his wants. There was an unusual amount of

talk. In the course of it Aunt Polly said:

 

"Well, I don't say it wasn't a fine joke, Tom, to keep everybody

suffering 'most a week so you boys had a good time, but it is a pity

you could be so hard-hearted as to let me suffer so. If you could come

over on a log to go to your funeral, you could have come over and give

me a hint some way that you warn't dead, but only run off."

 

"Yes, you could have done that, Tom," said Mary; "and I believe you

would if you had thought of it."

 

"Would you, Tom?" said Aunt Polly, her face lighting wistfully. "Say,

now, would you, if you'd thought of it?"

 

"I--well, I don't know. 'Twould 'a' spoiled everything."

 

"Tom, I hoped you loved me that much," said Aunt Polly, with a grieved

tone that discomforted the boy. "It would have been something if you'd

cared enough to THINK of it, even if you didn't DO it."

 

"Now, auntie, that ain't any harm," pleaded Mary; "it's only Tom's

giddy way--he is always in such a rush that he never thinks of

anything."

 

"More's the pity. Sid would have thought. And Sid would have come and

DONE it, too. Tom, you'll look back, some day, when it's too late, and

wish you'd cared a little more for me when it would have cost you so

little."

 

"Now, auntie, you know I do care for you," said Tom.

 

"I'd know it better if you acted more like it."

 

"I wish now I'd thought," said Tom, with a repentant tone; "but I

dreamt about you, anyway. That's something, ain't it?"

 

"It ain't much--a cat does that much--but it's better than nothing.

What did you dream?"

 

"Why, Wednesday night I dreamt that you was sitting over there by the

bed, and Sid was sitting by the woodbox, and Mary next to him."

 

"Well, so we did. So we always do. I'm glad your dreams could take

even that much trouble about us."

 

"And I dreamt that Joe Harper's mother was here."

 

"Why, she was here! Did you dream any more?"

 

"Oh, lots. But it's so dim, now."

 

"Well, try to recollect--can't you?"

 

"Somehow it seems to me that the wind--the wind blowed the--the--"

 

"Try harder, Tom! The wind did blow something. Come!"

 

Tom pressed his fingers on his forehead an anxious minute, and then

said:

 

"I've got it now! I've got it now! It blowed the candle!"

 

"Mercy on us! Go on, Tom--go on!"

 

"And it seems to me that you said, 'Why, I believe that that door--'"

 

"Go ON, Tom!"

 

"Just let me study a moment--just a moment. Oh, yes--you said you

believed the door was open."

 

"As I'm sitting here, I did! Didn't I, Mary! Go on!"

 

"And then--and then--well I won't be certain, but it seems like as if

you made Sid go and--and--"

 

"Well? Well? What did I make him do, Tom? What did I make him do?"

 

"You made him--you--Oh, you made him shut it."

 

"Well, for the land's sake! I never heard the beat of that in all my

days! Don't tell ME there ain't anything in dreams, any more. Sereny

Harper shall know of this before I'm an hour older. I'd like to see her

get around THIS with her rubbage 'bout superstition. Go on, Tom!"

 

"Oh, it's all getting just as bright as day, now. Next you said I

warn't BAD, only mischeevous and harum-scarum, and not any more

responsible than--than--I think it was a colt, or something."

 

"And so it was! Well, goodness gracious! Go on, Tom!"

 

"And then you began to cry."

 

"So I did. So I did. Not the first time, neither. And then--"

 

"Then Mrs. Harper she began to cry, and said Joe was just the same,

and she wished she hadn't whipped him for taking cream when she'd

throwed it out her own self--"

 

"Tom! The sperrit was upon you! You was a prophesying--that's what you

was doing! Land alive, go on, Tom!"

 

"Then Sid he said--he said--"

 

"I don't think I said anything," said Sid.

 

"Yes you did, Sid," said Mary.

 

"Shut your heads and let Tom go on! What did he say, Tom?"

 

"He said--I THINK he said he hoped I was better off where I was gone

to, but if I'd been better sometimes--"

 

"THERE, d'you hear that! It was his very words!"

 

"And you shut him up sharp."

 

"I lay I did! There must 'a' been an angel there. There WAS an angel

there, somewheres!"

 

"And Mrs. Harper told about Joe scaring her with a firecracker, and

you told about Peter and the Painkiller--"

 

"Just as true as I live!"

 

"And then there was a whole lot of talk 'bout dragging the river for

us, and 'bout having the funeral Sunday, and then you and old Miss

Harper hugged and cried, and she went."

 

"It happened just so! It happened just so, as sure as I'm a-sitting in

these very tracks. Tom, you couldn't told it more like if you'd 'a'

seen it! And then what? Go on, Tom!"

 

"Then I thought you prayed for me--and I could see you and hear every

word you said. And you went to bed, and I was so sorry that I took and

wrote on a piece of sycamore bark, 'We ain't dead--we are only off

being pirates,' and put it on the table by the candle; and then you

looked so good, laying there asleep, that I thought I went and leaned

over and kissed you on the lips."

 

"Did you, Tom, DID you! I just forgive you everything for that!" And

she seized the boy in a crushing embrace that made him feel like the

guiltiest of villains.

 

"It was very kind, even though it was only a--dream," Sid soliloquized

just audibly.

 

"Shut up, Sid! A body does just the same in a dream as he'd do if he

was awake. Here's a big Milum apple I've been saving for you, Tom, if

you was ever found again--now go 'long to school. I'm thankful to the

good God and Father of us all I've got you back, that's long-suffering

and merciful to them that believe on Him and keep His word, though

goodness knows I'm unworthy of it, but if only the worthy ones got His

blessings and had His hand to help them over the rough places, there's

few enough would smile here or ever enter into His rest when the long

night comes. Go 'long Sid, Mary, Tom--take yourselves off--you've

hendered me long enough."

 

The children left for school, and the old lady to call on Mrs. Harper

and vanquish her realism with Tom's marvellous dream. Sid had better

judgment than to utter the thought that was in his mind as he left the

house. It was this: "Pretty thin--as long a dream as that, without any

mistakes in it!"

 

What a hero Tom was become, now! He did not go skipping and prancing,

but moved with a dignified swagger as became a pirate who felt that the

public eye was on him. And indeed it was; he tried not to seem to see

the looks or hear the remarks as he passed along, but they were food

and drink to him. Smaller boys than himself flocked at his heels, as

proud to be seen with him, and tolerated by him, as if he had been the

drummer at the head of a procession or the elephant leading a menagerie

into town. Boys of his own size pretended not to know he had been away

at all; but they were consuming with envy, nevertheless. They would

have given anything to have that swarthy suntanned skin of his, and his

glittering notoriety; and Tom would not have parted with either for a

circus.

 

At school the children made so much of him and of Joe, and delivered

such eloquent admiration from their eyes, that the two heroes were not

long in becoming insufferably "stuck-up." They began to tell their

adventures to hungry listeners--but they only began; it was not a thing

likely to have an end, with imaginations like theirs to furnish

material. And finally, when they got out their pipes and went serenely