The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
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.
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 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
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! 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
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
"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 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
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
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
He was not the Model Boy of the village. He
knew the model boy very well though -- and loathed
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 closebuttoned
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."
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
"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 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."
Another pause, and more eying and sidling around
each other. Presently they were shoulder to shoulder.
"Get away from here!"
"Go away yourself!"
"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
"That's a lie."
"YOUR saying so don't make it so."
Tom drew a line in the dust with his big toe, and
"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
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.
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
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
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 dingdong
-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
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
"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,
"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
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 passengercoaches
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
The boy mused awhile over the substantial change
which had taken place in his worldly circumstances,
and then wended toward headquarters to report.
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,
"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.
"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 cowstable.
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
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
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
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
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
Tom turned in without the added vexation of prayers,
and Sid made mental note of the omission.
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
"Blessed are the -- a -- a --"
"Yes -- poor; blessed are the poor -- a -- a --"
"In spirit --"
"In spirit; blessed are the poor in spirit, for they --
"For THEIRS. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs
is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn,
for they -- they --"
"For they -- a --"
"S, H, A --"
"For they S, H -- Oh, I don't know what it is!"
"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
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
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?"
"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 sleighrunners
-- 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
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
"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
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:
"Oh, no, not Tom -- it is --"
"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
"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
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
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
Shall I be car-ri-ed toe the skies, on flow'ry BEDS
Whilst others fight to win the prize, and sail thro' BLOODy
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.
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
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
"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
"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!"
"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
"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."
"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
"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 yourself, and see how you like it."
"What's that you got?"
"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
"Where'd you get the blue ticket?"
"Bought it off'n Ben Rogers two weeks ago for a
"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?"
"Spunk-water! I wouldn't give a dern for spunkwater."
"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?"
"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 spunkwater
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 spunkwater.
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
"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
"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
"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
"I never thought of that. That's so. Lemme go
"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 --
"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.
Tom knew that when his name was pronounced in
full, it meant trouble.
"Come up here. Now, sir, why are you late again,
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 school-house. 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
"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
"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
"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
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?"
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."
"No I won't -- deed and deed and double deed
"You won't tell anybody at all? Ever, as long as
"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
"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 vise 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
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.
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
"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."
"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
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
"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?"
"Why, engaged to be married."
"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
"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, 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
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
"It's so nice. I never heard of it before."
"Oh, it's ever so gay! Why, me and Amy
The big eyes told Tom his blunder and he stopped,
"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
"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
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.
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 school-house 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
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 Sundayschool,
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
"What hasn't come here, come! What's here, stay
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,
"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
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
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
"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
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
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 preceptible 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
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?"
"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
"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:
"What is it, Tom?" And the two clung together
with beating hearts.
"Sh! There 'tis again! Didn't you hear it?"
"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."
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 --'"
"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
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
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
"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,
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
"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
Potter started on a trot that quickly increased to a
run. The half-breed stood looking after him. He
"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
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.
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
"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
"Huck, Muff Potter don't know it. How can he
"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
"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
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."
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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.
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.
"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
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
"It was within three feet of Muff Potter when 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
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
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
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
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 blisterplasters.
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
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.
"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
"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."
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
"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.
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
"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:
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
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!"
"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!"
"Shake out that maintogalans'l! Sheets and braces!
NOW my hearties!"
"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
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
"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,
"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
"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
"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?"
"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,
"And don't they wear the bulliest clothes! Oh no!
All gold and silver and di'monds," said Joe, with
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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.
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
"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 midchannel,
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.
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
"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,
"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
"I want to go, too, Tom. It was getting so lonesome
anyway, and now it'll be worse. Let's us go,
"I won't! You can all go, if you want to. I mean
"Tom, I better go."
"Well, go 'long -- who's hendering you."
Huck began to pick up his scattered clothes. He
"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
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
"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
"So do I! And when we tell 'em we learned when
we was off pirating, won't they wish they'd been
"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
"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 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
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
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.
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
"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
"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
"Now, auntie, you know I do care for you," said
"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
"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.
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
"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,
"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
"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 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
"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.
"And me?" said Sally Rogers.
"And me, too?" said Susy Harper. "And Joe?"
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 absent-mindedness 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
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
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.
TOM arrived at home in a dreary mood,
and the first thing his aunt said to him
showed him that he had brought his
sorrows to an unpromising market:
"Tom, I've a notion to skin you alive!"
"Auntie, what have I done?"
"Well, you've done enough. Here I go over to Sereny
Harper, like an old softy, expecting I'm going to
make her believe all that rubbage about that dream,
when lo and behold you she'd found out from Joe that
you was over here and heard all the talk we had that
night. Tom, I don't know what is to become of a boy
that will act like that. It makes me feel so bad to think
you could let me go to Sereny Harper and make such a
fool of myself and never say a word."
This was a new aspect of the thing. His smartness
of the morning had seemed to Tom a good joke before,
and very ingenious. It merely looked mean and
shabby now. He hung his head and could not think
of anything to say for a moment. Then he said:
"Auntie, I wish I hadn't done it -- but I didn't think."
"Oh, child, you never think. You never think of
anything but your own selfishness. You could think
to come all the way over here from Jackson's Island in
the night to laugh at our troubles, and you could think
to fool me with a lie about a dream; but you couldn't
ever think to pity us and save us from sorrow."
"Auntie, I know now it was mean, but I didn't
mean to be mean. I didn't, honest. And besides, I
didn't come over here to laugh at you that night."
"What did you come for, then?"
"It was to tell you not to be uneasy about us, because
we hadn't got drownded."
"Tom, Tom, I would be the thankfullest soul in this
world if I could believe you ever had as good a thought
as that, but you know you never did -- and I know it,
"Indeed and 'deed I did, auntie -- I wish I may never
stir if I didn't."
"Oh, Tom, don't lie -- don't do it. It only makes
things a hundred times worse."
"It ain't a lie, auntie; it's the truth. I wanted to
keep you from grieving -- that was all that made me
"I'd give the whole world to believe that -- it would
cover up a power of sins, Tom. I'd 'most be glad you'd
run off and acted so bad. But it ain't reasonable; because,
why didn't you tell me, child?"
"Why, you see, when you got to talking about the
funeral, I just got all full of the idea of our coming and
hiding in the church, and I couldn't somehow bear to
spoil it. So I just put the bark back in my pocket and
"The bark I had wrote on to tell you we'd gone
pirating. I wish, now, you'd waked up when I kissed
you -- I do, honest."
The hard lines in his aunt's face relaxed and a sudden
tenderness dawned in her eyes.
"DID you kiss me, Tom?"
"Why, yes, I did."
"Are you sure you did, Tom?"
"Why, yes, I did, auntie -- certain sure."
"What did you kiss me for, Tom?"
"Because I loved you so, and you laid there moaning
and I was so sorry."
The words sounded like truth. The old lady could
not hide a tremor in her voice when she said:
"Kiss me again, Tom! -- and be off with you to
school, now, and don't bother me any more."
The moment he was gone, she ran to a closet and
got out the ruin of a jacket which Tom had gone
pirating in. Then she stopped, with it in her hand,
and said to herself:
"No, I don't dare. Poor boy, I reckon he's lied
about it -- but it's a blessed, blessed lie, there's such a
comfort come from it. I hope the Lord -- I KNOW the
Lord will forgive him, because it was such goodheartedness
in him to tell it. But I don't want to find
out it's a lie. I won't look."
She put the jacket away, and stood by musing a
minute. Twice she put out her hand to take the
garment again, and twice she refrained. Once more
she ventured, and this time she fortified herself with
the thought: "It's a good lie -- it's a good lie -- I won't
let it grieve me." So she sought the jacket pocket. A
moment later she was reading Tom's piece of bark
through flowing tears and saying: "I could forgive the
boy, now, if he'd committed a million sins!"
THERE was something about Aunt Polly's
manner, when she kissed Tom, that swept
away his low spirits and made him lighthearted
and happy again. He started to
school and had the luck of coming upon
Becky Thatcher at the head of Meadow
Lane. His mood always determined his manner.
Without a moment's hesitation he ran to her and said:
"I acted mighty mean to-day, Becky, and I'm so
sorry. I won't ever, ever do that way again, as long
as ever I live -- please make up, won't you?"
The girl stopped and looked him scornfully in the
"I'll thank you to keep yourself TO yourself, Mr.
Thomas Sawyer. I'll never speak to you again."
She tossed her head and passed on. Tom was so
stunned that he had not even presence of mind enough
to say "Who cares, Miss Smarty?" until the right time
to say it had gone by. So he said nothing. But he
was in a fine rage, nevertheless. He moped into the
schoolyard wishing she were a boy, and imagining
how he would trounce her if she were. He presently
encountered her and delivered a stinging remark as he
passed. She hurled one in return, and the angry
breach was complete. It seemed to Becky, in her hot
resentment, that she could hardly wait for school to
"take in," she was so impatient to see Tom flogged for
the injured spelling-book. If she had had any lingering
notion of exposing Alfred Temple, Tom's offensive
fling had driven it entirely away.
Poor girl, she did not know how fast she was nearing
trouble herself. The master, Mr. Dobbins, had
reached middle age with an unsatisfied ambition. The
darling of his desires was, to be a doctor, but poverty
had decreed that he should be nothing higher than a
village schoolmaster. Every day he took a mysterious
book out of his desk and absorbed himself in it at times
when no classes were reciting. He kept that book under
lock and key. There was not an urchin in school
but was perishing to have a glimpse of it, but the chance
never came. Every boy and girl had a theory about
the nature of that book; but no two theories were alike,
and there was no way of getting at the facts in the case.
Now, as Becky was passing by the desk, which stood
near the door, she noticed that the key was in the lock!
It was a precious moment. She glanced around;
found herself alone, and the next instant she had the
book in her hands. The title-page -- Professor Somebody'
s ANATOMY -- carried no information to her mind;
so she began to turn the leaves. She came at once upon
a handsomely engraved and colored frontispiece -- a human
figure, stark naked. At that moment a shadow
fell on the page and Tom Sawyer stepped in at the
door and caught a glimpse of the picture. Becky
snatched at the book to close it, and had the hard luck
to tear the pictured page half down the middle. She
thrust the volume into the desk, turned the key, and
burst out crying with shame and vexation.
"Tom Sawyer, you are just as mean as you can
be, to sneak up on a person and look at what they're
"How could I know you was looking at anything?"
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Tom Sawyer;
you know you're going to tell on me, and oh, what shall
I do, what shall I do! I'll be whipped, and I never was
whipped in school."
Then she stamped her little foot and said:
"BE so mean if you want to! I know something
that's going to happen. You just wait and you'll see!
Hateful, hateful, hateful!" -- and she flung out of the
house with a new explosion of crying.
Tom stood still, rather flustered by this onslaught.
Presently he said to himself:
"What a curious kind of a fool a girl is! Never
been licked in school! Shucks! What's a licking!
That's just like a girl -- they're so thin-skinned and
chicken-hearted. Well, of course I ain't going to tell
old Dobbins on this little fool, because there's other
ways of getting even on her, that ain't so mean; but
what of it? Old Dobbins will ask who it was tore his
book. Nobody'll answer. Then he'll do just the way
he always does -- ask first one and then t'other, and
when he comes to the right girl he'll know it, without
any telling. Girls' faces always tell on them. They
ain't got any backbone. She'll get licked. Well, it's
a kind of a tight place for Becky Thatcher, because there
ain't any way out of it." Tom conned the thing a
moment longer, and then added: "All right, though;
she'd like to see me in just such a fix -- let her sweat it
Tom joined the mob of skylarking scholars outside.
In a few moments the master arrived and school "took
in." Tom did not feel a strong interest in his studies.
Every time he stole a glance at the girls' side of the
room Becky's face troubled him. Considering all
things, he did not want to pity her, and yet it was all
he could do to help it. He could get up no exultation
that was really worthy the name. Presently the spelling
-book discovery was made, and Tom's mind was entirely
full of his own matters for a while after that.
Becky roused up from her lethargy of distress and
showed good interest in the proceedings. She did not
expect that Tom could get out of his trouble by denying
that he spilt the ink on the book himself; and she was
right. The denial only seemed to make the thing worse
for Tom. Becky supposed she would be glad of that,
and she tried to believe she was glad of it, but she found
she was not certain. When the worst came to the
worst, she had an impulse to get up and tell on Alfred
Temple, but she made an effort and forced herself to
keep still -- because, said she to herself, "he'll tell about
me tearing the picture sure. I wouldn't say a word,
not to save his life!"
Tom took his whipping and went back to his seat
not at all broken-hearted, for he thought it was possible
that he had unknowingly upset the ink on the spellingbook
himself, in some skylarking bout -- he had denied
it for form's sake and because it was custom, and had
stuck to the denial from principle.
A whole hour drifted by, the master sat nodding in
his throne, the air was drowsy with the hum of study.
By and by, Mr. Dobbins straightened himself up, yawned,
then unlocked his desk, and reached for his book,
but seemed undecided whether to take it out or leave it.
Most of the pupils glanced up languidly, but there were
two among them that watched his movements with intent
eyes. Mr. Dobbins fingered his book absently for
a while, then took it out and settled himself in his chair
to read! Tom shot a glance at Becky. He had seen a
hunted and helpless rabbit look as she did, with a gun
levelled at its head. Instantly he forgot his quarrel
with her. Quick -- something must be done! done in a
flash, too! But the very imminence of the emergency
paralyzed his invention. Good! -- he had an inspiration
! He would run and snatch the book, spring
through the door and fly. But his resolution shook
for one little instant, and the chance was lost -- the
master opened the volume. If Tom only had the
wasted opportunity back again! Too late. There was
no help for Becky now, he said. The next moment the
master faced the school. Every eye sank under his gaze.
There was that in it which smote even the innocent
with fear. There was silence while one might count ten
-- the master was gathering his wrath. Then he spoke:
"Who tore this book?"
There was not a sound. One could have heard a
pin drop. The stillness continued; the master searched
face after face for signs of guilt.
"Benjamin Rogers, did you tear this book?"
A denial. Another pause.
"Joseph Harper, did you?"
Another denial. Tom's uneasiness grew more and
more intense under the slow torture of these proceedings.
The master scanned the ranks of boys -- considered a
while, then turned to the girls:
A shake of the head.
The same sign.
"Susan Harper, did you do this?"
Another negative. The next girl was Becky Thatcher.
Tom was trembling from head to foot with excitement
and a sense of the hopelessness of the situation.
"Rebecca Thatcher" [Tom glanced at her face -- it
was white with terror] -- "did you tear -- no, look me
in the face" [her hands rose in appeal] -- "did you tear
A thought shot like lightning through Tom's brain.
He sprang to his feet and shouted -- "I done it!"
The school stared in perplexity at this incredible
folly. Tom stood a moment, to gather his dismembered
faculties; and when he stepped forward to go
to his punishment the surprise, the gratitude, the
adoration that shone upon him out of poor Becky's
eyes seemed pay enough for a hundred floggings.
Inspired by the splendor of his own act, he took without
an outcry the most merciless flaying that even Mr.
Dobbins had ever administered; and also received with
indifference the added cruelty of a command to remain
two hours after school should be dismissed -- for he
knew who would wait for him outside till his captivity
was done, and not count the tedious time as loss, either.
Tom went to bed that night planning vengeance
against Alfred Temple; for with shame and repentance
Becky had told him all, not forgetting her own treachery;
but even the longing for vengeance had to give way,
soon, to pleasanter musings, and he fell asleep at last
with Becky's latest words lingering dreamily in his ear --
"Tom, how COULD you be so noble!"
VACATION was approaching. The schoolmaster,
always severe, grew severer and
more exacting than ever, for he wanted
the school to make a good showing on
"Examination" day. His rod and his
ferule were seldom idle now -- at least
among the smaller pupils. Only the biggest boys, and
young ladies of eighteen and twenty, escaped lashing.
Mr. Dobbins' lashings were very vigorous ones, too; for
although he carried, under his wig, a perfectly bald
and shiny head, he had only reached middle age, and
there was no sign of feebleness in his muscle. As
the great day approached, all the tyranny that was
in him came to the surface; he seemed to take a vindictive
pleasure in punishing the least shortcomings.
The consequence was, that the smaller boys spent their
days in terror and suffering and their nights in plotting
revenge. They threw away no opportunity to do the
master a mischief. But he kept ahead all the time.
The retribution that followed every vengeful success
was so sweeping and majestic that the boys always
retired from the field badly worsted. At last they conspired
together and hit upon a plan that promised a
dazzling victory. They swore in the sign-painter's boy,
told him the scheme, and asked his help. He had his
own reasons for being delighted, for the master boarded
in his father's family and had given the boy ample
cause to hate him. The master's wife would go on a visit
to the country in a few days, and there would be nothing
to interfere with the plan; the master always prepared
himself for great occasions by getting pretty well
fuddled, and the sign-painter's boy said that when the
dominie had reached the proper condition on Examination
Evening he would "manage the thing" while he
napped in his chair; then he would have him awakened
at the right time and hurried away to school.
In the fulness of time the interesting occasion arrived.
At eight in the evening the schoolhouse was
brilliantly lighted, and adorned with wreaths and festoons
of foliage and flowers. The master sat throned
in his great chair upon a raised platform, with his
blackboard behind him. He was looking tolerably
mellow. Three rows of benches on each side and six
rows in front of him were occupied by the dignitaries of
the town and by the parents of the pupils. To his left,
back of the rows of citizens, was a spacious temporary
platform upon which were seated the scholars who were
to take part in the exercises of the evening; rows of
small boys, washed and dressed to an intolerable state
of discomfort; rows of gawky big boys; snowbanks of
girls and young ladies clad in lawn and muslin and
conspicuously conscious of their bare arms, their grandmothers'
ancient trinkets, their bits of pink and blue
ribbon and the flowers in their hair. All the rest of
the house was filled with non-participating scholars.
The exercises began. A very little boy stood up and
sheepishly recited, "You'd scarce expect one of my
age to speak in public on the stage," etc. -- accompanying
himself with the painfully exact and spasmodic
gestures which a machine might have used -- supposing
the machine to be a trifle out of order. But he got
through safely, though cruelly scared, and got a fine
round of applause when he made his manufactured
bow and retired.
A little shamefaced girl lisped, "Mary had a little
lamb," etc., performed a compassion-inspiring curtsy,
got her meed of applause, and sat down flushed and
Tom Sawyer stepped forward with conceited confidence
and soared into the unquenchable and indestructible
"Give me liberty or give me death" speech,
with fine fury and frantic gesticulation, and broke down
in the middle of it. A ghastly stage-fright seized him,
his legs quaked under him and he was like to choke.
