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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Part 5.

Mark Twain

  Produced by David Widger


  Part 5


  THAT was Tom's great secret--the scheme to return home with hisbrother pirates and attend their own funerals. They had paddled over tothe Missouri shore on a log, at dusk on Saturday, landing five or sixmiles below the village; they had slept in the woods at the edge of thetown till nearly daylight, and had then crept through back lanes andalleys and finished their sleep in the gallery of the church among achaos of invalided benches.

  At breakfast, Monday morning, Aunt Polly and Mary were very loving toTom, and very attentive to his wants. There was an unusual amount oftalk. In the course of it Aunt Polly said:

  "Well, I don't say it wasn't a fine joke, Tom, to keep everybodysuffering 'most a week so you boys had a good time, but it is a pityyou could be so hard-hearted as to let me suffer so. If you could comeover on a log to go to your funeral, you could have come over and giveme a hint some way that you warn't dead, but only run off."

  "Yes, you could have done that, Tom," said Mary; "and I believe youwould if you had thought of it."

  "Would you, Tom?" said Aunt Polly, her face lighting wistfully. "Say,now, would you, if you'd thought of it?"

  "I--well, I don't know. 'Twould 'a' spoiled everything."

  "Tom, I hoped you loved me that much," said Aunt Polly, with a grievedtone that discomforted the boy. "It would have been something if you'dcared 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'sgiddy way--he is always in such a rush that he never thinks ofanything."

  "More's the pity. Sid would have thought. And Sid would have come andDONE it, too. Tom, you'll look back, some day, when it's too late, andwish you'd cared a little more for me when it would have cost you solittle."

  "Now, auntie, you know I do care for you," said Tom.

  "I'd know it better if you acted more like it."

  "I wish now I'd thought," said Tom, with a repentant tone; "but Idreamt 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 thebed, 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 takeeven that much trouble about us."

  "And I dreamt that Joe Harper's mother was here."

  "Why, she was here! Did you dream any more?"

  "Oh, lots. But it's so dim, now."

  "Well, try to recollect--can't you?"

  "Somehow it seems to me that the wind--the wind blowed the--the--"

  "Try harder, Tom! The wind did blow something. Come!"

  Tom pressed his fingers on his forehead an anxious minute, and thensaid:

  "I've got it now! I've got it now! It blowed the candle!"

  "Mercy on us! Go on, Tom--go on!"

  "And it seems to me that you said, 'Why, I believe that that door--'"

  "Go ON, Tom!"

  "Just let me study a moment--just a moment. Oh, yes--you said youbelieved 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 ifyou 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 mydays! Don't tell ME there ain't anything in dreams, any more. SerenyHarper shall know of this before I'm an hour older. I'd like to see herget around THIS with her rubbage 'bout superstition. Go on, Tom!"

  "Oh, it's all getting just as bright as day, now. Next you said Iwarn't BAD, only mischeevous and harum-scarum, and not any moreresponsible than--than--I think it was a colt, or something."

  "And so it was! Well, goodness gracious! Go on, Tom!"

  "And then you began to cry."

  "So I did. So I did. Not the first time, neither. And then--"

  "Then Mrs. Harper she began to cry, and said Joe was just the same,and she wished she hadn't whipped him for taking cream when she'dthrowed it out her own self--"

  "Tom! The sperrit was upon you! You was a prophesying--that's what youwas 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 goneto, 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 angelthere, somewheres!"

  "And Mrs. Harper told about Joe scaring her with a firecracker, andyou 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 forus, and 'bout having the funeral Sunday, and then you and old MissHarper hugged and cried, and she went."

  "It happened just so! It happened just so, as sure as I'm a-sitting inthese 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 everyword you said. And you went to bed, and I was so sorry that I took andwrote on a piece of sycamore bark, 'We ain't dead--we are only offbeing pirates,' and put it on the table by the candle; and then youlooked so good, laying there asleep, that I thought I went and leanedover and kissed you on the lips."

  "Did you, Tom, DID you! I just forgive you everything for that!" Andshe seized the boy in a crushing embrace that made him feel like theguiltiest of villains.

  "It was very kind, even though it was only a--dream," Sid soliloquizedjust audibly.

  "Shut up, Sid! A body does just the same in a dream as he'd do if hewas awake. Here's a big Milum apple I've been saving for you, Tom, ifyou was ever found again--now go 'long to school. I'm thankful to thegood God and Father of us all I've got you back, that's long-sufferingand merciful to them that believe on Him and keep His word, thoughgoodness knows I'm unworthy of it, but if only the worthy ones got Hisblessings and had His hand to help them over the rough places, there'sfew enough would smile here or ever enter into His rest when the longnight comes. Go 'long Sid, Mary, Tom--take yourselves off--you'vehendered me long enough."

  The children left for school, and the old lady to call on Mrs. Harperand vanquish her realism with Tom's marvellous dream. Sid had betterjudgment than to utter the thought that was in his mind as he left thehouse. It was this: "Pretty thin--as long a dream as that, without anymistakes 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 thepublic eye was on him. And indeed it was; he tried not to seem to seethe looks or hear the remarks as he passed along, but they were foodand drink to him. Smaller boys than himself flocked at his heels, asproud to be seen with him, and tolerated by him, as if he had been thedrummer at the head of a procession or the elephant leading a menagerieinto town. Boys of his own size pretended not to know he had been awayat all; but they were consuming with envy, nevertheless. They wouldhave given anything to have that swarthy suntanned skin of his, and hisglittering notori
ety; and Tom would not have parted with either for acircus.

