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The Adventures of
Tom Sawyer

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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 “ringtaw” 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 crybaby 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 crybabies. 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 warwhoop 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 grapevine, 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 grassblade, 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 treetops right over the boys’ heads. They clung together in terror, in the thick gloom that followed. A few big raindrops 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 thunderblasts 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 riverbank. Now the battle was at its highest. Under the ceaseless conflagration of lightning that flamed in the skies, everything below stood out in cleancut and shadowless distinctness: the bending trees, the billowy river, white with foam, the driving spray of spumeflakes, the dim outlines of the high bluffs on the other side, glimpsed through the drifting cloudrack 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 thunderpeals 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 treetops, 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 campfire 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 gladhearted 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 warwhoops, 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 suppertime, 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 Pain-killer—”

“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 sun-tanned 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 puffing around, the very summit of glory was reached.

Tom decided that he could be independent of Becky Thatcher now. Glory was sufficient. He would live for glory. Now that he was distinguished, maybe she would be wanting to “make up.” Well, let her—she should see that he could be as indifferent as some other people. Presently she arrived. Tom pretended not to see her. He moved away and joined a group of boys and girls and began to talk. Soon he observed that she was tripping gayly back and forth with flushed face and dancing eyes, pretending to be busy chasing schoolmates, and screaming with laughter when she made a capture; but he noticed that she always made her captures in his vicinity, and that she seemed to cast a conscious eye in his direction at such times, too. It gratified all the vicious vanity that was in him; and so, instead of winning him, it only “set him up” the more and made him the more diligent to avoid betraying that he knew she was about. Presently she gave over skylarking, and moved irresolutely about, sighing once or twice and glancing furtively and wistfully toward Tom. Then she observed that now Tom was talking more particularly to Amy Lawrence than to any one else. She felt a sharp pang and grew disturbed and uneasy at once. She tried to go away, but her feet were treacherous, and carried her to the group instead. She said to a girl almost at Tom’s elbow—with sham vivacity:

“Why, Mary Austin! you bad girl, why didn’t you come to Sunday-school?”

“I did come—didn’t you see me?”

“Why, no! Did you? Where did you sit?”

“I was in Miss Peters’ class, where I always go. I saw you.”

“Did you? Why, it’s funny I didn’t see you. I wanted to tell you about the picnic.”

“Oh, that’s jolly. Who’s going to give it?”

“My ma’s going to let me have one.”

“Oh, goody; I hope she’ll let me come.”

“Well, she will. The picnic’s for me. She’ll let anybody come that I want, and I want you.”

“That’s ever so nice. When is it going to be?”

“By and by. Maybe about vacation.”

“Oh, won’t it be fun! You going to have all the girls and boys?”

“Yes, every one that’s friends to me—or wants to be”; and she glanced ever so furtively at Tom, but he talked right along to Amy Lawrence about the terrible storm on the island, and how the lightning tore the great sycamore tree “all to flinders” while he was “standing within three feet of it.”

“Oh, may I come?” said Grace Miller.

“Yes.”

“And me?” said Sally Rogers.

“Yes.”

“And me, too?” said Susy Harper. “And Joe?”

“Yes.”

And so on, with clapping of joyful hands till all the group had begged for invitations but Tom and Amy. Then Tom turned coolly away, still talking, and took Amy with him. Becky’s lips trembled and the tears came to her eyes; she hid these signs with a forced gayety and went on chattering, but the life had gone out of the picnic, now, and out of everything else; she got away as soon as she could and hid herself and had what her sex call “a good cry.” Then she sat moody, with wounded pride, till the bell rang. She roused up, now, with a vindictive cast in her eye, and gave her plaited tails a shake and said she knew what she’d do.

At recess Tom continued his flirtation with Amy with jubilant self-satisfaction. And he kept drifting about to find Becky and lacerate her with the performance. At last he spied her, but there was a sudden falling of his mercury. She was sitting cosily on a little bench behind the schoolhouse looking at a picture-book with Alfred Temple—and so absorbed were they, and their heads so close together over the book, that they did not seem to be conscious of anything in the world besides. Jealousy ran red-hot through Tom’s veins. He began to hate himself for throwing away the chance Becky had offered for a reconciliation. He called himself a fool, and all the hard names he could think of. He wanted to cry with vexation. Amy chatted happily along, as they walked, for her heart was singing, but Tom’s tongue had lost its function. He did not hear what Amy was saying, and whenever she paused expectantly he could only stammer an awkward assent, which was as often misplaced as otherwise. He kept drifting to the rear of the schoolhouse, again and again, to sear his eyeballs with the hateful spectacle there. He could not help it. And it maddened him to see, as he thought he saw, that Becky Thatcher never once suspected that he was even in the land of the living. But she did see, nevertheless; and she knew she was winning her fight, too, and was glad to see him suffer as she had suffered.

Amy’s happy prattle became intolerable. Tom hinted at things he had to attend to; things that must be done; and time was fleeting. But in vain—the girl chirped on. Tom thought, “Oh, hang her, ain’t I ever going to get rid of her?” At last he must be attending to those things—and she said artlessly that she would be “around” when school let out. And he hastened away, hating her for it.

“Any other boy!” Tom thought, grating his teeth. “Any boy in the whole town but that Saint Louis smarty that thinks he dresses so fine and is aristocracy! Oh, all right, I licked you the first day you ever saw this town, mister, and I’ll lick you again! You just wait till I catch you out! I’ll just take and—”

And he went through the motions of thrashing an imaginary boy—pummelling the air, and kicking and gouging. “Oh, you do, do you? You holler ’nough, do you? Now, then, let that learn you!” And so the imaginary flogging was finished to his satisfaction.

Tom fled home at noon. His conscience could not endure any more of Amy’s grateful happiness, and his jealousy could bear no more of the other distress. Becky resumed her picture inspections with Alfred, but as the minutes dragged along and no Tom came to suffer, her triumph began to cloud and she lost interest; gravity and absentmindedness followed, and then melancholy; two or three times she pricked up her ear at a footstep, but it was a false hope; no Tom came. At last she grew entirely miserable and wished she hadn’t carried it so far. When poor Alfred, seeing that he was losing her, he did not know how, kept exclaiming: “Oh, here’s a jolly one! look at this!” she lost patience at last, and said, “Oh, don’t bother me! I don’t care for them!” and burst into tears, and got up and walked away.

Alfred dropped alongside and was going to try to comfort her, but she said:

“Go away and leave me alone, can’t you! I hate you!”

So the boy halted, wondering what he could have done—for she had said she would look at pictures all through the nooning—and she walked on, crying. Then Alfred went musing into the deserted schoolhouse. He was humiliated and angry. He easily guessed his way to the truth—the girl had simply made a convenience of him to vent her spite upon Tom Sawyer. He was far from hating Tom the less when this thought occurred to him. He wished there was some way to get that boy into trouble without much risk to himself. Tom’s spelling-book fell under his eye. Here was his opportunity. He gratefully opened to the lesson for the afternoon and poured ink upon the page.

Becky, glancing in at a window behind him at the moment, saw the act, and moved on, without discovering herself. She started homeward, now, intending to find Tom and tell him; Tom would be thankful and their troubles would be healed. Before she was half way home, however, she had changed her mind. The thought of Tom’s treatment of her when she was talking about her picnic came scorching back and filled her with shame. She resolved to let him get whipped on the damaged spelling-book’s account, and to hate him forever, into the bargain.