True, he had the manifest sympathy of the house but
he had the house's silence, too, which was even worse
than its sympathy. The master frowned, and this completed
the disaster. Tom struggled awhile and then
retired, utterly defeated. There was a weak attempt
at applause, but it died early.
"The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck" followed;
also "The Assyrian Came Down," and other declamatory
gems. Then there were reading exercises, and a
spelling fight. The meagre Latin class recited with
honor. The prime feature of the evening was in order,
now -- original "compositions" by the young ladies.
Each in her turn stepped forward to the edge of the
platform, cleared her throat, held up her manuscript
(tied with dainty ribbon), and proceeded to read, with
labored attention to "expression" and punctuation.
The themes were the same that had been illuminated
upon similar occasions by their mothers before them,
their grandmothers, and doubtless all their ancestors in
the female line clear back to the Crusades. "Friendship"
was one; "Memories of Other Days"; "Religion
in History"; "Dream Land"; "The Advantages of
Culture"; "Forms of Political Government Compared
and Contrasted"; "Melancholy"; "Filial Love";
"Heart Longings," etc., etc.
A prevalent feature in these compositions was a
nursed and petted melancholy; another was a wasteful
and opulent gush of "fine language"; another was a
tendency to lug in by the ears particularly prized words
and phrases until they were worn entirely out; and
a peculiarity that conspicuously marked and marred
them was the inveterate and intolerable sermon that
wagged its crippled tail at the end of each and every
one of them. No matter what the subject might be, a
brain-racking effort was made to squirm it into some
aspect or other that the moral and religious mind could
contemplate with edification. The glaring insincerity
of these sermons was not sufficient to compass the
banishment of the fashion from the schools, and it is
not sufficient to-day; it never will be sufficient while
the world stands, perhaps. There is no school in all
our land where the young ladies do not feel obliged to
close their compositions with a sermon; and you will
find that the sermon of the most frivolous and the least
religious girl in the school is always the longest and the
most relentlessly pious. But enough of this. Homely
truth is unpalatable.
Let us return to the "Examination." The first
composition that was read was one entitled "Is this,
then, Life?" Perhaps the reader can endure an extract
"In the common walks of life, with what delightful
emotions does the youthful mind look forward to some
anticipated scene of festivity! Imagination is busy
sketching rose-tinted pictures of joy. In fancy, the
voluptuous votary of fashion sees herself amid the
festive throng, 'the observed of all observers.' Her
graceful form, arrayed in snowy robes, is whirling
through the mazes of the joyous dance; her eye is
brightest, her step is lightest in the gay assembly.
"In such delicious fancies time quickly glides by,
and the welcome hour arrives for her entrance into
the Elysian world, of which she has had such bright
dreams. How fairy-like does everything appear to
her enchanted vision! Each new scene is more charming
than the last. But after a while she finds that
beneath this goodly exterior, all is vanity, the
flattery which once charmed her soul, now grates
harshly upon her ear; the ball-room has lost its
charms; and with wasted health and imbittered heart,
she turns away with the conviction that earthly
pleasures cannot satisfy the longings of the soul!"
And so forth and so on. There was a buzz of gratification
from time to time during the reading, accompanied
by whispered ejaculations of "How sweet!"
"How eloquent!" "So true!" etc., and after the thing
had closed with a peculiarly afflicting sermon the
applause was enthusiastic.
Then arose a slim, melancholy girl, whose face had
the "interesting" paleness that comes of pills and indigestion,
and read a "poem." Two stanzas of it will do:
"A MISSOURI MAIDEN'S FAREWELL TO ALABAMA
"Alabama, good-bye! I love thee well!
But yet for a while do I leave thee now!
Sad, yes, sad thoughts of thee my heart doth swell,
And burning recollections throng my brow!
For I have wandered through thy flowery woods;
Have roamed and read near Tallapoosa's stream;
Have listened to Tallassee's warring floods,
And wooed on Coosa's side Aurora's beam.
"Yet shame I not to bear an o'er-full heart,
Nor blush to turn behind my tearful eyes;
'Tis from no stranger land I now must part,
'Tis to no strangers left I yield these sighs.
Welcome and home were mine within this State,
Whose vales I leave -- whose spires fade fast from me
And cold must be mine eyes, and heart, and tete,
When, dear Alabama! they turn cold on thee!"
There were very few there who knew what "tete"
meant, but the poem was very satisfactory, nevertheless.
Next appeared a dark-complexioned, black-eyed,
black-haired young lady, who paused an impressive
moment, assumed a tragic expression, and began to
read in a measured, solemn tone:
"Dark and tempestuous was night. Around the
throne on high not a single star quivered; but
the deep intonations of the heavy thunder
constantly vibrated upon the ear; whilst the
terrific lightning revelled in angry mood
through the cloudy chambers of heaven, seeming
to scorn the power exerted over its terror by
the illustrious Franklin! Even the boisterous
winds unanimously came forth from their mystic
homes, and blustered about as if to enhance by
their aid the wildness of the scene.
"At such a time,so dark,so dreary, for human
sympathy my very spirit sighed; but instead thereof,
"'My dearest friend, my counsellor, my comforter
and guide -- My joy in grief, my second bliss
in joy,' came to my side. She moved like one of
those bright beings pictured in the sunny walks
of fancy's Eden by the romantic and young, a
queen of beauty unadorned save by her own
transcendent loveliness. So soft was her step, it
failed to make even a sound, and but for the
magical thrill imparted by her genial touch, as
other unobtrusive beauties, she would have glided
away un-perceived -- unsought. A strange sadness
rested upon her features, like icy tears upon
the robe of December, as she pointed to the
contending elements without, and bade me contemplate
the two beings presented."
This nightmare occupied some ten pages of manuscript
and wound up with a sermon so destructive of
all hope to non-Presbyterians that it took the first prize.
This composition was considered to be the very finest
effort of the evening. The mayor of the village, in
delivering the prize to the author of it, made a warm
speech in which he said that it was by far the most
"eloquent" thing he had ever listened to, and that
Daniel Webster himself might well be proud of it.
It may be remarked, in passing, that the number
of compositions in which the word "beauteous" was
over-fondled, and human experience referred to as
"life's page," was up to the usual average.
Now the master, mellow almost to the verge of
geniality, put his chair aside, turned his back to the
audience, and began to draw a map of America on
the blackboard, to exercise the geography class upon.
But he made a sad business of it with his unsteady hand,
and a smothered titter rippled over the house. He
knew what the matter was, and set himself to right it.
He sponged out lines and remade them; but he only
distorted them more than ever, and the tittering was
more pronounced. He threw his entire attention upon
his work, now, as if determined not to be put down by
the mirth. He felt that all eyes were fastened upon
him; he imagined he was succeeding, and yet the tittering
continued; it even manifestly increased. And well
it might. There was a garret above, pierced with a
scuttle over his head; and down through this scuttle
came a cat, suspended around the haunches by a
string; she had a rag tied about her head and jaws
to keep her from mewing; as she slowly descended she
curved upward and clawed at the string, she swung
downward and clawed at the intangible air. The
tittering rose higher and higher -- the cat was within
six inches of the absorbed teacher's head -- down, down,
a little lower, and she grabbed his wig with her desperate
claws, clung to it, and was snatched up into the garret
in an instant with her trophy still in her possession!
And how the light did blaze abroad from the master's
bald pate -- for the sign-painter's boy had GILDED it!
That broke up the meeting. The boys were avenged.
Vacation had come.
NOTE:-- The pretended "compositions" quoted in
this chapter are taken without alteration from a
volume entitled "Prose and Poetry, by a Western
Lady" -- but they are exactly and precisely after
the schoolgirl pattern, and hence are much
happier than any mere imitations could be.
TOM joined the new order of Cadets of
Temperance, being attracted by the showy
character of their "regalia." He promised
to abstain from smoking, chewing, and
profanity as long as he remained a member.
Now he found out a new thing --
namely, that to promise not to do a thing is the surest
way in the world to make a body want to go and do that
very thing. Tom soon found himself tormented with a
desire to drink and swear; the desire grew to be so
intense that nothing but the hope of a chance to display
himself in his red sash kept him from withdrawing
from the order. Fourth of July was coming; but he
soon gave that up -- gave it up before he had worn his
shackles over forty-eight hours -- and fixed his hopes
upon old Judge Frazer, justice of the peace, who was
apparently on his deathbed and would have a big
public funeral, since he was so high an official. During
three days Tom was deeply concerned about the
Judge's condition and hungry for news of it. Sometimes
his hopes ran high -- so high that he would venture
to get out his regalia and practise before the lookingglass.
But the Judge had a most discouraging way
of fluctuating. At last he was pronounced upon the
mend -- and then convalescent. Tom was disgusted;
and felt a sense of injury, too. He handed in his resignation
at once -- and that night the Judge suffered a
relapse and died. Tom resolved that he would never
trust a man like that again.
The funeral was a fine thing. The Cadets paraded
in a style calculated to kill the late member with envy.
Tom was a free boy again, however -- there was something
in that. He could drink and swear, now -- but
found to his surprise that he did not want to. The
simple fact that he could, took the desire away, and
the charm of it.
Tom presently wondered to find that his coveted
vacation was beginning to hang a little heavily on his
He attempted a diary -- but nothing happened during
three days, and so he abandoned it.
The first of all the negro minstrel shows came to
town, and made a sensation. Tom and Joe Harper
got up a band of performers and were happy for two
Even the Glorious Fourth was in some sense a failure,
for it rained hard, there was no procession in consequence,
and the greatest man in the world (as Tom
supposed), Mr. Benton, an actual United States Senator,
proved an overwhelming disappointment -- for he was
not twenty-five feet high, nor even anywhere in the
neighborhood of it.
A circus came. The boys played circus for three
days afterward in tents made of rag carpeting -- admission,
three pins for boys, two for girls -- and then
circusing was abandoned.
A phrenologist and a mesmerizer came -- and went
again and left the village duller and drearier than
There were some boys-and-girls' parties, but they
were so few and so delightful that they only made the
aching voids between ache the harder.
Becky Thatcher was gone to her Constantinople
home to stay with her parents during vacation -- so
there was no bright side to life anywhere.
The dreadful secret of the murder was a chronic
misery. It was a very cancer for permanency and
Then came the measles.
During two long weeks Tom lay a prisoner, dead
to the world and its happenings. He was very ill, he
was interested in nothing. When he got upon his feet
at last and moved feebly down-town, a melancholy
change had come over everything and every creature.
There had been a "revival," and everybody had "got
religion," not only the adults, but even the boys and
girls. Tom went about, hoping against hope for the
sight of one blessed sinful face, but disappointment
crossed him everywhere. He found Joe Harper studying
a Testament, and turned sadly away from the depressing
spectacle. He sought Ben Rogers, and found
him visiting the poor with a basket of tracts. He hunted
up Jim Hollis, who called his attention to the precious
blessing of his late measles as a warning. Every boy
he encountered added another ton to his depression;
and when, in desperation, he flew for refuge at last to
the bosom of Huckleberry Finn and was received with
a Scriptural quotation, his heart broke and he crept
home and to bed realizing that he alone of all the town
was lost, forever and forever.
And that night there came on a terrific storm, with
driving rain, awful claps of thunder and blinding sheets
of lightning. He covered his head with the bedclothes
and waited in a horror of suspense for his doom; for he
had not the shadow of a doubt that all this hubbub was
about him. He believed he had taxed the forbearance
of the powers above to the extremity of endurance and
that this was the result. It might have seemed to him
a waste of pomp and ammunition to kill a bug with a
battery of artillery, but there seemed nothing incongruous
about the getting up such an expensive thunderstorm
as this to knock the turf from under an insect like
By and by the tempest spent itself and died without
accomplishing its object. The boy's first impulse was
to be grateful, and reform. His second was to wait
-- for there might not be any more storms.
The next day the doctors were back; Tom had relapsed.
The three weeks he spent on his back this time
seemed an entire age. When he got abroad at last he
was hardly grateful that he had been spared, remembering
how lonely was his estate, how companionless
and forlorn he was. He drifted listlessly down the
street and found Jim Hollis acting as judge in a juvenile
court that was trying a cat for murder, in the presence
of her victim, a bird. He found Joe Harper and Huck
Finn up an alley eating a stolen melon. Poor lads!
they -- like Tom -- had suffered a relapse.
AT last the sleepy atmosphere was stirred --
and vigorously: the murder trial came on
in the court. It became the absorbing
topic of village talk immediately. Tom
could not get away from it. Every reference
to the murder sent a shudder to
his heart, for his troubled conscience and fears almost
persuaded him that these remarks were put forth in his
hearing as "feelers"; he did not see how he could be
suspected of knowing anything about the murder, but
still he could not be comfortable in the midst of this
gossip. It kept him in a cold shiver all the time. He
took Huck to a lonely place to have a talk with him.
It would be some relief to unseal his tongue for a little
while; to divide his burden of distress with another sufferer.
Moreover, he wanted to assure himself that
Huck had remained discreet.
"Huck, have you ever told anybody about -- that?"
"You know what."
"Oh -- 'course I haven't."
"Never a word?"
"Never a solitary word, so help me. What makes
"Well, I was afeard."
"Why, Tom Sawyer, we wouldn't be alive two days
if that got found out. YOU know that."
Tom felt more comfortable. After a pause:
"Huck, they couldn't anybody get you to tell, could
"Get me to tell? Why, if I wanted that half-breed
devil to drownd me they could get me to tell. They
ain't no different way."
"Well, that's all right, then. I reckon we're safe
as long as we keep mum. But let's swear again, anyway.
It's more surer."
So they swore again with dread solemnities.
"What is the talk around, Huck? I've heard a
power of it."
"Talk? Well, it's just Muff Potter, Muff Potter,
Muff Potter all the time. It keeps me in a sweat, constant,
so's I want to hide som'ers."
"That's just the same way they go on round me.
I reckon he's a goner. Don't you feel sorry for him,
"Most always -- most always. He ain't no account;
but then he hain't ever done anything to hurt anybody.
Just fishes a little, to get money to get drunk on -- and
loafs around considerable; but lord, we all do that --
leastways most of us -- preachers and such like. But
he's kind of good -- he give me half a fish, once, when
there warn't enough for two; and lots of times he's kind
of stood by me when I was out of luck."
"Well, he's mended kites for me, Huck, and knitted
hooks on to my line. I wish we could get him out of
"My! we couldn't get him out, Tom. And besides,
'twouldn't do any good; they'd ketch him again."
"Yes -- so they would. But I hate to hear 'em abuse
him so like the dickens when he never done -- that."
"I do too, Tom. Lord, I hear 'em say he's the
bloodiest looking villain in this country, and they wonder
he wasn't ever hung before."
"Yes, they talk like that, all the time. I've heard
'em say that if he was to get free they'd lynch him."
"And they'd do it, too."
The boys had a long talk, but it brought them little
comfort. As the twilight drew on, they found themselves
hanging about the neighborhood of the little
isolated jail, perhaps with an undefined hope that
something would happen that might clear away their
difficulties. But nothing happened; there seemed to
be no angels or fairies interested in this luckless
The boys did as they had often done before -- went
to the cell grating and gave Potter some tobacco and
matches. He was on the ground floor and there were
His gratitude for their gifts had always smote their
consciences before -- it cut deeper than ever, this time.
They felt cowardly and treacherous to the last degree
when Potter said:
"You've been mighty good to me, boys -- better'n anybody
else in this town. And I don't forget it, I don't.
Often I says to myself, says I, 'I used to mend all the
boys' kites and things, and show 'em where the good
fishin' places was, and befriend 'em what I could, and
now they've all forgot old Muff when he's in trouble;
but Tom don't, and Huck don't -- THEY don't forget him,
says I, 'and I don't forget them.' Well, boys, I done
an awful thing -- drunk and crazy at the time -- that's
the only way I account for it -- and now I got to swing
for it, and it's right. Right, and BEST, too, I reckon --
hope so, anyway. Well, we won't talk about that. I
don't want to make YOU feel bad; you've befriended me.
But what I want to say, is, don't YOU ever get drunk --
then you won't ever get here. Stand a litter furder west
-- so -- that's it; it's a prime comfort to see faces that's
friendly when a body's in such a muck of trouble, and
there don't none come here but yourn. Good friendly
faces -- good friendly faces. Git up on one another's
backs and let me touch 'em. That's it. Shake hands
-- yourn'll come through the bars, but mine's too big.
Little hands, and weak -- but they've helped Muff
Potter a power, and they'd help him more if they
Tom went home miserable, and his dreams that
night were full of horrors. The next day and the day
after, he hung about the court-room, drawn by an almost
irresistible impulse to go in, but forcing himself
to stay out. Huck was having the same experience.
They studiously avoided each other. Each wandered
away, from time to time, but the same dismal fascination
always brought them back presently. Tom kept
his ears open when idlers sauntered out of the courtroom,
but invariably heard distressing news -- the toils
were closing more and more relentlessly around poor
Potter. At the end of the second day the village talk
was to the effect that Injun Joe's evidence stood firm
and unshaken, and that there was not the slightest question
as to what the jury's verdict would be.
Tom was out late, that night, and came to bed through
the window. He was in a tremendous state of excitement.
It was hours before he got to sleep. All the
village flocked to the court-house the next morning, for
this was to be the great day. Both sexes were about
equally represented in the packed audience. After a
long wait the jury filed in and took their places; shortly
afterward, Potter, pale and haggard, timid and hopeless,
was brought in, with chains upon him, and seated where
all the curious eyes could stare at him; no less conspicuous
was Injun Joe, stolid as ever. There was another
pause, and then the judge arrived and the sheriff
proclaimed the opening of the court. The usual whisperings
among the lawyers and gathering together of
papers followed. These details and accompanying
delays worked up an atmosphere of preparation that
was as impressive as it was fascinating.
Now a witness was called who testified that he found
Muff Potter washing in the brook, at an early hour of
the morning that the murder was discovered, and that
he immediately sneaked away. After some further questioning,
counsel for the prosecution said:
"Take the witness."
The prisoner raised his eyes for a moment, but
dropped them again when his own counsel said:
"I have no questions to ask him."
The next witness proved the finding of the knife
near the corpse. Counsel for the prosecution said:
"Take the witness."
"I have no questions to ask him," Potter's lawyer
A third witness swore he had often seen the knife in
"Take the witness."
Counsel for Potter declined to question him. The
faces of the audience began to betray annoyance.
Did this attorney mean to throw away his client's life
without an effort?
Several witnesses deposed concerning Potter's guilty
behavior when brought to the scene of the murder.