  At school the children made so much of him and of Joe, and deliveredsuch eloquent admiration from their eyes, that the two heroes were notlong in becoming insufferably "stuck-up." They began to tell theiradventures to hungry listeners--but they only began; it was not a thinglikely to have an end, with imaginations like theirs to furnishmaterial. And finally, when they got out their pipes and went serenelypuffing around, the very summit of glory was reached.

  Tom decided that he could be independent of Becky Thatcher now. Glorywas sufficient. He would live for glory. Now that he was distinguished,maybe she would be wanting to "make up." Well, let her--she should seethat he could be as indifferent as some other people. Presently shearrived. Tom pretended not to see her. He moved away and joined a groupof boys and girls and began to talk. Soon he observed that she wastripping gayly back and forth with flushed face and dancing eyes,pretending to be busy chasing schoolmates, and screaming with laughterwhen she made a capture; but he noticed that she always made hercaptures in his vicinity, and that she seemed to cast a conscious eyein his direction at such times, too. It gratified all the viciousvanity that was in him; and so, instead of winning him, it only "sethim up" the more and made him the more diligent to avoid betraying thathe knew she was about. Presently she gave over skylarking, and movedirresolutely about, sighing once or twice and glancing furtively andwistfully toward Tom. Then she observed that now Tom was talking moreparticularly to Amy Lawrence than to any one else. She felt a sharppang and grew disturbed and uneasy at once. She tried to go away, buther feet were treacherous, and carried her to the group instead. Shesaid to a girl almost at Tom's elbow--with sham vivacity:

  "Why, Mary Austin! you bad girl, why didn't you come to Sunday-school?"

  "I did come--didn't you see me?"

  "Why, no! Did you? Where did you sit?"

  "I was in Miss Peters' class, where I always go. I saw YOU."

  "Did you? Why, it's funny I didn't see you. I wanted to tell you aboutthe 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 Iwant, 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 glancedever so furtively at Tom, but he talked right along to Amy Lawrenceabout the terrible storm on the island, and how the lightning tore thegreat sycamore tree "all to flinders" while he was "standing withinthree 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 beggedfor invitations but Tom and Amy. Then Tom turned coolly away, stilltalking, and took Amy with him. Becky's lips trembled and the tearscame to her eyes; she hid these signs with a forced gayety and went onchattering, but the life had gone out of the picnic, now, and out ofeverything else; she got away as soon as she could and hid herself andhad what her sex call "a good cry." Then she sat moody, with woundedpride, till the bell rang. She roused up, now, with a vindictive castin her eye, and gave her plaited tails a shake and said she knew whatSHE'D do.

  At recess Tom continued his flirtation with Amy with jubilantself-satisfaction. And he kept drifting about to find Becky and lacerateher with the performance. At last he spied her, but there was a suddenfalling of his mercury. She was sitting cosily on a little bench behindthe schoolhouse looking at a picture-book with Alfred Temple--and soabsorbed 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 forthrowing away the chance Becky had offered for a reconciliation. Hecalled himself a fool, and all the hard names he could think of. Hewanted to cry with vexation. Amy chatted happily along, as they walked,for her heart was singing, but Tom's tongue had lost its function. Hedid not hear what Amy was saying, and whenever she paused expectantly hecould only stammer an awkward assent, which was as often misplaced asotherwise. He kept drifting to the rear of the schoolhouse, again andagain, to sear his eyeballs with the hateful spectacle there. He couldnot help it. And it maddened him to see, as he thought he saw, thatBecky Thatcher never once suspected that he was even in the land of theliving. But she did see, nevertheless; and she knew she was winning herfight, too, and was glad to see him suffer as she had suffered.

  Amy's happy prattle became intolerable. Tom hinted at things he had toattend to; things that must be done; and time was fleeting. But invain--the girl chirped on. Tom thought, "Oh, hang her, ain't I evergoing to get rid of her?" At last he must be attending to thosethings--and she said artlessly that she would be "around" when schoollet out. And he hastened away, hating her for it.

  "Any other boy!" Tom thought, grating his teeth. "Any boy in the wholetown but that Saint Louis smarty that thinks he dresses so fine and isaristocracy! Oh, all right, I licked you the first day you ever sawthis town, mister, and I'll lick you again! You just wait till I catchyou 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? Youholler 'nough, do you? Now, then, let that learn you!" And so theimaginary flogging was finished to his satisfaction.

  Tom fled home at noon. His conscience could not endure any more ofAmy's grateful happiness, and his jealousy could bear no more of theother distress. Becky resumed her picture inspections with Alfred, butas the minutes dragged along and no Tom came to suffer, her triumphbegan to cloud and she lost interest; gravity and absent-mindednessfollowed, and then melancholy; two or three times she pricked up herear at a footstep, but it was a false hope; no Tom came. At last shegrew entirely miserable and wished she hadn't carried it so far. Whenpoor Alfred, seeing that he was losing her, he did not know how, keptexclaiming: "Oh, here's a jolly one! look at this!" she lost patienceat last, and said, "Oh, don't bother me! I don't care for them!" andburst into tears, and got up and walked away.

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

  "Go away and leave me alone, can't you! I hate you!"

  So the boy halted, wondering what he could have done--for she had saidshe would look at pictures all through the nooning--and she walked on,crying. Then Alfred went musing into the deserted schoolhouse. He washumiliated and angry. He easily guessed his way to the truth--the girlhad 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 muchrisk to himself. Tom's spelling-book fell under his eye. Here was hisopportunity. He gratefully opened to the lesson for the afternoon andpoured ink upon the page.

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