The adventures of tom sa.., p.1
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Part 1., p.1Mark Twain
Produced by David Widger
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 ortwo were experiences of my own, the rest those of boys who wereschoolmates of mine. Huck Finn is drawn from life; Tom Sawyer also, butnot from an individual--he is a combination of the characteristics ofthree boys whom I knew, and therefore belongs to the composite order ofarchitecture.
The odd superstitions touched upon were all prevalent among childrenand 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 andgirls, 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 whatthey once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked,and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in.
T O M S A W Y E R
"What's gone with that boy, I wonder? You TOM!"
The old lady pulled her spectacles down and looked over them about theroom; then she put them up and looked out under them. She seldom ornever looked THROUGH them for so small a thing as a boy; they were herstate pair, the pride of her heart, and were built for "style," notservice--she could have seen through a pair of stove-lids just as well.She looked perplexed for a moment, and then said, not fiercely, butstill 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 punchingunder the bed with the broom, and so she needed breath to punctuate thepunches 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 thetomato vines and "jimpson" weeds that constituted the garden. No Tom.So she lifted up her voice at an angle calculated for distance andshouted:
There was a slight noise behind her and she turned just in time toseize 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 inthere?"
"Nothing! Look at your hands. And look at your mouth. What IS thattruck?"
"I don't know, aunt."
"Well, I know. It's jam--that's what it is. Forty times I've said ifyou 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. Thelad fled on the instant, scrambled up the high board-fence, anddisappeared over it.
His aunt Polly stood surprised a moment, and then broke into a gentlelaugh.
"Hang the boy, can't I never learn anything? Ain't he played me tricksenough like that for me to be looking out for him by this time? But oldfools 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 howlong he can torment me before I get my dander up, and he knows if hecan make out to put me off for a minute or make me laugh, it's all downagain 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 spilethe child, as the Good Book says. I'm a laying up sin and suffering forus both, I know. He's full of the Old Scratch, but laws-a-me! he's myown dead sister's boy, poor thing, and I ain't got the heart to lashhim, 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, manthat is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble, as theScripture says, and I reckon it's so. He'll play hookey this evening, *and [* Southwestern for "afternoon"] I'll just be obleeged to make himwork, to-morrow, to punish him. It's mighty hard to make him workSaturdays, when all the boys is having holiday, but he hates work morethan 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 homebarely in season to help Jim, the small colored boy, saw next-day'swood and split the kindlings before supper--at least he was there intime to tell his adventures to Jim while Jim did three-fourths of thework. Tom's younger brother (or rather half-brother) Sid was alreadythrough with his part of the work (picking up chips), for he was aquiet boy, and had no adventurous, troublesome ways.
While Tom was eating his supper, and stealing sugar as opportunityoffered, Aunt Polly asked him questions that were full of guile, andvery deep--for she wanted to trap him into damaging revealments. Likemany other simple-hearted souls, it was her pet vanity to believe shewas endowed with a talent for dark and mysterious diplomacy, and sheloved to contemplate her most transparent devices as marvels of lowcunning. Said she:
"Tom, it was middling warm in school, warn't it?"
"Powerful warm, warn't it?"
"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 reflectthat she had discovered that the shirt was dry without anybody knowingthat that was what she had in her mind. But in spite of her, Tom knewwhere 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 ofcircumstantial evidence, and missed a trick. Then she had a newinspiration:
"Tom, you didn't have to undo your shirt collar where I sewed it, topump on your head, did you? Unbutton your jacket!"
The trouble vanished out of Tom's face. He opened his jacket. Hisshirt collar was securely sewed.
"Bother! Well, go 'long with you. I'd made sure you'd played hookeyand been a-swimming. But I forgive ye, Tom. I reckon you're a kind of asinged cat, as the saying is--better'n you look. THIS time."
She was half sorry her sagacity had miscarried, and half glad that Tomhad 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 intothe lapels of his jacket, and had thread bound about them--one needlecarried white thread and the other black. He said:
"She'd never noticed if it hadn't been for Sid. Confound it! sometimesshe sews it with white, and sometimes she sews it with black. I wish togeeminy she'd stick to one or t'other--I can't keep the run of 'em. ButI 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 verywe
Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles.Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to himthan a man's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest borethem down and drove them out of his mind for the time--just as men'smisfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. Thisnew interest was a valued novelty in whistling, which he had justacquired 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 shortintervals in the midst of the music--the reader probably remembers howto do it, if he has ever been a boy.
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