They were allowed to leave the stand without being
Every detail of the damaging circumstances that
occurred in the graveyard upon that morning which
all present remembered so well was brought out by
credible witnesses, but none of them were crossexamined
by Potter's lawyer. The perplexity and
dissatisfaction of the house expressed itself in murmurs
and provoked a reproof from the bench. Counsel
for the prosecution now said:
"By the oaths of citizens whose simple word is
above suspicion, we have fastened this awful crime,
beyond all possibility of question, upon the unhappy
prisoner at the bar. We rest our case here."
A groan escaped from poor Potter, and he put his
face in his hands and rocked his body softly to and
fro, while a painful silence reigned in the court-room.
Many men were moved, and many women's compassion
testified itself in tears. Counsel for the defence
rose and said:
"Your honor, in our remarks at the opening of this
trial, we foreshadowed our purpose to prove that our
client did this fearful deed while under the influence
of a blind and irresponsible delirium produced by drink.
We have changed our mind. We shall not offer that
plea." [Then to the clerk:] "Call Thomas Sawyer!"
A puzzled amazement awoke in every face in the
house, not even excepting Potter's. Every eye fastened
itself with wondering interest upon Tom as he
rose and took his place upon the stand. The boy
looked wild enough, for he was badly scared. The
oath was administered.
"Thomas Sawyer, where were you on the seventeenth
of June, about the hour of midnight?"
Tom glanced at Injun Joe's iron face and his tongue
failed him. The audience listened breathless, but the
words refused to come. After a few moments, however,
the boy got a little of his strength back, and managed
to put enough of it into his voice to make part of the
"In the graveyard!"
"A little bit louder, please. Don't be afraid. You
"In the graveyard."
A contemptuous smile flitted across Injun Joe's face.
"Were you anywhere near Horse Williams' grave?"
"Speak up -- just a trifle louder. How near were
"Near as I am to you."
"Were you hidden, or not?"
"I was hid."
"Behind the elms that's on the edge of the grave."
Injun Joe gave a barely perceptible start.
"Any one with you?"
"Yes, sir. I went there with --"
"Wait -- wait a moment. Never mind mentioning
your companion's name. We will produce him at the
proper time. Did you carry anything there with you."
Tom hesitated and looked confused.
"Speak out, my boy -- don't be diffident. The truth
is always respectable. What did you take there?"
"Only a -- a -- dead cat."
There was a ripple of mirth, which the court checked.
"We will produce the skeleton of that cat. Now,
my boy, tell us everything that occurred -- tell it in
your own way -- don't skip anything, and don't be
Tom began -- hesitatingly at first, but as he warmed
to his subject his words flowed more and more easily;
in a little while every sound ceased but his own voice;
every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and
bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking
no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the
tale. The strain upon pent emotion reached its climax
when the boy said:
"-- and as the doctor fetched the board around and
Muff Potter fell, Injun Joe jumped with the knife
Crash! Quick as lightning the half-breed sprang
for a window, tore his way through all opposers, and
TOM was a glittering hero once more -- the
pet of the old, the envy of the young.
His name even went into immortal print,
for the village paper magnified him.
There were some that believed he would
be President, yet, if he escaped hanging.
As usual, the fickle, unreasoning world took Muff
Potter to its bosom and fondled him as lavishly as it
had abused him before. But that sort of conduct is
to the world's credit; therefore it is not well to find
fault with it.
Tom's days were days of splendor and exultation
to him, but his nights were seasons of horror. Injun
Joe infested all his dreams, and always with doom
in his eye. Hardly any temptation could persuade
the boy to stir abroad after nightfall. Poor Huck
was in the same state of wretchedness and terror, for
Tom had told the whole story to the lawyer the night
before the great day of the trial, and Huck was sore
afraid that his share in the business might leak out,
yet, notwithstanding Injun Joe's flight had saved
him the suffering of testifying in court. The poor
fellow had got the attorney to promise secrecy, but
what of that? Since Tom's harassed conscience had
managed to drive him to the lawyer's house by night
and wring a dread tale from lips that had been sealed
with the dismalest and most formidable of oaths,
Huck's confidence in the human race was well-nigh
Daily Muff Potter's gratitude made Tom glad he
had spoken; but nightly he wished he had sealed up
Half the time Tom was afraid Injun Joe would
never be captured; the other half he was afraid he
would be. He felt sure he never could draw a safe
breath again until that man was dead and he had
seen the corpse.
Rewards had been offered, the country had been
scoured, but no Injun Joe was found. One of those
omniscient and awe-inspiring marvels, a detective,
came up from St. Louis, moused around, shook his
head, looked wise, and made that sort of astounding
success which members of that craft usually achieve.
That is to say, he "found a clew." But you can't
hang a "clew" for murder, and so after that detective
had got through and gone home, Tom felt just
as insecure as he was before.
The slow days drifted on, and each left behind it
a slightly lightened weight of apprehension.
THERE comes a time in every rightlyconstructed
boy's life when he has a
raging desire to go somewhere and dig
for hidden treasure. This desire suddenly
came upon Tom one day. He sallied
out to find Joe Harper, but failed
of success. Next he sought Ben Rogers; he had gone
fishing. Presently he stumbled upon Huck Finn the
Red-Handed. Huck would answer. Tom took him to
a private place and opened the matter to him confidentially.
Huck was willing. Huck was always willing
to take a hand in any enterprise that offered entertainment
and required no capital, for he had a troublesome
superabundance of that sort of time which is
not money. "Where'll we dig?" said Huck.
"Oh, most anywhere."
"Why, is it hid all around?"
"No, indeed it ain't. It's hid in mighty particular
places, Huck -- sometimes on islands, sometimes in rotten
chests under the end of a limb of an old dead tree,
just where the shadow falls at midnight; but mostly
under the floor in ha'nted houses."
"Who hides it?"
"Why, robbers, of course -- who'd you reckon? Sunday
"I don't know. If 'twas mine I wouldn't hide it;
I'd spend it and have a good time."
"So would I. But robbers don't do that way. They
always hide it and leave it there."
"Don't they come after it any more?"
"No, they think they will, but they generally forget
the marks, or else they die. Anyway, it lays there a
long time and gets rusty; and by and by somebody
finds an old yellow paper that tells how to find the
marks -- a paper that's got to be ciphered over about a
week because it's mostly signs and hy'roglyphics."
"Hy'roglyphics -- pictures and things, you know, that
don't seem to mean anything."
"Have you got one of them papers, Tom?"
"Well then, how you going to find the marks?"
"I don't want any marks. They always bury it
under a ha'nted house or on an island, or under a
dead tree that's got one limb sticking out. Well,
we've tried Jackson's Island a little, and we can try
it again some time; and there's the old ha'nted house
up the Still-House branch, and there's lots of deadlimb
trees -- dead loads of 'em."
"Is it under all of them?"
"How you talk! No!"
"Then how you going to know which one to go for?"
"Go for all of 'em!"
"Why, Tom, it'll take all summer."
"Well, what of that? Suppose you find a brass
pot with a hundred dollars in it, all rusty and gray, or
rotten chest full of di'monds. How's that?"
Huck's eyes glowed.
"That's bully. Plenty bully enough for me. Just
you gimme the hundred dollars and I don't want no
"All right. But I bet you I ain't going to throw
off on di'monds. Some of 'em's worth twenty dollars
apiece -- there ain't any, hardly, but's worth six
bits or a dollar."
"No! Is that so?"
"Cert'nly -- anybody'll tell you so. Hain't you ever
seen one, Huck?"
"Not as I remember."
"Oh, kings have slathers of them."
"Well, I don' know no kings, Tom."
"I reckon you don't. But if you was to go to
Europe you'd see a raft of 'em hopping around."
"Do they hop?"
"Hop? -- your granny! No!"
"Well, what did you say they did, for?"
"Shucks, I only meant you'd SEE 'em -- not hopping,
of course -- what do they want to hop for? -- but I mean
you'd just see 'em -- scattered around, you know, in a
kind of a general way. Like that old humpbacked
"Richard? What's his other name?"
"He didn't have any other name. Kings don't
have any but a given name."
"But they don't."
"Well, if they like it, Tom, all right; but I don't want
to be a king and have only just a given name, like a
nigger. But say -- where you going to dig first?"
"Well, I don't know. S'pose we tackle that old
dead-limb tree on the hill t'other side of Still-House
So they got a crippled pick and a shovel, and set
out on their three-mile tramp. They arrived hot and
panting, and threw themselves down in the shade of a
neighboring elm to rest and have a smoke.
"I like this," said Tom.
"So do I."
"Say, Huck, if we find a treasure here, what you
going to do with your share?"
"Well, I'll have pie and a glass of soda every day,
and I'll go to every circus that comes along. I bet I'll
have a gay time."
"Well, ain't you going to save any of it?"
"Save it? What for?"
"Why, so as to have something to live on, by and
"Oh, that ain't any use. Pap would come back to
thish-yer town some day and get his claws on it if I
didn't hurry up, and I tell you he'd clean it out pretty
quick. What you going to do with yourn, Tom?"
"I'm going to buy a new drum, and a sure-'nough
sword, and a red necktie and a bull pup, and get married."
"Tom, you -- why, you ain't in your right mind."
"Wait -- you'll see."
"Well, that's the foolishest thing you could do.
Look at pap and my mother. Fight! Why, they used
to fight all the time. I remember, mighty well."
"That ain't anything. The girl I'm going to marry
"Tom, I reckon they're all alike. They'll all comb
a body. Now you better think 'bout this awhile. I
tell you you better. What's the name of the gal?"
"It ain't a gal at all -- it's a girl."
"It's all the same, I reckon; some says gal, some
says girl -- both's right, like enough. Anyway, what's
her name, Tom?"
"I'll tell you some time -- not now."
"All right -- that'll do. Only if you get married I'll
be more lonesomer than ever."
"No you won't. You'll come and live with me.
Now stir out of this and we'll go to digging."
They worked and sweated for half an hour. No
result. They toiled another half-hour. Still no result.
"Do they always bury it as deep as this?"
"Sometimes -- not always. Not generally. I reckon
we haven't got the right place."
So they chose a new spot and began again. The
labor dragged a little, but still they made progress.
They pegged away in silence for some time. Finally
Huck leaned on his shovel, swabbed the beaded drops
from his brow with his sleeve, and said:
"Where you going to dig next, after we get this
"I reckon maybe we'll tackle the old tree that's
over yonder on Cardiff Hill back of the widow's."
"I reckon that'll be a good one. But won't the
widow take it away from us, Tom? It's on her land."
"SHE take it away! Maybe she'd like to try it once.
Whoever finds one of these hid treasures, it belongs
to him. It don't make any difference whose land
That was satisfactory. The work went on. By
and by Huck said:
"Blame it, we must be in the wrong place again.
What do you think?"
"It is mighty curious, Huck. I don't understand it.
Sometimes witches interfere. I reckon maybe that's
what's the trouble now."
"Shucks! Witches ain't got no power in the daytime."
"Well, that's so. I didn't think of that. Oh, I
know what the matter is! What a blamed lot of fools
we are! You got to find out where the shadow of the
limb falls at midnight, and that's where you dig!"
"Then consound it, we've fooled away all this work
for nothing. Now hang it all, we got to come back
in the night. It's an awful long way. Can you get
"I bet I will. We've got to do it to-night, too, because
if somebody sees these holes they'll know in a
minute what's here and they'll go for it."
"Well, I'll come around and maow to-night."
"All right. Let's hide the tools in the bushes."
The boys were there that night, about the appointed
time. They sat in the shadow waiting. It was a
lonely place, and an hour made solemn by old traditions.
Spirits whispered in the rustling leaves, ghosts lurked
in the murky nooks, the deep baying of a hound floated
up out of the distance, an owl answered with his
sepulchral note. The boys were subdued by these
solemnities, and talked little. By and by they judged
that twelve had come; they marked where the shadow
fell, and began to dig. Their hopes commenced to rise.
Their interest grew stronger, and their industry kept
pace with it. The hole deepened and still deepened,
but every time their hearts jumped to hear the pick
strike upon something, they only suffered a new disappointment.
It was only a stone or a chunk. At last
"It ain't any use, Huck, we're wrong again."
"Well, but we CAN'T be wrong. We spotted the
shadder to a dot."
"I know it, but then there's another thing."
"Why, we only guessed at the time. Like enough
it was too late or too early."
Huck dropped his shovel.
"That's it," said he. "That's the very trouble.
We got to give this one up. We can't ever tell the
right time, and besides this kind of thing's too awful,
here this time of night with witches and ghosts a-fluttering
around so. I feel as if something's behind
me all the time; and I'm afeard to turn around,
becuz maybe there's others in front a-waiting for a
chance. I been creeping all over, ever since I got
"Well, I've been pretty much so, too, Huck. They
most always put in a dead man when they bury a
treasure under a tree, to look out for it."
"Yes, they do. I've always heard that."
"Tom, I don't like to fool around much where
there's dead people. A body's bound to get into
trouble with 'em, sure."
"I don't like to stir 'em up, either. S'pose this one
here was to stick his skull out and say something!"
"Don't Tom! It's awful."
"Well, it just is. Huck, I don't feel comfortable
"Say, Tom, let's give this place up, and try somewheres
"All right, I reckon we better."
"What'll it be?"
Tom considered awhile; and then said:
"The ha'nted house. That's it!"
"Blame it, I don't like ha'nted houses, Tom. Why,
they're a dern sight worse'n dead people. Dead people
might talk, maybe, but they don't come sliding around
in a shroud, when you ain't noticing, and peep over
your shoulder all of a sudden and grit their teeth, the
way a ghost does. I couldn't stand such a thing as that,
Tom -- nobody could."
"Yes, but, Huck, ghosts don't travel around only
at night. They won't hender us from digging there in
"Well, that's so. But you know mighty well people
don't go about that ha'nted house in the day nor the
"Well, that's mostly because they don't like to go
where a man's been murdered, anyway -- but nothing's
ever been seen around that house except in the night --
just some blue lights slipping by the windows -- no
"Well, where you see one of them blue lights flickering
around, Tom, you can bet there's a ghost mighty
close behind it. It stands to reason. Becuz you know
that they don't anybody but ghosts use 'em."
"Yes, that's so. But anyway they don't come
around in the daytime, so what's the use of our being
"Well, all right. We'll tackle the ha'nted house
if you say so -- but I reckon it's taking chances."
They had started down the hill by this time. There
in the middle of the moonlit valley below them stood
the "ha'nted" house, utterly isolated, its fences gone
long ago, rank weeds smothering the very doorsteps,
the chimney crumbled to ruin, the window-sashes
vacant, a corner of the roof caved in. The boys gazed
awhile, half expecting to see a blue light flit past a
window; then talking in a low tone, as befitted the time
and the circumstances, they struck far off to the right,
to give the haunted house a wide berth, and took their
way homeward through the woods that adorned the
rearward side of Cardiff Hill.
ABOUT noon the next day the boys arrived
at the dead tree; they had come
for their tools. Tom was impatient
to go to the haunted house; Huck
was measurably so, also -- but suddenly
"Lookyhere, Tom, do you know what day it is?"
Tom mentally ran over the days of the week, and
then quickly lifted his eyes with a startled look in
"My! I never once thought of it, Huck!"
"Well, I didn't neither, but all at once it popped
onto me that it was Friday."
"Blame it, a body can't be too careful, Huck. We
might 'a' got into an awful scrape, tackling such a thing
on a Friday."
"MIGHT! Better say we WOULD! There's some lucky
days, maybe, but Friday ain't."
"Any fool knows that. I don't reckon YOU was the
first that found it out, Huck."
"Well, I never said I was, did I? And Friday ain't
all, neither. I had a rotten bad dream last night --
dreampt about rats."
"No! Sure sign of trouble. Did they fight?"
"Well, that's good, Huck. When they don't fight
it's only a sign that there's trouble around, you know.
All we got to do is to look mighty sharp and keep out of
it. We'll drop this thing for to-day, and play. Do
you know Robin Hood, Huck?"
"No. Who's Robin Hood?"
"Why, he was one of the greatest men that was
ever in England -- and the best. He was a robber."
"Cracky, I wisht I was. Who did he rob?"
"Only sheriffs and bishops and rich people and kings,
and such like. But he never bothered the poor. He
loved 'em. He always divided up with 'em perfectly
"Well, he must 'a' been a brick."
"I bet you he was, Huck. Oh, he was the noblest
man that ever was. They ain't any such men now, I
can tell you. He could lick any man in England, with
one hand tied behind him; and he could take his yew
bow and plug a ten-cent piece every time, a mile and a
"What's a YEW bow?"
"I don't know. It's some kind of a bow, of course.
And if he hit that dime only on the edge he would set
down and cry -- and curse. But we'll play Robin Hood
-- it's nobby fun. I'll learn you."
So they played Robin Hood all the afternoon, now
and then casting a yearning eye down upon the haunted
house and passing a remark about the morrow's prospects
and possibilities there. As the sun began to sink
into the west they took their way homeward athwart the
long shadows of the trees and soon were buried from
sight in the forests of Cardiff Hill.
On Saturday, shortly after noon, the boys were
at the dead tree again. They had a smoke and a
chat in the shade, and then dug a little in their last
hole, not with great hope, but merely because Tom
said there were so many cases where people had given
up a treasure after getting down within six inches of it,
and then somebody else had come along and turned
it up with a single thrust of a shovel. The thing failed
this time, however, so the boys shouldered their tools
and went away feeling that they had not trifled with
fortune, but had fulfilled all the requirements that belong
to the business of treasure-hunting.
When they reached the haunted house there was
something so weird and grisly about the dead silence
that reigned there under the baking sun, and something
so depressing about the loneliness and desolation
of the place, that they were afraid, for a moment,
to venture in. Then they crept to the door and
took a trembling peep. They saw a weed-grown,
floorless room, unplastered, an ancient fireplace, vacant
windows, a ruinous staircase; and here, there,
and everywhere hung ragged and abandoned cobwebs.
They presently entered, softly, with quickened pulses,
talking in whispers, ears alert to catch the slightest
sound, and muscles tense and ready for instant retreat.
In a little while familiarity modified their fears and
they gave the place a critical and interested examination,
rather admiring their own boldness, and wondering
at it, too. Next they wanted to look up-stairs.
This was something like cutting off retreat, but they got
to daring each other, and of course there could be but
one result -- they threw their tools into a corner and made
the ascent. Up there were the same signs of decay.
In one corner they found a closet that promised mystery,
but the promise was a fraud -- there was nothing in it.
Their courage was up now and well in hand. They
were about to go down and begin work when --
"Sh!" said Tom.
"What is it?" whispered Huck, blanching with fright.
"Sh! ... There! ... Hear it?"
"Yes! ... Oh, my! Let's run!"
"Keep still! Don't you budge! They're coming
right toward the door."
The boys stretched themselves upon the floor with
their eyes to knot-holes in the planking, and lay waiting,
in a misery of fear.
"They've stopped.... No -- coming.... Here they
are. Don't whisper another word, Huck. My goodness,
I wish I was out of this!"
Two men entered. Each boy said to himself:
"There's the old deaf and dumb Spaniard that's been
about town once or twice lately -- never saw t'other
"T'other" was a ragged, unkempt creature, with
nothing very pleasant in his face. The Spaniard was
wrapped in a serape; he had bushy white whiskers; long
white hair flowed from under his sombrero, and he
wore green goggles. When they came in, "t'other" was
talking in a low voice; they sat down on the ground,
facing the door, with their backs to the wall, and the
speaker continued his remarks. His manner became
less guarded and his words more distinct as he proceeded:
"No," said he, "I've thought it all over, and I don't
like it. It's dangerous."
"Dangerous!" grunted the "deaf and dumb" Spaniard
-- to the vast surprise of the boys. "Milksop!"
This voice made the boys gasp and quake. It was
Injun Joe's! There was silence for some time. Then
"What's any more dangerous than that job up yonder
-- but nothing's come of it."
"That's different. Away up the river so, and not
another house about. 'Twon't ever be known that we
tried, anyway, long as we didn't succeed."
"Well, what's more dangerous than coming here in
the daytime! -- anybody would suspicion us that saw us."
"I know that. But there warn't any other place as
handy after that fool of a job. I want to quit this
shanty. I wanted to yesterday, only it warn't any use
trying to stir out of here, with those infernal boys playing
over there on the hill right in full view."
"Those infernal boys" quaked again under the inspiration
of this remark, and thought how lucky it was
that they had remembered it was Friday and concluded
to wait a day. They wished in their hearts they had
waited a year.
The two men got out some food and made a luncheon.
After a long and thoughtful silence, Injun Joe said:
"Look here, lad -- you go back up the river where
you belong. Wait there till you hear from me. I'll
take the chances on dropping into this town just once
more, for a look. We'll do that 'dangerous' job after
I've spied around a little and think things look well for
it. Then for Texas! We'll leg it together!"
This was satisfactory. Both men presently fell to
yawning, and Injun Joe said:
"I'm dead for sleep! It's your turn to watch."
He curled down in the weeds and soon began to
snore. His comrade stirred him once or twice and he
became quiet. Presently the watcher began to nod;
his head drooped lower and lower, both men began to
The boys drew a long, grateful breath. Tom whispered:
"Now's our chance -- come!"
"I can't -- I'd die if they was to wake."
Tom urged -- Huck held back. At last Tom rose
slowly and softly, and started alone. But the first
step he made wrung such a hideous creak from the
crazy floor that he sank down almost dead with fright.
He never made a second attempt. The boys lay there
counting the dragging moments till it seemed to them
that time must be done and eternity growing gray; and
then they were grateful to note that at last the sun was
Now one snore ceased. Injun Joe sat up, stared
around -- smiled grimly upon his comrade, whose head
was drooping upon his knees -- stirred him up with his
foot and said:
"Here! YOU'RE a watchman, ain't you! All right,
though -- nothing's happened."
"My! have I been asleep?"
"Oh, partly, partly. Nearly time for us to be moving,
pard. What'll we do with what little swag we've
"I don't know -- leave it here as we've always done,
I reckon. No use to take it away till we start
south. Six hundred and fifty in silver's something to
"Well -- all right -- it won't matter to come here once
"No -- but I'd say come in the night as we used to do
-- it's better."
"Yes: but look here; it may be a good while before
I get the right chance at that job; accidents might happen;
'tain't in such a very good place; we'll just regularly
bury it -- and bury it deep."
"Good idea," said the comrade, who walked across
the room, knelt down, raised one of the rearward hearthstones
and took out a bag that jingled pleasantly. He
subtracted from it twenty or thirty dollars for himself
and as much for Injun Joe, and passed the bag to the
latter, who was on his knees in the corner, now, digging
with his bowie-knife.
The boys forgot all their fears, all their miseries
in an instant. With gloating eyes they watched every
movement. Luck! -- the splendor of it was beyond all
imagination! Six hundred dollars was money enough
to make half a dozen boys rich! Here was treasurehunting
under the happiest auspices -- there would not
be any bothersome uncertainty as to where to dig.
They nudged each other every moment -- eloquent
nudges and easily understood, for they simply meant --
"Oh, but ain't you glad NOW we're here!"
Joe's knife struck upon something.
"Hello!" said he.
"What is it?" said his comrade.
"Half-rotten plank -- no, it's a box, I believe. Here --
bear a hand and we'll see what it's here for. Never
mind, I've broke a hole."
He reached his hand in and drew it out --
"Man, it's money!"
The two men examined the handful of coins. They
were gold. The boys above were as excited as themselves,
and as delighted.
Joe's comrade said:
"We'll make quick work of this. There's an old
rusty pick over amongst the weeds in the corner the
other side of the fireplace -- I saw it a minute ago."
He ran and brought the boys' pick and shovel. Injun
Joe took the pick, looked it over critically, shook his
head, muttered something to himself, and then began
to use it. The box was soon unearthed. It was not
very large; it was iron bound and had been very strong
before the slow years had injured it. The men contemplated
the treasure awhile in blissful silence.
"Pard, there's thousands of dollars here," said Injun
"'Twas always said that Murrel's gang used to be
around here one summer," the stranger observed.
"I know it," said Injun Joe; "and this looks like it,
I should say."
"Now you won't need to do that job."
The half-breed frowned. Said he:
"You don't know me. Least you don't know all
about that thing. 'Tain't robbery altogether -- it's
REVENGE!" and a wicked light flamed in his eyes. "I'll
need your help in it. When it's finished -- then Texas.
Go home to your Nance and your kids, and stand by
till you hear from me."
"Well -- if you say so; what'll we do with this -- bury
"Yes. [Ravishing delight overhead.] NO! by the
great Sachem, no! [Profound distress overhead.] I'd
nearly forgot. That pick had fresh earth on it! [The
boys were sick with terror in a moment.] What business
has a pick and a shovel here? What business with
fresh earth on them? Who brought them here -- and
where are they gone? Have you heard anybody? --
seen anybody? What! bury it again and leave them to
come and see the ground disturbed? Not exactly -- not
exactly. We'll take it to my den."
"Why, of course! Might have thought of that before.
You mean Number One?"
"No -- Number Two -- under the cross. The other
place is bad -- too common."
"All right. It's nearly dark enough to start."
Injun Joe got up and went about from window to
window cautiously peeping out. Presently he said:
"Who could have brought those tools here? Do
you reckon they can be up-stairs?"
The boys' breath forsook them. Injun Joe put his
hand on his knife, halted a moment, undecided, and
then turned toward the stairway. The boys thought
of the closet, but their strength was gone. The steps
came creaking up the stairs -- the intolerable distress
of the situation woke the stricken resolution of the lads
-- they were about to spring for the closet, when there
was a crash of rotten timbers and Injun Joe landed on
the ground amid the debris of the ruined stairway. He
gathered himself up cursing, and his comrade said:
"Now what's the use of all that? If it's anybody,
and they're up there, let them STAY there -- who cares?
If they want to jump down, now, and get into trouble,
who objects? It will be dark in fifteen minutes -- and
then let them follow us if they want to. I'm willing.
In my opinion, whoever hove those things in here caught
a sight of us and took us for ghosts or devils or something.
I'll bet they're running yet."
Joe grumbled awhile; then he agreed with his friend
that what daylight was left ought to be economized in
getting things ready for leaving. Shortly afterward
they slipped out of the house in the deepening twilight,
and moved toward the river with their precious box.
Tom and Huck rose up, weak but vastly relieved,
and stared after them through the chinks between the
logs of the house. Follow? Not they. They were
content to reach ground again without broken necks,
and take the townward track over the hill. They did
not talk much. They were too much absorbed in hating
themselves -- hating the ill luck that made them take
the spade and the pick there. But for that, Injun Joe
never would have suspected. He would have hidden
the silver with the gold to wait there till his "revenge"
was satisfied, and then he would have had the misfortune
to find that money turn up missing. Bitter,
bitter luck that the tools were ever brought there!
They resolved to keep a lookout for that Spaniard
when he should come to town spying out for chances
to do his revengeful job, and follow him to "Number
Two," wherever that might be. Then a ghastly thought
occurred to Tom.
"Revenge? What if he means US, Huck!"
"Oh, don't!" said Huck, nearly fainting.
They talked it all over, and as they entered town they
agreed to believe that he might possibly mean somebody
else -- at least that he might at least mean nobody but
Tom, since only Tom had testified.
Very, very small comfort it was to Tom to be alone
in danger! Company would be a palpable improvement,
THE adventure of the day mightily tormented
Tom's dreams that night. Four
times he had his hands on that rich
treasure and four times it wasted to
nothingness in his fingers as sleep forsook
him and wakefulness brought back
the hard reality of his misfortune. As he lay in the
early morning recalling the incidents of his great adventure,
he noticed that they seemed curiously subdued
and far away -- somewhat as if they had happened in
another world, or in a time long gone by. Then it occurred
to him that the great adventure itself must be
a dream! There was one very strong argument in favor
of this idea -- namely, that the quantity of coin he had
seen was too vast to be real. He had never seen as
much as fifty dollars in one mass before, and he was
like all boys of his age and station in life, in that he
imagined that all references to "hundreds" and "thousands"
were mere fanciful forms of speech, and that
no such sums really existed in the world. He never had
supposed for a moment that so large a sum as a hundred
dollars was to be found in actual money in any
one's possession. If his notions of hidden treasure had
been analyzed, they would have been found to consist of
a handful of real dimes and a bushel of vague, splendid,
But the incidents of his adventure grew sensibly
sharper and clearer under the attrition of thinking them
over, and so he presently found himself leaning to the
impression that the thing might not have been a dream,
after all. This uncertainty must be swept away. He
would snatch a hurried breakfast and go and find Huck.
Huck was sitting on the gunwale of a flatboat, listlessly
dangling his feet in the water and looking very
melancholy. Tom concluded to let Huck lead up to
the subject. If he did not do it, then the adventure
would be proved to have been only a dream.
Silence, for a minute.
"Tom, if we'd 'a' left the blame tools at the dead
tree, we'd 'a' got the money. Oh, ain't it awful!"
"'Tain't a dream, then, 'tain't a dream! Somehow
I most wish it was. Dog'd if I don't, Huck."
"What ain't a dream?"
"Oh, that thing yesterday. I been half thinking
"Dream! If them stairs hadn't broke down you'd
'a' seen how much dream it was! I've had dreams
enough all night -- with that patch-eyed Spanish devil
going for me all through 'em -- rot him!"
"No, not rot him. FIND him! Track the money!"
"Tom, we'll never find him. A feller don't have
only one chance for such a pile -- and that one's lost.
I'd feel mighty shaky if I was to see him, anyway."
"Well, so'd I; but I'd like to see him, anyway --
and track him out -- to his Number Two."
"Number Two -- yes, that's it. I been thinking
'bout that. But I can't make nothing out of it. What
do you reckon it is?"
"I dono. It's too deep. Say, Huck -- maybe it's
the number of a house!"
"Goody! ... No, Tom, that ain't it. If it is, it ain't
in this one-horse town. They ain't no numbers here."
"Well, that's so. Lemme think a minute. Here --
it's the number of a room -- in a tavern, you know!"
"Oh, that's the trick! They ain't only two taverns.
We can find out quick."
"You stay here, Huck, till I come."
Tom was off at once. He did not care to have
Huck's company in public places. He was gone half
an hour. He found that in the best tavern, No. 2
had long been occupied by a young lawyer, and was
still so occupied. In the less ostentatious house, No. 2
was a mystery. The tavern-keeper's young son said
it was kept locked all the time, and he never saw anybody
go into it or come out of it except at night; he
did not know any particular reason for this state of
things; had had some little curiosity, but it was rather
feeble; had made the most of the mystery by entertaining
himself with the idea that that room was
"ha'nted"; had noticed that there was a light in there
the night before.
"That's what I've found out, Huck. I reckon
that's the very No. 2 we're after."
"I reckon it is, Tom. Now what you going to do?"
Tom thought a long time. Then he said:
"I'll tell you. The back door of that No. 2 is
the door that comes out into that little close alley
between the tavern and the old rattle trap of a brick
store. Now you get hold of all the door-keys you
can find, and I'll nip all of auntie's, and the first dark
night we'll go there and try 'em. And mind you,
keep a lookout for Injun Joe, because he said he was
going to drop into town and spy around once more
for a chance to get his revenge. If you see him, you
just follow him; and if he don't go to that No. 2,
that ain't the place."
"Lordy, I don't want to foller him by myself!"
"Why, it'll be night, sure. He mightn't ever see
you -- and if he did, maybe he'd never think anything."
"Well, if it's pretty dark I reckon I'll track him.
I dono -- I dono. I'll try."
"You bet I'll follow him, if it's dark, Huck. Why,
he might 'a' found out he couldn't get his revenge,
and be going right after that money."
"It's so, Tom, it's so. I'll foller him; I will, by
"Now you're TALKING! Don't you ever weaken,
Huck, and I won't."
THAT night Tom and Huck were ready
for their adventure. They hung about
the neighborhood of the tavern until
after nine, one watching the alley at a
distance and the other the tavern door.
Nobody entered the alley or left it; nobody
resembling the Spaniard entered or left the tavern
door. The night promised to be a fair one; so Tom
went home with the understanding that if a considerable
degree of darkness came on, Huck was to come
and "maow," whereupon he would slip out and try
the keys. But the night remained clear, and Huck
closed his watch and retired to bed in an empty sugar
hogshead about twelve.
Tuesday the boys had the same ill luck. Also
Wednesday. But Thursday night promised better.
Tom slipped out in good season with his aunt's old
tin lantern, and a large towel to blindfold it with.
He hid the lantern in Huck's sugar hogshead and the
watch began. An hour before midnight the tavern
closed up and its lights (the only ones thereabouts)
were put out. No Spaniard had been seen. Nobody
had entered or left the alley. Everything was auspicious.
The blackness of darkness reigned, the perfect
stillness was interrupted only by occasional mutterings
of distant thunder.
Tom got his lantern, lit it in the hogshead, wrapped
it closely in the towel, and the two adventurers crept
in the gloom toward the tavern. Huck stood sentry
and Tom felt his way into the alley. Then there was
a season of waiting anxiety that weighed upon Huck's
spirits like a mountain. He began to wish he could
see a flash from the lantern -- it would frighten him, but
it would at least tell him that Tom was alive yet. It
seemed hours since Tom had disappeared. Surely
he must have fainted; maybe he was dead; maybe
his heart had burst under terror and excitement. In
his uneasiness Huck found himself drawing closer
and closer to the alley; fearing all sorts of dreadful
things, and momentarily expecting some catastrophe
to happen that would take away his breath. There
was not much to take away, for he seemed only able
to inhale it by thimblefuls, and his heart would soon
wear itself out, the way it was beating. Suddenly
there was a flash of light and Tom came tearing by
"Run!" said he; "run, for your life!"
He needn't have repeated it; once was enough;
Huck was making thirty or forty miles an hour before
the repetition was uttered. The boys never stopped
till they reached the shed of a deserted slaughterhouse
at the lower end of the village. Just as they got
within its shelter the storm burst and the rain poured
down. As soon as Tom got his breath he said:
"Huck, it was awful! I tried two of the keys, just
as soft as I could; but they seemed to make such a
power of racket that I couldn't hardly get my breath
I was so scared. They wouldn't turn in the lock,
either. Well, without noticing what I was doing, I
took hold of the knob, and open comes the door! It
warn't locked! I hopped in, and shook off the towel,
and, GREAT CAESAR'S GHOST!"
"What! -- what'd you see, Tom?"
"Huck, I most stepped onto Injun Joe's hand!"
"Yes! He was lying there, sound asleep on the
floor, with his old patch on his eye and his arms spread
"Lordy, what did you do? Did he wake up?"
"No, never budged. Drunk, I reckon. I just
grabbed that towel and started!"
"I'd never 'a' thought of the towel, I bet!"
"Well, I would. My aunt would make me mighty
sick if I lost it."
"Say, Tom, did you see that box?"
"Huck, I didn't wait to look around. I didn't see
the box, I didn't see the cross. I didn't see anything
but a bottle and a tin cup on the floor by Injun Joe;
yes, I saw two barrels and lots more bottles in the
room. Don't you see, now, what's the matter with
that ha'nted room?"
"Why, it's ha'nted with whiskey! Maybe ALL the
Temperance Taverns have got a ha'nted room, hey,
"Well, I reckon maybe that's so. Who'd 'a' thought
such a thing? But say, Tom, now's a mighty good
time to get that box, if Injun Joe's drunk."
"It is, that! You try it!"
"Well, no -- I reckon not."
"And I reckon not, Huck. Only one bottle alongside
of Injun Joe ain't enough. If there'd been three,
he'd be drunk enough and I'd do it."
There was a long pause for reflection, and then
"Lookyhere, Huck, less not try that thing any
more till we know Injun Joe's not in there. It's too
scary. Now, if we watch every night, we'll be dead
sure to see him go out, some time or other, and then
we'll snatch that box quicker'n lightning."
"Well, I'm agreed. I'll watch the whole night long,
and I'll do it every night, too, if you'll do the other part
of the job."
"All right, I will. All you got to do is to trot up
Hooper Street a block and maow -- and if I'm asleep,
you throw some gravel at the window and that'll
"Agreed, and good as wheat!"
"Now, Huck, the storm's over, and I'll go home.
It'll begin to be daylight in a couple of hours. You go
back and watch that long, will you?"
"I said I would, Tom, and I will. I'll ha'nt that
tavern every night for a year! I'll sleep all day and
I'll stand watch all night."
"That's all right. Now, where you going to sleep?"
"In Ben Rogers' hayloft. He lets me, and so does
his pap's nigger man, Uncle Jake. I tote water for
Uncle Jake whenever he wants me to, and any time I
ask him he gives me a little something to eat if he
can spare it. That's a mighty good nigger, Tom. He
likes me, becuz I don't ever act as if I was above him.
Sometime I've set right down and eat WITH him. But
you needn't tell that. A body's got to do things when
he's awful hungry he wouldn't want to do as a steady
"Well, if I don't want you in the daytime, I'll let
you sleep. I won't come bothering around. Any
time you see something's up, in the night, just skip
right around and maow."
THE first thing Tom heard on Friday
morning was a glad piece of news --
Judge Thatcher's family had come back
to town the night before. Both Injun
Joe and the treasure sunk into secondary
importance for a moment, and Becky
took the chief place in the boy's interest. He saw her
and they had an exhausting good time playing "hispy"
and "gully-keeper" with a crowd of their schoolmates.
The day was completed and crowned in a peculiarly
satisfactory way: Becky teased her mother to
appoint the next day for the long-promised and longdelayed
picnic, and she consented. The child's delight
was boundless; and Tom's not more moderate. The
invitations were sent out before sunset, and straightway
the young folks of the village were thrown into a fever
of preparation and pleasurable anticipation. Tom's
excitement enabled him to keep awake until a pretty
late hour, and he had good hopes of hearing Huck's
"maow," and of having his treasure to astonish Becky
and the picnickers with, next day; but he was disappointed.
No signal came that night.
Morning came, eventually, and by ten or eleven
o'clock a giddy and rollicking company were gathered
at Judge Thatcher's, and everything was ready for a
start. It was not the custom for elderly people to
mar the picnics with their presence. The children
were considered safe enough under the wings of a
few young ladies of eighteen and a few young gentlemen
of twenty-three or thereabouts. The old steam ferryboat
was chartered for the occasion; presently the
gay throng filed up the main street laden with provisionbaskets.
Sid was sick and had to miss the fun; Mary
remained at home to entertain him. The last thing
Mrs. Thatcher said to Becky, was:
"You'll not get back till late. Perhaps you'd better
stay all night with some of the girls that live near the
"Then I'll stay with Susy Harper, mamma."
"Very well. And mind and behave yourself and
don't be any trouble."
Presently, as they tripped along, Tom said to Becky:
"Say -- I'll tell you what we'll do. 'Stead of going
to Joe Harper's we'll climb right up the hill and stop
at the Widow Douglas'. She'll have ice-cream! She
has it most every day -- dead loads of it. And she'll be
awful glad to have us."
"Oh, that will be fun!"
Then Becky reflected a moment and said:
"But what will mamma say?"
"How'll she ever know?"
The girl turned the idea over in her mind, and said
"I reckon it's wrong -- but --"
"But shucks! Your mother won't know, and so
what's the harm? All she wants is that you'll be safe;
and I bet you she'd 'a' said go there if she'd 'a' thought
of it. I know she would!"
The Widow Douglas' splendid hospitality was a
tempting bait. It and Tom's persuasions presently
carried the day. So it was decided to say nothing
anybody about the night's programme. Presently
it occurred to Tom that maybe Huck might come
this very night and give the signal. The thought took
a deal of the spirit out of his anticipations. Still he
could not bear to give up the fun at Widow Douglas'.
And why should he give it up, he reasoned -- the signal
did not come the night before, so why should it be any
more likely to come to-night? The sure fun of the
evening outweighed the uncertain treasure; and, boylike,
he determined to yield to the stronger inclination
and not allow himself to think of the box of money
another time that day.
Three miles below town the ferryboat stopped at
the mouth of a woody hollow and tied up. The
crowd swarmed ashore and soon the forest distances
and craggy heights echoed far and near with shoutings
and laughter. All the different ways of getting hot
and tired were gone through with, and by-and-by the
rovers straggled back to camp fortified with responsible
appetites, and then the destruction of the good things
began. After the feast there was a refreshing season
of rest and chat in the shade of spreading oaks. Byand
-by somebody shouted:
"Who's ready for the cave?"
Everybody was. Bundles of candles were procured,
and straightway there was a general scamper up the
hill. The mouth of the cave was up the hillside -- an
opening shaped like a letter A. Its massive oaken
door stood unbarred. Within was a small chamber,
chilly as an ice-house, and walled by Nature with
solid limestone that was dewy with a cold sweat. It
was romantic and mysterious to stand here in the
deep gloom and look out upon the green valley shining
in the sun. But the impressiveness of the situation
quickly wore off, and the romping began again. The
moment a candle was lighted there was a general rush
upon the owner of it; a struggle and a gallant defence
followed, but the candle was soon knocked down or
blown out, and then there was a glad clamor of laughter
and a new chase. But all things have an end. By-andby
the procession went filing down the steep descent
of the main avenue, the flickering rank of lights dimly
revealing the lofty walls of rock almost to their point
of junction sixty feet overhead. This main avenue
was not more than eight or ten feet wide. Every few
steps other lofty and still narrower crevices branched
from it on either hand -- for McDougal's cave was but
a vast labyrinth of crooked aisles that ran into each
other and out again and led nowhere. It was said that
one might wander days and nights together through
its intricate tangle of rifts and chasms, and never find
the end of the cave; and that he might go down, and
down, and still down, into the earth, and it was just
the same -- labyrinth under labyrinth, and no end to
any of them. No man "knew" the cave. That was
an impossible thing. Most of the young men knew a
portion of it, and it was not customary to venture much
beyond this known portion. Tom Sawyer knew as
much of the cave as any one.
The procession moved along the main avenue
some three-quarters of a mile, and then groups and
couples began to slip aside into branch avenues, fly
along the dismal corridors, and take each other by
surprise at points where the corridors joined again.
Parties were able to elude each other for the space of
half an hour without going beyond the "known"
By-and-by, one group after another came straggling
back to the mouth of the cave, panting, hilarious,
smeared from head to foot with tallow drippings,
daubed with clay, and entirely delighted with the
success of the day. Then they were astonished to
find that they had been taking no note of time and
that night was about at hand. The clanging bell had
been calling for half an hour. However, this sort of
close to the day's adventures was romantic and therefore
satisfactory. When the ferryboat with her wild
freight pushed into the stream, nobody cared sixpence
for the wasted time but the captain of the craft.
Huck was already upon his watch when the ferryboat'
s lights went glinting past the wharf. He heard
no noise on board, for the young people were as subdued
and still as people usually are who are nearly
tired to death. He wondered what boat it was, and
why she did not stop at the wharf -- and then he dropped
her out of his mind and put his attention upon his
business. The night was growing cloudy and dark.
Ten o'clock came, and the noise of vehicles ceased,
scattered lights began to wink out, all straggling footpassengers
disappeared, the village betook itself to
its slumbers and left the small watcher alone with the
silence and the ghosts. Eleven o'clock came, and the
tavern lights were put out; darkness everywhere, now.
Huck waited what seemed a weary long time, but nothing
happened. His faith was weakening. Was there
any use? Was there really any use? Why not give
it up and turn in?
A noise fell upon his ear. He was all attention in
an instant. The alley door closed softly. He sprang
to the corner of the brick store. The next moment
two men brushed by him, and one seemed to have
something under his arm. It must be that box! So
they were going to remove the treasure. Why call
Tom now? It would be absurd -- the men would get
away with the box and never be found again. No, he
would stick to their wake and follow them; he would
trust to the darkness for security from discovery. So
communing with himself, Huck stepped out and glided
along behind the men, cat-like, with bare feet, allowing
them to keep just far enough ahead not to be invisible.
They moved up the river street three blocks, then
turned to the left up a cross-street. They went straight
ahead, then, until they came to the path that led up
Cardiff Hill; this they took. They passed by the old
Welshman's house, half-way up the hill, without hesitating,
and still climbed upward. Good, thought Huck,
they will bury it in the old quarry. But they never
stopped at the quarry. They passed on, up the summit.
They plunged into the narrow path between the
tall sumach bushes, and were at once hidden in the
gloom. Huck closed up and shortened his distance,
now, for they would never be able to see him. He
trotted along awhile; then slackened his pace, fearing
he was gaining too fast; moved on a piece, then stopped
altogether; listened; no sound; none, save that he
seemed to hear the beating of his own heart. The
hooting of an owl came over the hill -- ominous sound!
But no footsteps. Heavens, was everything lost! He
was about to spring with winged feet, when a man
cleared his throat not four feet from him! Huck's
heart shot into his throat, but he swallowed it again;
and then he stood there shaking as if a dozen agues
had taken charge of him at once, and so weak that he
thought he must surely fall to the ground. He knew
where he was. He knew he was within five steps of
the stile leading into Widow Douglas' grounds. Very
well, he thought, let them bury it there; it won't be
hard to find.
Now there was a voice -- a very low voice -- Injun
"Damn her, maybe she's got company -- there's
lights, late as it is."
"I can't see any."
This was that stranger's voice -- the stranger of the
haunted house. A deadly chill went to Huck's heart --
this, then, was the "revenge" job! His thought was,
to fly. Then he remembered that the Widow Douglas
had been kind to him more than once, and maybe these
men were going to murder her. He wished he dared
venture to warn her; but he knew he didn't dare -- they
might come and catch him. He thought all this and
more in the moment that elapsed between the stranger's
remark and Injun Joe's next -- which was --
"Because the bush is in your way. Now -- this way
-- now you see, don't you?"
"Yes. Well, there IS company there, I reckon.
Better give it up."
"Give it up, and I just leaving this country forever!
Give it up and maybe never have another chance. I
tell you again, as I've told you before, I don't care
for her swag -- you may have it. But her husband
was rough on me -- many times he was rough on me
-- and mainly he was the justice of the peace that
jugged me for a vagrant. And that ain't all. It
ain't a millionth part of it! He had me HORSEWHIPPED!
-- horsewhipped in front of the jail, like a nigger! --
with all the town looking on! HORSEWHIPPED! -- do
you understand? He took advantage of me and died.
But I'll take it out of HER."
"Oh, don't kill her! Don't do that!"
"Kill? Who said anything about killing? I would
kill HIM if he was here; but not her. When you want
to get revenge on a woman you don't kill her -- bosh!
you go for her looks. You slit her nostrils -- you notch
her ears like a sow!"
"By God, that's --"
"Keep your opinion to yourself! It will be safest
for you. I'll tie her to the bed. If she bleeds to
death, is that my fault? I'll not cry, if she does. My
friend, you'll help me in this thing -- for MY sake --
that's why you're here -- I mightn't be able alone. If
you flinch, I'll kill you. Do you understand that?
And if I have to kill you, I'll kill her -- and then I
reckon nobody'll ever know much about who done
"Well, if it's got to be done, let's get at it. The
quicker the better -- I'm all in a shiver."
"Do it NOW? And company there? Look here --
I'll get suspicious of you, first thing you know. No
-- we'll wait till the lights are out -- there's no hurry."
Huck felt that a silence was going to ensue -- a
thing still more awful than any amount of murderous
talk; so he held his breath and stepped gingerly back;
planted his foot carefully and firmly, after balancing,
one-legged, in a precarious way and almost toppling
over, first on one side and then on the other. He
took another step back, with the same elaboration
and the same risks; then another and another, and
-- a twig snapped under his foot! His breath stopped
and he listened. There was no sound -- the stillness
was perfect. His gratitude was measureless. Now he
turned in his tracks, between the walls of sumach
bushes -- turned himself as carefully as if he were a
ship -- and then stepped quickly but cautiously along.
When he emerged at the quarry he felt secure, and so he
picked up his nimble heels and flew. Down, down he
sped, till he reached the Welshman's. He banged at
the door, and presently the heads of the old man and
his two stalwart sons were thrust from windows.
"What's the row there? Who's banging? What
do you want?"
"Let me in -- quick! I'll tell everything."
"Why, who are you?"
"Huckleberry Finn -- quick, let me in!"
"Huckleberry Finn, indeed! It ain't a name to
open many doors, I judge! But let him in, lads, and
let's see what's the trouble."
"Please don't ever tell I told you," were Huck's
first words when he got in. "Please don't -- I'd be
killed, sure -- but the widow's been good friends to
me sometimes, and I want to tell -- I WILL tell if you'll
promise you won't ever say it was me."
"By George, he HAS got something to tell, or he
wouldn't act so!" exclaimed the old man; "out with
it and nobody here'll ever tell, lad."
Three minutes later the old man and his sons, well
armed, were up the hill, and just entering the sumach
path on tiptoe, their weapons in their hands. Huck
accompanied them no further. He hid behind a great
bowlder and fell to listening. There was a lagging,
anxious silence, and then all of a sudden there was
an explosion of firearms and a cry.
Huck waited for no particulars. He sprang away
and sped down the hill as fast as his legs could carry
AS the earliest suspicion of dawn appeared
on Sunday morning, Huck came groping
up the hill and rapped gently at the old
Welshman's door. The inmates were
asleep, but it was a sleep that was set on
a hair-trigger, on account of the exciting
episode of the night. A call came from a window:
Huck's scared voice answered in a low tone:
"Please let me in! It's only Huck Finn!"
"It's a name that can open this door night or day,
lad! -- and welcome!"
These were strange words to the vagabond boy's
ears, and the pleasantest he had ever heard. He
could not recollect that the closing word had ever been
applied in his case before. The door was quickly
unlocked, and he entered. Huck was given a seat
and the old man and his brace of tall sons speedily
"Now, my boy, I hope you're good and hungry,
because breakfast will be ready as soon as the sun's
up, and we'll have a piping hot one, too -- make yourself
easy about that! I and the boys hoped you'd
turn up and stop here last night."
"I was awful scared," said Huck, "and I run. I
took out when the pistols went off, and I didn't stop
for three mile. I've come now becuz I wanted to know
about it, you know; and I come before daylight becuz
I didn't want to run across them devils, even if they
"Well, poor chap, you do look as if you'd had a
hard night of it -- but there's a bed here for you when
you've had your breakfast. No, they ain't dead, lad
-- we are sorry enough for that. You see we knew
right where to put our hands on them, by your description;
so we crept along on tiptoe till we got
within fifteen feet of them -- dark as a cellar that sumach
path was -- and just then I found I was going to sneeze.
It was the meanest kind of luck! I tried to keep it
back, but no use -- 'twas bound to come, and it did
come! I was in the lead with my pistol raised, and
when the sneeze started those scoundrels a-rustling to
get out of the path, I sung out, 'Fire boys!' and blazed
away at the place where the rustling was. So did the
boys. But they were off in a jiffy, those villains, and
we after them, down through the woods. I judge we
never touched them. They fired a shot apiece as they
started, but their bullets whizzed by and didn't do us
any harm. As soon as we lost the sound of their feet
we quit chasing, and went down and stirred up the
constables. They got a posse together, and went off
to guard the river bank, and as soon as it is light the
sheriff and a gang are going to beat up the woods. My
boys will be with them presently. I wish we had
some sort of description of those rascals -- 'twould help
a good deal. But you couldn't see what they were
like, in the dark, lad, I suppose?"
"Oh yes; I saw them down-town and follered
"Splendid! Describe them -- describe them, my
"One's the old deaf and dumb Spaniard that's ben
around here once or twice, and t'other's a mean-looking,
"That's enough, lad, we know the men! Happened
on them in the woods back of the widow's one
day, and they slunk away. Off with you, boys, and
tell the sheriff -- get your breakfast to-morrow morning!"
The Welshman's sons departed at once. As they
were leaving the room Huck sprang up and exclaimed:
"Oh, please don't tell ANYbody it was me that
blowed on them! Oh, please!"
"All right if you say it, Huck, but you ought to
have the credit of what you did."
"Oh no, no! Please don't tell!"
When the young men were gone, the old Welshman
"They won't tell -- and I won't. But why don't
you want it known?"
Huck would not explain, further than to say that
he already knew too much about one of those men
and would not have the man know that he knew anything
against him for the whole world -- he would be
killed for knowing it, sure.
The old man promised secrecy once more, and
"How did you come to follow these fellows, lad?
Were they looking suspicious?"
Huck was silent while he framed a duly cautious
reply. Then he said:
"Well, you see, I'm a kind of a hard lot, -- least
everybody says so, and I don't see nothing agin it --
and sometimes I can't sleep much, on account of thinking
about it and sort of trying to strike out a new
way of doing. That was the way of it last night. I
couldn't sleep, and so I come along up-street 'bout
midnight, a-turning it all over, and when I got to that
old shackly brick store by the Temperance Tavern,
I backed up agin the wall to have another think. Well,
just then along comes these two chaps slipping along
close by me, with something under their arm, and I
reckoned they'd stole it. One was a-smoking, and
t'other one wanted a light; so they stopped right before
me and the cigars lit up their faces and I see that the
big one was the deaf and dumb Spaniard, by his white
whiskers and the patch on his eye, and t'other one
was a rusty, ragged-looking devil."
"Could you see the rags by the light of the cigars?"
This staggered Huck for a moment. Then he
"Well, I don't know -- but somehow it seems as if
"Then they went on, and you --"
"Follered 'em -- yes. That was it. I wanted to see
what was up -- they sneaked along so. I dogged 'em
to the widder's stile, and stood in the dark and heard
the ragged one beg for the widder, and the Spaniard
swear he'd spile her looks just as I told you and your
"What! The DEAF AND DUMB man said all that!"
Huck had made another terrible mistake! He was
trying his best to keep the old man from getting the
faintest hint of who the Spaniard might be, and yet
his tongue seemed determined to get him into trouble
in spite of all he could do. He made several efforts
to creep out of his scrape, but the old man's eye was
upon him and he made blunder after blunder. Presently
the Welshman said:
"My boy, don't be afraid of me. I wouldn't hurt
a hair of your head for all the world. No -- I'd protect
you -- I'd protect you. This Spaniard is not deaf
and dumb; you've let that slip without intending it;
you can't cover that up now. You know something
about that Spaniard that you want to keep dark.
Now trust me -- tell me what it is, and trust me -- I
won't betray you."
Huck looked into the old man's honest eyes a moment,
then bent over and whispered in his ear:
"'Tain't a Spaniard -- it's Injun Joe!"
The Welshman almost jumped out of his chair. In
a moment he said:
"It's all plain enough, now. When you talked
about notching ears and slitting noses I judged that
that was your own embellishment, because white
men don't take that sort of revenge. But an Injun!
That's a different matter altogether."
During breakfast the talk went on, and in the course
of it the old man said that the last thing which he and
his sons had done, before going to bed, was to get a
lantern and examine the stile and its vicinity for marks
of blood. They found none, but captured a bulky
bundle of --
If the words had been lightning they could not
have leaped with a more stunning suddenness from
Huck's blanched lips. His eyes were staring wide,
now, and his breath suspended -- waiting for the answer.
The Welshman started -- stared in return -- three seconds
-- five seconds -- ten -- then replied:
"Of burglar's tools. Why, what's the MATTER with
Huck sank back, panting gently, but deeply, unutterably
grateful. The Welshman eyed him gravely,
curiously -- and presently said:
"Yes, burglar's tools. That appears to relieve
you a good deal. But what did give you that turn?
What were YOU expecting we'd found?"
Huck was in a close place -- the inquiring eye was
upon him -- he would have given anything for material
for a plausible answer -- nothing suggested itself -- the
inquiring eye was boring deeper and deeper -- a senseless
reply offered -- there was no time to weigh it, so
at a venture he uttered it -- feebly:
"Sunday-school books, maybe."
Poor Huck was too distressed to smile, but the old
man laughed loud and joyously, shook up the details
of his anatomy from head to foot, and ended by saying
that such a laugh was money in a-man's pocket, because
it cut down the doctor's bill like everything.
Then he added:
"Poor old chap, you're white and jaded -- you ain't
well a bit -- no wonder you're a little flighty and off
your balance. But you'll come out of it. Rest and
sleep will fetch you out all right, I hope."
Huck was irritated to think he had been such a
goose and betrayed such a suspicious excitement, for
he had dropped the idea that the parcel brought from
the tavern was the treasure, as soon as he had heard
the talk at the widow's stile. He had only thought
it was not the treasure, however -- he had not known
that it wasn't -- and so the suggestion of a captured
bundle was too much for his self-possession. But on
the whole he felt glad the little episode had happened,
for now he knew beyond all question that that bundle
was not THE bundle, and so his mind was at rest and
exceedingly comfortable. In fact, everything seemed
to be drifting just in the right direction, now; the
treasure must be still in No. 2, the men would be
captured and jailed that day, and he and Tom could
seize the gold that night without any trouble or any
fear of interruption.
Just as breakfast was completed there was a knock
at the door. Huck jumped for a hiding-place, for
he had no mind to be connected even remotely with
the late event. The Welshman admitted several
ladies and gentlemen, among them the Widow Douglas,
and noticed that groups of citizens were climbing up
the hill -- to stare at the stile. So the news had spread.
The Welshman had to tell the story of the night
to the visitors. The widow's gratitude for her preservation
"Don't say a word about it, madam. There's
another that you're more beholden to than you are
to me and my boys, maybe, but he don't allow me
to tell his name. We wouldn't have been there but
Of course this excited a curiosity so vast that it
almost belittled the main matter -- but the Welshman
allowed it to eat into the vitals of his visitors, and
through them be transmitted to the whole town, for
he refused to part with his secret. When all else had
been learned, the widow said:
"I went to sleep reading in bed and slept straight
through all that noise. Why didn't you come and
"We judged it warn't worth while. Those fellows
warn't likely to come again -- they hadn't any tools
left to work with, and what was the use of waking
you up and scaring you to death? My three negro
men stood guard at your house all the rest of the night.
They've just come back."
More visitors came, and the story had to be told
and retold for a couple of hours more.
There was no Sabbath-school during day-school
vacation, but everybody was early at church. The
stirring event was well canvassed. News came that
not a sign of the two villains had been yet discovered.
When the sermon was finished, Judge Thatcher's
wife dropped alongside of Mrs. Harper as she moved
down the aisle with the crowd and said:
"Is my Becky going to sleep all day? I just expected
she would be tired to death."
"Yes," with a startled look -- "didn't she stay with
you last night?"
Mrs. Thatcher turned pale, and sank into a pew,
just as Aunt Polly, talking briskly with a friend, passed
by. Aunt Polly said:
"Good-morning, Mrs. Thatcher. Good-morning,
Mrs. Harper. I've got a boy that's turned up missing.
I reckon my Tom stayed at your house last night --
one of you. And now he's afraid to come to church.
I've got to settle with him."
Mrs. Thatcher shook her head feebly and turned
paler than ever.
"He didn't stay with us," said Mrs. Harper, beginning
to look uneasy. A marked anxiety came into
Aunt Polly's face.
"Joe Harper, have you seen my Tom this morning?"
"When did you see him last?"
Joe tried to remember, but was not sure he could
say. The people had stopped moving out of church.
Whispers passed along, and a boding uneasiness took
possession of every countenance. Children were anxiously
questioned, and young teachers. They all said
they had not noticed whether Tom and Becky were on
board the ferryboat on the homeward trip; it was dark;
no one thought of inquiring if any one was missing.
One young man finally blurted out his fear that they
were still in the cave! Mrs. Thatcher swooned away.
Aunt Polly fell to crying and wringing her hands.
The alarm swept from lip to lip, from group to
group, from street to street, and within five minutes
the bells were wildly clanging and the whole town was
up! The Cardiff Hill episode sank into instant insignificance,
the burglars were forgotten, horses were
saddled, skiffs were manned, the ferryboat ordered out,
and before the horror was half an hour old, two hundred
men were pouring down highroad and river toward the
All the long afternoon the village seemed empty
and dead. Many women visited Aunt Polly and Mrs.
Thatcher and tried to comfort them. They cried
with them, too, and that was still better than words.
All the tedious night the town waited for news; but
when the morning dawned at last, all the word that
came was, "Send more candles -- and send food." Mrs.
Thatcher was almost crazed; and Aunt Polly, also.
Judge Thatcher sent messages of hope and encouragement
from the cave, but they conveyed no real cheer.
The old Welshman came home toward daylight,
spattered with candle-grease, smeared with clay, and
almost worn out. He found Huck still in the bed
that had been provided for him, and delirious with
fever. The physicians were all at the cave, so the
Widow Douglas came and took charge of the patient.
She said she would do her best by him, because, whether
he was good, bad, or indifferent, he was the Lord's,
and nothing that was the Lord's was a thing to be
neglected. The Welshman said Huck had good spots
in him, and the widow said:
"You can depend on it. That's the Lord's mark.
He don't leave it off. He never does. Puts it somewhere
on every creature that comes from his hands."
Early in the forenoon parties of jaded men began
to straggle into the village, but the strongest of the
citizens continued searching. All the news that could
be gained was that remotenesses of the cavern were
being ransacked that had never been visited before;
that every corner and crevice was going to be thoroughly
searched; that wherever one wandered through the
maze of passages, lights were to be seen flitting hither
and thither in the distance, and shoutings and pistolshots
sent their hollow reverberations to the ear down
the sombre aisles. In one place, far from the section
usually traversed by tourists, the names "BECKY &
TOM" had been found traced upon the rocky wall
with candle-smoke, and near at hand a grease-soiled
bit of ribbon. Mrs. Thatcher recognized the ribbon
and cried over it. She said it was the last relic she
should ever have of her child; and that no other
memorial of her could ever be so precious, because
this one parted latest from the living body before the
awful death came. Some said that now and then, in
the cave, a far-away speck of light would glimmer, and
then a glorious shout would burst forth and a score of
men go trooping down the echoing aisle -- and then a
sickening disappointment always followed; the children
were not there; it was only a searcher's light.
Three dreadful days and nights dragged their tedious
hours along, and the village sank into a hopeless
stupor. No one had heart for anything. The accidental
discovery, just made, that the proprietor of the
Temperance Tavern kept liquor on his premises,
scarcely fluttered the public pulse, tremendous as the
fact was. In a lucid interval, Huck feebly led up to
the subject of taverns, and finally asked -- dimly
dreading the worst -- if anything had been discovered
at the Temperance Tavern since he had been ill.
"Yes," said the widow.
Huck started up in bed, wild-eyed:
"What? What was it?"
"Liquor! -- and the place has been shut up. Lie
down, child -- what a turn you did give me!"
"Only tell me just one thing -- only just one -- please!
Was it Tom Sawyer that found it?"
The widow burst into tears. "Hush, hush, child,
hush! I've told you before, you must NOT talk. You
are very, very sick!"
Then nothing but liquor had been found; there
would have been a great powwow if it had been the
gold. So the treasure was gone forever -- gone forever!
But what could she be crying about? Curious that
she should cry.
These thoughts worked their dim way through Huck's
mind, and under the weariness they gave him he fell
asleep. The widow said to herself:
"There -- he's asleep, poor wreck. Tom Sawyer
find it! Pity but somebody could find Tom Sawyer!
Ah, there ain't many left, now, that's got hope enough,
or strength enough, either, to go on searching."
NOW to return to Tom and Becky's share
in the picnic. They tripped along the
murky aisles with the rest of the company,
visiting the familiar wonders of the
cave -- wonders dubbed with rather overdescriptive
names, such as "The Drawing
-Room," "The Cathedral," "Aladdin's Palace," and
so on. Presently the hide-and-seek frolicking began,
and Tom and Becky engaged in it with zeal until the
exertion began to grow a trifle wearisome; then they
wandered down a sinuous avenue holding their candles
aloft and reading the tangled web-work of names,
dates, post-office addresses, and mottoes with which
the rocky walls had been frescoed (in candle-smoke).
Still drifting along and talking, they scarcely noticed
that they were now in a part of the cave whose walls
were not frescoed. They smoked their own names
under an overhanging shelf and moved on. Presently
they came to a place where a little stream of water,
trickling over a ledge and carrying a limestone sediment
with it, had, in the slow-dragging ages, formed a laced
and ruffled Niagara in gleaming and imperishable stone.
Tom squeezed his small body behind it in order to
illuminate it for Becky's gratification. He found that
it curtained a sort of steep natural stairway which was
enclosed between narrow walls, and at once the ambition
to be a discoverer seized him. Becky responded
to his call, and they made a smoke-mark for future
guidance, and started upon their quest. They wound
this way and that, far down into the secret depths of
the cave, made another mark, and branched off in
search of novelties to tell the upper world about. In
one place they found a spacious cavern, from whose
ceiling depended a multitude of shining stalactites of
the length and circumference of a man's leg; they
walked all about it, wondering and admiring, and
presently left it by one of the numerous passages that
opened into it. This shortly brought them to a bewitching
spring, whose basin was incrusted with a
frostwork of glittering crystals; it was in the midst of
a cavern whose walls were supported by many fantastic
pillars which had been formed by the joining
of great stalactites and stalagmites together, the result
of the ceaseless water-drip of centuries. Under the
roof vast knots of bats had packed themselves together,
thousands in a bunch; the lights disturbed the creatures
and they came flocking down by hundreds,
squeaking and darting furiously at the candles. Tom
knew their ways and the danger of this sort of conduct.
He seized Becky's hand and hurried her into the first
corridor that offered; and none too soon, for a bat
struck Becky's light out with its wing while she was
passing out of the cavern. The bats chased the children
a good distance; but the fugitives plunged into every
new passage that offered, and at last got rid of the
perilous things. Tom found a subterranean lake,
shortly, which stretched its dim length away until its
shape was lost in the shadows. He wanted to explore
its borders, but concluded that it would be best to sit
down and rest awhile, first. Now, for the first time,
the deep stillness of the place laid a clammy hand
upon the spirits of the children. Becky said:
"Why, I didn't notice, but it seems ever so long since
I heard any of the others."
"Come to think, Becky, we are away down below
them -- and I don't know how far away north, or south,
or east, or whichever it is. We couldn't hear them
Becky grew apprehensive.
"I wonder how long we've been down here, Tom?
We better start back."
"Yes, I reckon we better. P'raps we better."
"Can you find the way, Tom? It's all a mixed-up
crookedness to me."
"I reckon I could find it -- but then the bats. If
they put our candles out it will be an awful fix. Let's
try some other way, so as not to go through there."
"Well. But I hope we won't get lost. It would
be so awful!" and the girl shuddered at the thought
of the dreadful possibilities.
They started through a corridor, and traversed it
in silence a long way, glancing at each new opening,
to see if there was anything familiar about the look of
it; but they were all strange. Every time Tom made
an examination, Becky would watch his face for an
encouraging sign, and he would say cheerily:
"Oh, it's all right. This ain't the one, but we'll
come to it right away!"
But he felt less and less hopeful with each failure,
and presently began to turn off into diverging avenues
at sheer random, in desperate hope of finding the one
that was wanted. He still said it was "all right,"
but there was such a leaden dread at his heart that the
words had lost their ring and sounded just as if he had
said, "All is lost!" Becky clung to his side in an
anguish of fear, and tried hard to keep back the tears,
but they would come. At last she said:
"Oh, Tom, never mind the bats, let's go back that
way! We seem to get worse and worse off all the time."
"Listen!" said he.
Profound silence; silence so deep that even their
breathings were conspicuous in the hush. Tom shouted.
The call went echoing down the empty aisles and
died out in the distance in a faint sound that resembled
a ripple of mocking laughter.
"Oh, don't do it again, Tom, it is too horrid," said
"It is horrid, but I better, Becky; they might hear
us, you know," and he shouted again.
The "might" was even a chillier horror than the
ghostly laughter, it so confessed a perishing hope.
The children stood still and listened; but there was
no result. Tom turned upon the back track at once,
and hurried his steps. It was but a little while before
a certain indecision in his manner revealed another
fearful fact to Becky -- he could not find his way
"Oh, Tom, you didn't make any marks!"
"Becky, I was such a fool! Such a fool! I never
thought we might want to come back! No -- I can't
find the way. It's all mixed up."
"Tom, Tom, we're lost! we're lost! We never can
get out of this awful place! Oh, why DID we ever leave
She sank to the ground and burst into such a frenzy
of crying that Tom was appalled with the idea that
she might die, or lose her reason. He sat down by
her and put his arms around her; she buried her face
in his bosom, she clung to him, she poured out her
terrors, her unavailing regrets, and the far echoes turned
them all to jeering laughter. Tom begged her to pluck
up hope again, and she said she could not. He fell
to blaming and abusing himself for getting her into
this miserable situation; this had a better effect. She
said she would try to hope again, she would get up and
follow wherever he might lead if only he would not
talk like that any more. For he was no more to blame
than she, she said.
So they moved on again -- aimlessly -- simply at
random -- all they could do was to move, keep moving.
For a little while, hope made a show of reviving -- not
with any reason to back it, but only because it is its
nature to revive when the spring has not been taken
out of it by age and familiarity with failure.
By-and-by Tom took Becky's candle and blew it
out. This economy meant so much! Words were
not needed. Becky understood, and her hope died
again. She knew that Tom had a whole candle and
three or four pieces in his pockets -- yet he must economize.
By-and-by, fatigue began to assert its claims; the
children tried to pay attention, for it was dreadful
to think of sitting down when time was grown to be so
precious, moving, in some direction, in any direction,
was at least progress and might bear fruit; but to sit
down was to invite death and shorten its pursuit.
At last Becky's frail limbs refused to carry her
farther. She sat down. Tom rested with her, and
they talked of home, and the friends there, and the
comfortable beds and, above all, the light! Becky
cried, and Tom tried to think of some way of comforting
her, but all his encouragements were grown threadbare
with use, and sounded like sarcasms. Fatigue
bore so heavily upon Becky that she drowsed off to
sleep. Tom was grateful. He sat looking into her
drawn face and saw it grow smooth and natural under
the influence of pleasant dreams; and by-and-by a
smile dawned and rested there. The peaceful face
reflected somewhat of peace and healing into his own
spirit, and his thoughts wandered away to bygone
times and dreamy memories. While he was deep in
his musings, Becky woke up with a breezy little laugh
-- but it was stricken dead upon her lips, and a groan
"Oh, how COULD I sleep! I wish I never, never
had waked! No! No, I don't, Tom! Don't look
so! I won't say it again."
"I'm glad you've slept, Becky; you'll feel rested,
now, and we'll find the way out."
"We can try, Tom; but I've seen such a beautiful
country in my dream. I reckon we are going there."
"Maybe not, maybe not. Cheer up, Becky, and
let's go on trying."
They rose up and wandered along, hand in hand
and hopeless. They tried to estimate how long they
had been in the cave, but all they knew was that it
seemed days and weeks, and yet it was plain that this
could not be, for their candles were not gone yet. A
long time after this -- they could not tell how long --
Tom said they must go softly and listen for dripping
water -- they must find a spring. They found one
presently, and Tom said it was time to rest again.
Both were cruelly tired, yet Becky said she thought
she could go a little farther. She was surprised to
hear Tom dissent. She could not understand it.
They sat down, and Tom fastened his candle to the
wall in front of them with some clay. Thought was
soon busy; nothing was said for some time. Then
Becky broke the silence:
"Tom, I am so hungry!"
Tom took something out of his pocket.
"Do you remember this?" said he.
Becky almost smiled.
"It's our wedding-cake, Tom."
"Yes -- I wish it was as big as a barrel, for it's all
"I saved it from the picnic for us to dream on,
Tom, the way grown-up people do with weddingcake
-- but it'll be our --"
She dropped the sentence where it was. Tom
divided the cake and Becky ate with good appetite,
while Tom nibbled at his moiety. There was abundance
of cold water to finish the feast with. By-and-by
Becky suggested that they move on again. Tom was
silent a moment. Then he said:
"Becky, can you bear it if I tell you something?"
Becky's face paled, but she thought she could.
"Well, then, Becky, we must stay here, where there's
water to drink. That little piece is our last candle!"
Becky gave loose to tears and wailings. Tom did
what he could to comfort her, but with little effect.
At length Becky said:
"They'll miss us and hunt for us!"
"Yes, they will! Certainly they will!"
"Maybe they're hunting for us now, Tom."
"Why, I reckon maybe they are. I hope they are."
"When would they miss us, Tom?"
"When they get back to the boat, I reckon."
"Tom, it might be dark then -- would they notice
we hadn't come?"
"I don't know. But anyway, your mother would
miss you as soon as they got home."
A frightened look in Becky's face brought Tom to
his senses and he saw that he had made a blunder.
Becky was not to have gone home that night! The
children became silent and thoughtful. In a moment
a new burst of grief from Becky showed Tom that
the thing in his mind had struck hers also -- that the
Sabbath morning might be half spent before Mrs.
Thatcher discovered that Becky was not at Mrs.
The children fastened their eyes upon their bit of
candle and watched it melt slowly and pitilessly away;
saw the half inch of wick stand alone at last; saw the
feeble flame rise and fall, climb the thin column of
smoke, linger at its top a moment, and then -- the
horror of utter darkness reigned!
How long afterward it was that Becky came to a
slow consciousness that she was crying in Tom's arms,
neither could tell. All that they knew was, that after
what seemed a mighty stretch of time, both awoke
out of a dead stupor of sleep and resumed their miseries
once more. Tom said it might be Sunday, now --
maybe Monday. He tried to get Becky to talk, but her
sorrows were too oppressive, all her hopes were gone.
Tom said that they must have been missed long ago,
and no doubt the search was going on. He would
shout and maybe some one would come. He tried
it; but in the darkness the distant echoes sounded so
hideously that he tried it no more.
The hours wasted away, and hunger came to torment
the captives again. A portion of Tom's half of
the cake was left; they divided and ate it. But they
seemed hungrier than before. The poor morsel of
food only whetted desire.
By-and-by Tom said:
"SH! Did you hear that?"
Both held their breath and listened. There was a
sound like the faintest, far-off shout. Instantly Tom
answered it, and leading Becky by the hand, started
groping down the corridor in its direction. Presently
he listened again; again the sound was heard, and
apparently a little nearer.
"It's them!" said Tom; "they're coming! Come
along, Becky -- we're all right now!"
The joy of the prisoners was almost overwhelming.
Their speed was slow, however, because pitfalls were
somewhat common, and had to be guarded against.
They shortly came to one and had to stop. It might
be three feet deep, it might be a hundred -- there was no
passing it at any rate. Tom got down on his breast
and reached as far down as he could. No bottom.
They must stay there and wait until the searchers came.
They listened; evidently the distant shoutings were
growing more distant! a moment or two more and they
had gone altogether. The heart-sinking misery of
it! Tom whooped until he was hoarse, but it was of
no use. He talked hopefully to Becky; but an age
of anxious waiting passed and no sounds came again.
The children groped their way back to the spring.
The weary time dragged on; they slept again, and
awoke famished and woe-stricken. Tom believed it
must be Tuesday by this time.
Now an idea struck him. There were some side
passages near at hand. It would be better to explore
some of these than bear the weight of the heavy time in
idleness. He took a kite-line from his pocket, tied it
to a projection, and he and Becky started, Tom in the
lead, unwinding the line as he groped along. At the
end of twenty steps the corridor ended in a "jumpingoff
place." Tom got down on his knees and felt below,
and then as far around the corner as he could reach
with his hands conveniently; he made an effort to
stretch yet a little farther to the right, and at that
moment, not twenty yards away, a human hand,
holding a candle, appeared from behind a rock! Tom
lifted up a glorious shout, and instantly that hand was
followed by the body it belonged to -- Injun Joe's!
Tom was paralyzed; he could not move. He was
vastly gratified the next moment, to see the "Spaniard"
take to his heels and get himself out of sight. Tom
wondered that Joe had not recognized his voice and
come over and killed him for testifying in court. But
the echoes must have disguised the voice. Without
doubt, that was it, he reasoned. Tom's fright weakened
every muscle in his body. He said to himself
that if he had strength enough to get back to the
spring he would stay there, and nothing should tempt
him to run the risk of meeting Injun Joe again. He
was careful to keep from Becky what it was he had
seen. He told her he had only shouted "for luck."
But hunger and wretchedness rise superior to fears
in the long run. Another tedious wait at the spring
and another long sleep brought changes. The children
awoke tortured with a raging hunger. Tom
believed that it must be Wednesday or Thursday or
even Friday or Saturday, now, and that the search
had been given over. He proposed to explore another
passage. He felt willing to risk Injun Joe and all
other terrors. But Becky was very weak. She had
sunk into a dreary apathy and would not be roused.
She said she would wait, now, where she was, and die
-- it would not be long. She told Tom to go with the
kite-line and explore if he chose; but she implored him
to come back every little while and speak to her; and
she made him promise that when the awful time came,
he would stay by her and hold her hand until all was
Tom kissed her, with a choking sensation in his
throat, and made a show of being confident of finding
the searchers or an escape from the cave; then he
took the kite-line in his hand and went groping down
one of the passages on his hands and knees, distressed
with hunger and sick with bodings of coming doom.
TUESDAY afternoon came, and waned to
the twilight. The village of St. Petersburg
still mourned. The lost children
had not been found. Public prayers
had been offered up for them, and many
and many a private prayer that had the
petitioner's whole heart in it; but still no good news
came from the cave. The majority of the searchers
had given up the quest and gone back to their daily
avocations, saying that it was plain the children could
never be found. Mrs. Thatcher was very ill, and a
great part of the time delirious. People said it was
heartbreaking to hear her call her child, and raise her
head and listen a whole minute at a time, then lay it
wearily down again with a moan. Aunt Polly had
drooped into a settled melancholy, and her gray hair
had grown almost white. The village went to its rest
on Tuesday night, sad and forlorn.
Away in the middle of the night a wild peal burst
from the village bells, and in a moment the streets were
swarming with frantic half-clad people, who shouted,
"Turn out! turn out! they're found! they're found!"
Tin pans and horns were added to the din, the population
massed itself and moved toward the river, met
the children coming in an open carriage drawn by
shouting citizens, thronged around it, joined its homeward
march, and swept magnificently up the main
street roaring huzzah after huzzah!
The village was illuminated; nobody went to bed
again; it was the greatest night the little town had
ever seen. During the first half-hour a procession of
villagers filed through Judge Thatcher's house, seized
the saved ones and kissed them, squeezed Mrs. Thatcher'
s hand, tried to speak but couldn't -- and drifted out
raining tears all over the place.
Aunt Polly's happiness was complete, and Mrs.
Thatcher's nearly so. It would be complete, however,
as soon as the messenger dispatched with the
great news to the cave should get the word to her
husband. Tom lay upon a sofa with an eager auditory
about him and told the history of the wonderful
adventure, putting in many striking additions to adorn
it withal; and closed with a description of how he
left Becky and went on an exploring expedition; how
he followed two avenues as far as his kite-line would
reach; how he followed a third to the fullest stretch
of the kite-line, and was about to turn back when he
glimpsed a far-off speck that looked like daylight;
dropped the line and groped toward it, pushed his
head and shoulders through a small hole, and saw the
broad Mississippi rolling by! And if it had only happened
to be night he would not have seen that speck
of daylight and would not have explored that passage
any more! He told how he went back for Becky and
broke the good news and she told him not to fret her
with such stuff, for she was tired, and knew she was
going to die, and wanted to. He described how he
labored with her and convinced her; and how she
almost died for joy when she had groped to where she
actually saw the blue speck of daylight; how he pushed
his way out at the hole and then helped her out; how
they sat there and cried for gladness; how some men
came along in a skiff and Tom hailed them and told
them their situation and their famished condition; how
the men didn't believe the wild tale at first, "because,"
said they, "you are five miles down the river below the
valley the cave is in" -- then took them aboard, rowed to
a house, gave them supper, made them rest till two or
three hours after dark and then brought them home.
Before day-dawn, Judge Thatcher and the handful
of searchers with him were tracked out, in the cave, by
the twine clews they had strung behind them, and
informed of the great news.
Three days and nights of toil and hunger in the
cave were not to be shaken off at once, as Tom and
Becky soon discovered. They were bedridden all of
Wednesday and Thursday, and seemed to grow more
and more tired and worn, all the time. Tom got
about, a little, on Thursday, was down-town Friday,
and nearly as whole as ever Saturday; but Becky
did not leave her room until Sunday, and then she
looked as if she had passed through a wasting illness.
Tom learned of Huck's sickness and went to see
him on Friday, but could not be admitted to the
bedroom; neither could he on Saturday or Sunday.
He was admitted daily after that, but was warned to
keep still about his adventure and introduce no exciting
topic. The Widow Douglas stayed by to see
that he obeyed. At home Tom learned of the Cardiff
Hill event; also that the "ragged man's" body had
eventually been found in the river near the ferrylanding;
he had been drowned while trying to escape,
About a fortnight after Tom's rescue from the
cave, he started off to visit Huck, who had grown
plenty strong enough, now, to hear exciting talk, and
Tom had some that would interest him, he thought.
Judge Thatcher's house was on Tom's way, and he
stopped to see Becky. The Judge and some friends
set Tom to talking, and some one asked him ironically
if he wouldn't like to go to the cave again. Tom said
he thought he wouldn't mind it. The Judge said:
"Well, there are others just like you, Tom, I've not
the least doubt. But we have taken care of that.
Nobody will get lost in that cave any more."
"Because I had its big door sheathed with boiler
iron two weeks ago, and triple-locked -- and I've got
Tom turned as white as a sheet.
"What's the matter, boy! Here, run, somebody!
Fetch a glass of water!"
The water was brought and thrown into Tom's
"Ah, now you're all right. What was the matter
with you, Tom?"
"Oh, Judge, Injun Joe's in the cave!"
WITHIN a few minutes the news had
spread, and a dozen skiff-loads of men
were on their way to McDougal's cave,
and the ferryboat, well filled with passengers,
soon followed. Tom Sawyer was
in the skiff that bore Judge Thatcher.
When the cave door was unlocked, a sorrowful
sight presented itself in the dim twilight of the place.
Injun Joe lay stretched upon the ground, dead, with
his face close to the crack of the door, as if his longing
eyes had been fixed, to the latest moment, upon the
light and the cheer of the free world outside. Tom
was touched, for he knew by his own experience how
this wretch had suffered. His pity was moved, but
nevertheless he felt an abounding sense of relief and
security, now, which revealed to him in a degree which
he had not fully appreciated before how vast a weight
of dread had been lying upon him since the day he
lifted his voice against this bloody-minded outcast.
Injun Joe's bowie-knife lay close by, its blade
broken in two. The great foundation-beam of the
door had been chipped and hacked through, with
tedious labor; useless labor, too, it was, for the native
rock formed a sill outside it, and upon that stubborn
material the knife had wrought no effect; the only
damage done was to the knife itself. But if there had
been no stony obstruction there the labor would have
been useless still, for if the beam had been wholly cut
away Injun Joe could not have squeezed his body
under the door, and he knew it. So he had only hacked
that place in order to be doing something -- in order to
pass the weary time -- in order to employ his tortured
faculties. Ordinarily one could find half a dozen bits
of candle stuck around in the crevices of this vestibule,
left there by tourists; but there were none now. The
prisoner had searched them out and eaten them. He
had also contrived to catch a few bats, and these,
also, he had eaten, leaving only their claws. The
poor unfortunate had starved to death. In one place,
near at hand, a stalagmite had been slowly growing
up from the ground for ages, builded by the water-drip
from a stalactite overhead. The captive had broken
off the stalagmite, and upon the stump had placed a
stone, wherein he had scooped a shallow hollow to
catch the precious drop that fell once in every three
minutes with the dreary regularity of a clock-tick -- a
dessertspoonful once in four and twenty hours. That
drop was falling when the Pyramids were new; when
Troy fell; when the foundations of Rome were laid
when Christ was crucified; when the Conqueror
created the British empire; when Columbus sailed;
when the massacre at Lexington was "news." It is
falling now; it will still be falling when all these things
shall have sunk down the afternoon of history, and
the twilight of tradition, and been swallowed up in
the thick night of oblivion. Has everything a purpose
and a mission? Did this drop fall patiently during
five thousand years to be ready for this flitting human
insect's need? and has it another important object to
accomplish ten thousand years to come? No matter.
It is many and many a year since the hapless half-breed
scooped out the stone to catch the priceless drops, but
to this day the tourist stares longest at that pathetic
stone and that slow-dropping water when he comes
to see the wonders of McDougal's cave. Injun Joe's
cup stands first in the list of the cavern's marvels; even
"Aladdin's Palace" cannot rival it.
Injun Joe was buried near the mouth of the cave;
and people flocked there in boats and wagons from
the towns and from all the farms and hamlets for
seven miles around; they brought their children, and
all sorts of provisions, and confessed that they had
had almost as satisfactory a time at the funeral as they
could have had at the hanging.
This funeral stopped the further growth of one
thing -- the petition to the governor for Injun Joe's
pardon. The petition had been largely signed; many
tearful and eloquent meetings had been held, and a
committee of sappy women been appointed to go in
deep mourning and wail around the governor, and
implore him to be a merciful ass and trample his duty
under foot. Injun Joe was believed to have killed five
citizens of the village, but what of that? If he had been
Satan himself there would have been plenty of weaklings
ready to scribble their names to a pardon-petition,
and drip a tear on it from their permanently impaired
and leaky water-works.
The morning after the funeral Tom took Huck to
a private place to have an important talk. Huck had
learned all about Tom's adventure from the Welshman
and the Widow Douglas, by this time, but
Tom said he reckoned there was one thing they
had not told him; that thing was what he wanted
to talk about now. Huck's face saddened. He
"I know what it is. You got into No. 2 and never
found anything but whiskey. Nobody told me it was
you; but I just knowed it must 'a' ben you, soon as
I heard 'bout that whiskey business; and I knowed you
hadn't got the money becuz you'd 'a' got at me some
way or other and told me even if you was mum to
everybody else. Tom, something's always told me
we'd never get holt of that swag."
"Why, Huck, I never told on that tavern-keeper.
YOU know his tavern was all right the Saturday I went
to the picnic. Don't you remember you was to watch
there that night?"
"Oh yes! Why, it seems 'bout a year ago. It
was that very night that I follered Injun Joe to the
"YOU followed him?"
"Yes -- but you keep mum. I reckon Injun Joe's
left friends behind him, and I don't want 'em souring
on me and doing me mean tricks. If it hadn't ben for
me he'd be down in Texas now, all right."
Then Huck told his entire adventure in confidence
to Tom, who had only heard of the Welshman's part
of it before.
"Well," said Huck, presently, coming back to the
main question, "whoever nipped the whiskey in No. 2,
nipped the money, too, I reckon -- anyways it's a goner
for us, Tom."
"Huck, that money wasn't ever in No. 2!"
"What!" Huck searched his comrade's face keenly.
"Tom, have you got on the track of that money again?"
"Huck, it's in the cave!"
Huck's eyes blazed.
"Say it again, Tom."
"The money's in the cave!"
"Tom -- honest injun, now -- is it fun, or earnest?"
"Earnest, Huck -- just as earnest as ever I was in
my life. Will you go in there with me and help get
"I bet I will! I will if it's where we can blaze our
way to it and not get lost."
"Huck, we can do that without the least little bit
of trouble in the world."
"Good as wheat! What makes you think the
"Huck, you just wait till we get in there. If we
don't find it I'll agree to give you my drum and every
thing I've got in the world. I will, by jings."
"All right -- it's a whiz. When do you say?"
"Right now, if you say it. Are you strong enough?"
"Is it far in the cave? I ben on my pins a little,
three or four days, now, but I can't walk more'n a
mile, Tom -- least I don't think I could."
"It's about five mile into there the way anybody
but me would go, Huck, but there's a mighty short
cut that they don't anybody but me know about.
Huck, I'll take you right to it in a skiff. I'll float
the skiff down there, and I'll pull it back again all by
myself. You needn't ever turn your hand over."
"Less start right off, Tom."
"All right. We want some bread and meat, and
our pipes, and a little bag or two, and two or three
kite-strings, and some of these new-fangled things
they call lucifer matches. I tell you, many's the
time I wished I had some when I was in there before."
A trifle after noon the boys borrowed a small skiff
from a citizen who was absent, and got under way
at once. When they were several miles below "Cave
Hollow," Tom said:
"Now you see this bluff here looks all alike all the
way down from the cave hollow -- no houses, no woodyards,
bushes all alike. But do you see that white
place up yonder where there's been a landslide?
Well, that's one of my marks. We'll get ashore,
"Now, Huck, where we're a-standing you could
touch that hole I got out of with a fishing-pole. See
if you can find it."
Huck searched all the place about, and found
nothing. Tom proudly marched into a thick clump of
sumach bushes and said:
"Here you are! Look at it, Huck; it's the snuggest
hole in this country. You just keep mum about it.
All along I've been wanting to be a robber, but I knew
I'd got to have a thing like this, and where to run across
it was the bother. We've got it now, and we'll keep it
quiet, only we'll let Joe Harper and Ben Rogers in --
because of course there's got to be a Gang, or else
there wouldn't be any style about it. Tom Sawyer's
Gang -- it sounds splendid, don't it, Huck?"
"Well, it just does, Tom. And who'll we rob?"
"Oh, most anybody. Waylay people -- that's mostly
"And kill them?"
"No, not always. Hive them in the cave till they
raise a ransom."
"What's a ransom?"
"Money. You make them raise all they can, off'n
their friends; and after you've kept them a year, if
it ain't raised then you kill them. That's the general
way. Only you don't kill the women. You shut up
the women, but you don't kill them. They're always
beautiful and rich, and awfully scared. You take
their watches and things, but you always take your
hat off and talk polite. They ain't anybody as polite
as robbers -- you'll see that in any book. Well, the
women get to loving you, and after they've been in the
cave a week or two weeks they stop crying and after
that you couldn't get them to leave. If you drove
them out they'd turn right around and come back.
It's so in all the books."
"Why, it's real bully, Tom. I believe it's better'n
to be a pirate."
"Yes, it's better in some ways, because it's close to
home and circuses and all that."
By this time everything was ready and the boys
entered the hole, Tom in the lead. They toiled their
way to the farther end of the tunnel, then made their
spliced kite-strings fast and moved on. A few steps
brought them to the spring, and Tom felt a shudder
quiver all through him. He showed Huck the fragment
of candle-wick perched on a lump of clay against
the wall, and described how he and Becky had watched
the flame struggle and expire.
The boys began to quiet down to whispers, now,
for the stillness and gloom of the place oppressed their
spirits. They went on, and presently entered and
followed Tom's other corridor until they reached the
"jumping-off place." The candles revealed the fact
that it was not really a precipice, but only a steep
clay hill twenty or thirty feet high. Tom whispered:
"Now I'll show you something, Huck."
He held his candle aloft and said:
"Look as far around the corner as you can. Do
you see that? There -- on the big rock over yonder
-- done with candle-smoke."
"Tom, it's a CROSS!"
"NOW where's your Number Two? 'UNDER THE
CROSS,' hey? Right yonder's where I saw Injun Joe
poke up his candle, Huck!"
Huck stared at the mystic sign awhile, and then said
with a shaky voice:
"Tom, less git out of here!"
"What! and leave the treasure?"
"Yes -- leave it. Injun Joe's ghost is round about
"No it ain't, Huck, no it ain't. It would ha'nt the
place where he died -- away out at the mouth of the
cave -- five mile from here."
"No, Tom, it wouldn't. It would hang round the
money. I know the ways of ghosts, and so do you."
Tom began to fear that Huck was right. Misgivings
gathered in his mind. But presently an idea
occurred to him --
"Lookyhere, Huck, what fools we're making of
ourselves! Injun Joe's ghost ain't a going to come
around where there's a cross!"
The point was well taken. It had its effect.
"Tom, I didn't think of that. But that's so. It's
luck for us, that cross is. I reckon we'll climb down
there and have a hunt for that box."
Tom went first, cutting rude steps in the clay hill
as he descended. Huck followed. Four avenues
opened out of the small cavern which the great rock
stood in. The boys examined three of them with no
result. They found a small recess in the one nearest
the base of the rock, with a pallet of blankets spread
down in it; also an old suspender, some bacon rind,
and the well-gnawed bones of two or three fowls. But
there was no money-box. The lads searched and researched
this place, but in vain. Tom said:
"He said UNDER the cross. Well, this comes nearest
to being under the cross. It can't be under the rock
itself, because that sets solid on the ground."
They searched everywhere once more, and then
sat down discouraged. Huck could suggest nothing.
By-and-by Tom said:
"Lookyhere, Huck, there's footprints and some candle
-grease on the clay about one side of this rock,
but not on the other sides. Now, what's that for?
I bet you the money IS under the rock. I'm going to
dig in the clay."
"That ain't no bad notion, Tom!" said Huck with
Tom's "real Barlow" was out at once, and he had
not dug four inches before he struck wood.
"Hey, Huck! -- you hear that?"
Huck began to dig and scratch now. Some boards
were soon uncovered and removed. They had concealed
a natural chasm which led under the rock. Tom
got into this and held his candle as far under the rock
as he could, but said he could not see to the end of the
rift. He proposed to explore. He stooped and passed
under; the narrow way descended gradually. He
followed its winding course, first to the right, then to
the left, Huck at his heels. Tom turned a short curve,
by-and-by, and exclaimed:
"My goodness, Huck, lookyhere!"
It was the treasure-box, sure enough, occupying a
snug little cavern, along with an empty powder-keg,
a couple of guns in leather cases, two or three pairs of
old moccasins, a leather belt, and some other rubbish
well soaked with the water-drip.
"Got it at last!" said Huck, ploughing among the tarnished
coins with his hand. "My, but we're rich, Tom!"
"Huck, I always reckoned we'd get it. It's just
too good to believe, but we HAVE got it, sure! Say --
let's not fool around here. Let's snake it out. Lemme
see if I can lift the box."
It weighed about fifty pounds. Tom could lift it,
after an awkward fashion, but could not carry it
"I thought so," he said; "THEY carried it like it
was heavy, that day at the ha'nted house. I noticed
that. I reckon I was right to think of fetching the
little bags along."
The money was soon in the bags and the boys took
it up to the cross rock.
"Now less fetch the guns and things," said Huck.
"No, Huck -- leave them there. They're just the
tricks to have when we go to robbing. We'll keep them
there all the time, and we'll hold our orgies there, too.
It's an awful snug place for orgies."
"I dono. But robbers always have orgies, and of
course we've got to have them, too. Come along,
Huck, we've been in here a long time. It's getting
late, I reckon. I'm hungry, too. We'll eat and smoke
when we get to the skiff."
They presently emerged into the clump of sumach
bushes, looked warily out, found the coast clear, and
were soon lunching and smoking in the skiff. As
the sun dipped toward the horizon they pushed out
and got under way. Tom skimmed up the shore
through the long twilight, chatting cheerily with Huck,
and landed shortly after dark.
"Now, Huck," said Tom, "we'll hide the money
in the loft of the widow's woodshed, and I'll come
up in the morning and we'll count it and divide, and
then we'll hunt up a place out in the woods for it
where it will be safe. Just you lay quiet here and
watch the stuff till I run and hook Benny Taylor's
little wagon; I won't be gone a minute."
He disappeared, and presently returned with the
wagon, put the two small sacks into it, threw some
old rags on top of them, and started off, dragging his
cargo behind him. When the boys reached the Welshman'
s house, they stopped to rest. Just as they were
about to move on, the Welshman stepped out and said:
"Hallo, who's that?"
"Huck and Tom Sawyer."
"Good! Come along with me, boys, you are keeping
everybody waiting. Here -- hurry up, trot ahead --
I'll haul the wagon for you. Why, it's not as light as
it might be. Got bricks in it? -- or old metal?"
"Old metal," said Tom.
"I judged so; the boys in this town will take more
trouble and fool away more time hunting up six bits'
worth of old iron to sell to the foundry than they would
to make twice the money at regular work. But that's
human nature -- hurry along, hurry along!"
The boys wanted to know what the hurry was about.
"Never mind; you'll see, when we get to the Widow
Huck said with some apprehension -- for he was
long used to being falsely accused:
"Mr. Jones, we haven't been doing nothing."
The Welshman laughed.
"Well, I don't know, Huck, my boy. I don't know
about that. Ain't you and the widow good friends?"
"Yes. Well, she's ben good friends to me, anyway."
"All right, then. What do you want to be afraid
This question was not entirely answered in Huck's
slow mind before he found himself pushed, along
with Tom, into Mrs. Douglas' drawing-room. Mr.
Jones left the wagon near the door and followed.
The place was grandly lighted, and everybody that
was of any consequence in the village was there. The
Thatchers were there, the Harpers, the Rogerses, Aunt
Polly, Sid, Mary, the minister, the editor, and a great
many more, and all dressed in their best. The widow
received the boys as heartily as any one could well
receive two such looking beings. They were covered
with clay and candle-grease. Aunt Polly blushed
crimson with humiliation, and frowned and shook her
head at Tom. Nobody suffered half as much as the
two boys did, however. Mr. Jones said:
"Tom wasn't at home, yet, so I gave him up; but
I stumbled on him and Huck right at my door, and so
I just brought them along in a hurry."
"And you did just right," said the widow. "Come
with me, boys."
She took them to a bedchamber and said:
"Now wash and dress yourselves. Here are two
new suits of clothes -- shirts, socks, everything complete.
They're Huck's -- no, no thanks, Huck -- Mr. Jones
bought one and I the other. But they'll fit both of
you. Get into them. We'll wait -- come down when
you are slicked up enough."
Then she left.
HUCK said: "Tom, we can slope, if we
can find a rope. The window ain't high
from the ground."
"Shucks! what do you want to slope
"Well, I ain't used to that kind of a
crowd. I can't stand it. I ain't going down there, Tom."
"Oh, bother! It ain't anything. I don't mind it
a bit. I'll take care of you."
"Tom," said he, "auntie has been waiting for you
all the afternoon. Mary got your Sunday clothes
ready, and everybody's been fretting about you. Say
-- ain't this grease and clay, on your clothes?"
"Now, Mr. Siddy, you jist 'tend to your own business.
What's all this blow-out about, anyway?"
"It's one of the widow's parties that she's always
having. This time it's for the Welshman and his
sons, on account of that scrape they helped her out
of the other night. And say -- I can tell you something,
if you want to know."
"Why, old Mr. Jones is going to try to spring something
on the people here to-night, but I overheard him
tell auntie to-day about it, as a secret, but I reckon
it's not much of a secret now. Everybody knows --
the widow, too, for all she tries to let on she don't.
Mr. Jones was bound Huck should be here -- couldn't
get along with his grand secret without Huck, you
"Secret about what, Sid?"
"About Huck tracking the robbers to the widow's.
I reckon Mr. Jones was going to make a grand time
over his surprise, but I bet you it will drop pretty flat."
Sid chuckled in a very contented and satisfied way.
"Sid, was it you that told?"
"Oh, never mind who it was. SOMEBODY told -- that's
"Sid, there's only one person in this town mean
enough to do that, and that's you. If you had been in
Huck's place you'd 'a' sneaked down the hill and never
told anybody on the robbers. You can't do any but
mean things, and you can't bear to see anybody praised
for doing good ones. There -- no thanks, as the widow
says" -- and Tom cuffed Sid's ears and helped him to
the door with several kicks. "Now go and tell auntie
if you dare -- and to-morrow you'll catch it!"
Some minutes later the widow's guests were at the
supper-table, and a dozen children were propped up
at little side-tables in the same room, after the fashion
of that country and that day. At the proper time
Mr. Jones made his little speech, in which he thanked
the widow for the honor she was doing himself and his
sons, but said that there was another person whose
And so forth and so on. He sprung his secret
about Huck's share in the adventure in the finest
dramatic manner he was master of, but the surprise it
occasioned was largely counterfeit and not as clamorous
and effusive as it might have been under happier
circumstances. However, the widow made a pretty
fair show of astonishment, and heaped so many compliments
and so much gratitude upon Huck that he
almost forgot the nearly intolerable discomfort of his
new clothes in the entirely intolerable discomfort of
being set up as a target for everybody's gaze and
The widow said she meant to give Huck a home
under her roof and have him educated; and that
when she could spare the money she would start him
in business in a modest way. Tom's chance was
come. He said:
"Huck don't need it. Huck's rich."
Nothing but a heavy strain upon the good manners
of the company kept back the due and proper complimentary
laugh at this pleasant joke. But the silence
was a little awkward. Tom broke it:
"Huck's got money. Maybe you don't believe it,
but he's got lots of it. Oh, you needn't smile -- I reckon
I can show you. You just wait a minute."
Tom ran out of doors. The company looked at
each other with a perplexed interest -- and inquiringly
at Huck, who was tongue-tied.
"Sid, what ails Tom?" said Aunt Polly. "He -- well,
there ain't ever any making of that boy out. I never --"
Tom entered, struggling with the weight of his sacks,
and Aunt Polly did not finish her sentence. Tom
poured the mass of yellow coin upon the table and said:
"There -- what did I tell you? Half of it's Huck's
and half of it's mine!"
The spectacle took the general breath away. All
gazed, nobody spoke for a moment. Then there was a
unanimous call for an explanation. Tom said he could
furnish it, and he did. The tale was long, but brimful
of interest. There was scarcely an interruption from
any one to break the charm of its flow. When he had
finished, Mr. Jones said:
"I thought I had fixed up a little surprise for this
occasion, but it don't amount to anything now. This
one makes it sing mighty small, I'm willing to allow."
The money was counted. The sum amounted to
a little over twelve thousand dollars. It was more
than any one present had ever seen at one time before,
though several persons were there who were worth
considerably more than that in property.
THE reader may rest satisfied that Tom's
and Huck's windfall made a mighty stir
in the poor little village of St. Petersburg.
So vast a sum, all in actual cash, seemed
next to incredible. It was talked about,
gloated over, glorified, until the reason of
many of the citizens tottered under the strain of the
unhealthy excitement. Every "haunted" house in St.
Petersburg and the neighboring villages was dissected,
plank by plank, and its foundations dug up and ransacked
for hidden treasure -- and not by boys, but men
-- pretty grave, unromantic men, too, some of them.
Wherever Tom and Huck appeared they were courted,
admired, stared at. The boys were not able to remember
that their remarks had possessed weight before;
but now their sayings were treasured and repeated;
everything they did seemed somehow to be regarded as
remarkable; they had evidently lost the power of doing
and saying commonplace things; moreover, their past
history was raked up and discovered to bear marks of
conspicuous originality. The village paper published
biographical sketches of the boys.
The Widow Douglas put Huck's money out at six
per cent., and Judge Thatcher did the same with
Tom's at Aunt Polly's request. Each lad had an income,
now, that was simply prodigious -- a dollar for
every week-day in the year and half of the Sundays.
It was just what the minister got -- no, it was what he
was promised -- he generally couldn't collect it. A
dollar and a quarter a week would board, lodge, and
school a boy in those old simple days -- and clothe him
and wash him, too, for that matter.
Judge Thatcher had conceived a great opinion of
Tom. He said that no commonplace boy would ever
have got his daughter out of the cave. When Becky
told her father, in strict confidence, how Tom had
taken her whipping at school, the Judge was visibly
moved; and when she pleaded grace for the mighty
lie which Tom had told in order to shift that whipping
from her shoulders to his own, the Judge said with a
fine outburst that it was a noble, a generous, a magnanimous
lie -- a lie that was worthy to hold up its head
and march down through history breast to breast with
George Washington's lauded Truth about the hatchet!
Becky thought her father had never looked so tall and
so superb as when he walked the floor and stamped
his foot and said that. She went straight off and told
Tom about it.
Judge Thatcher hoped to see Tom a great lawyer or
a great soldier some day. He said he meant to look
to it that Tom should be admitted to the National
Military Academy and afterward trained in the best
law school in the country, in order that he might be
ready for either career or both.
Huck Finn's wealth and the fact that he was now
under the Widow Douglas' protection introduced him
into society -- no, dragged him into it, hurled him into
it -- and his sufferings were almost more than he could
bear. The widow's servants kept him clean and neat,
combed and brushed, and they bedded him nightly in
unsympathetic sheets that had not one little spot or
stain which he could press to his heart and know for
a friend. He had to eat with a knife and fork; he had
to use napkin, cup, and plate; he had to learn his book,
he had to go to church; he had to talk so properly that
speech was become insipid in his mouth; whithersoever
he turned, the bars and shackles of civilization
shut him in and bound him hand and foot.
He bravely bore his miseries three weeks, and then
one day turned up missing. For forty-eight hours the
widow hunted for him everywhere in great distress.
The public were profoundly concerned; they searched
high and low, they dragged the river for his body.
Early the third morning Tom Sawyer wisely went
poking among some old empty hogsheads down behind
the abandoned slaughter-house, and in one of them
he found the refugee. Huck had slept there; he had
just breakfasted upon some stolen odds and ends of
food, and was lying off, now, in comfort, with his pipe.
He was unkempt, uncombed, and clad in the same old
ruin of rags that had made him picturesque in the days
when he was free and happy. Tom routed him out,
told him the trouble he had been causing, and urged
him to go home. Huck's face lost its tranquil content,
and took a melancholy cast. He said:
"Don't talk about it, Tom. I've tried it, and it
don't work; it don't work, Tom. It ain't for me;
I ain't used to it. The widder's good to me, and
friendly; but I can't stand them ways. She makes
me get up just at the same time every morning; she
makes me wash, they comb me all to thunder; she
won't let me sleep in the woodshed; I got to wear
them blamed clothes that just smothers me, Tom;
they don't seem to any air git through 'em, somehow;
and they're so rotten nice that I can't set down, nor
lay down, nor roll around anywher's; I hain't slid on
a cellar-door for -- well, it 'pears to be years; I got
to go to church and sweat and sweat -- I hate them
ornery sermons! I can't ketch a fly in there, I can't
chaw. I got to wear shoes all Sunday. The widder
eats by a bell; she goes to bed by a bell; she gits up
by a bell -- everything's so awful reg'lar a body can't
"Well, everybody does that way, Huck."
"Tom, it don't make no difference. I ain't everybody,
and I can't STAND it. It's awful to be tied up so.
And grub comes too easy -- I don't take no interest in
vittles, that way. I got to ask to go a-fishing; I got
to ask to go in a-swimming -- dern'd if I hain't got to
ask to do everything. Well, I'd got to talk so nice it
wasn't no comfort -- I'd got to go up in the attic and
rip out awhile, every day, to git a taste in my mouth,
or I'd a died, Tom. The widder wouldn't let me
smoke; she wouldn't let me yell, she wouldn't let me
gape, nor stretch, nor scratch, before folks --" [Then
with a spasm of special irritation and injury] -- "And
dad fetch it, she prayed all the time! I never see such
a woman! I HAD to shove, Tom -- I just had to. And
besides, that school's going to open, and I'd a had to
go to it -- well, I wouldn't stand THAT, Tom. Lookyhere,
Tom, being rich ain't what it's cracked up to be.
It's just worry and worry, and sweat and sweat, and
a-wishing you was dead all the time. Now these
clothes suits me, and this bar'l suits me, and I ain't
ever going to shake 'em any more. Tom, I wouldn't
ever got into all this trouble if it hadn't 'a' ben for
that money; now you just take my sheer of it along
with your'n, and gimme a ten-center sometimes -- not
many times, becuz I don't give a dern for a thing
'thout it's tollable hard to git -- and you go and beg off
for me with the widder."
"Oh, Huck, you know I can't do that. 'Tain't
fair; and besides if you'll try this thing just a while
longer you'll come to like it."
"Like it! Yes -- the way I'd like a hot stove if I
was to set on it long enough. No, Tom, I won't be
rich, and I won't live in them cussed smothery houses.
I like the woods, and the river, and hogsheads, and
I'll stick to 'em, too. Blame it all! just as we'd got
guns, and a cave, and all just fixed to rob, here this
dern foolishness has got to come up and spile it all!"
Tom saw his opportunity --
"Lookyhere, Huck, being rich ain't going to keep
me back from turning robber."
"No! Oh, good-licks; are you in real dead-wood
"Just as dead earnest as I'm sitting here. But
Huck, we can't let you into the gang if you ain't respectable,
Huck's joy was quenched.
"Can't let me in, Tom? Didn't you let me go for
"Yes, but that's different. A robber is more hightoned
than what a pirate is -- as a general thing. In
most countries they're awful high up in the nobility --
dukes and such."
"Now, Tom, hain't you always ben friendly to me?
You wouldn't shet me out, would you, Tom? You
wouldn't do that, now, WOULD you, Tom?"
"Huck, I wouldn't want to, and I DON'T want to --
but what would people say? Why, they'd say, 'Mph!
Tom Sawyer's Gang! pretty low characters in it!'
They'd mean you, Huck. You wouldn't like that, and
Huck was silent for some time, engaged in a mental
struggle. Finally he said:
"Well, I'll go back to the widder for a month and
tackle it and see if I can come to stand it, if you'll
let me b'long to the gang, Tom."
"All right, Huck, it's a whiz! Come along, old
chap, and I'll ask the widow to let up on you a little,
"Will you, Tom -- now will you? That's good. If
she'll let up on some of the roughest things, I'll smoke
private and cuss private, and crowd through or bust.
When you going to start the gang and turn robbers?"
"Oh, right off. We'll get the boys together and
have the initiation to-night, maybe."
"Have the which?"
"Have the initiation."
"It's to swear to stand by one another, and never
tell the gang's secrets, even if you're chopped all to
flinders, and kill anybody and all his family that hurts
one of the gang."
"That's gay -- that's mighty gay, Tom, I tell you."
"Well, I bet it is. And all that swearing's got to
be done at midnight, in the lonesomest, awfulest place
you can find -- a ha'nted house is the best, but they're
all ripped up now."
"Well, midnight's good, anyway, Tom."
"Yes, so it is. And you've got to swear on a coffin,
and sign it with blood."
"Now, that's something LIKE! Why, it's a million
times bullier than pirating. I'll stick to the widder
till I rot, Tom; and if I git to be a reg'lar ripper of a
robber, and everybody talking 'bout it, I reckon she'll
be proud she snaked me in out of the wet."
SO endeth this chronicle. It being strictly
a history of a BOY, it must stop here; the
story could not go much further without
becoming the history of a MAN. When
one writes a novel about grown people, he
knows exactly where to stop -- that is,
with a marriage; but when he writes of juveniles, he
must stop where he best can.
Most of the characters that perform in this book
still live, and are prosperous and happy. Some day
it may seem worth while to take up the story of the
younger ones again and see what sort of men and
women they turned out to be; therefore it will be
wisest not to reveal any of that part of their lives at