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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Author:Mark Twain


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer describes the lives of people in a small town on the Mississippi River in the nineteenth century , which can be said to be a microcosm of American social life at that time. The little protagonist of the book, Tom Sawyer, is a growing child. He is naughty and likes pranks; but he is kind and helpful. He hates the dry preaching of the teachers in the church. He doesn't like the dry and tasteless life in school all day. He yearns to be a good man in the green forest. He hopes to join the pirates and live a fresh and exciting life. One day, he asked his friend Huck to go to the cemetery to play at night, and witnessed the tragedy of Yijiang's murder. Through ideological struggle, he revealed the evil of Yijiang. Yijiang attempted to kill Tom, but fell into a deep valley and died. Tom and Huck found a box of gold buried by Yijiang , and they were divided equally, and they became rich.
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  No answer.


  No answer.

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

  No answer.

  The old lady pulled her spectacles down and looked over them about theroom; then she put them up and looked out under them. She seldom ornever looked _through_ them for so small a thing as a boy; they wereher state pair, the pride of her heart, and were built for “style,” notservice--she could have seen through a pair of stove-lids just as well.She looked perplexed for a moment, and then said, not fiercely, butstill loud enough for the furniture to hear:

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

  She did not finish, for by this time she was bending down and punchingunder the bed with the broom, and so she needed breath to punctuate thepunches with. She resurrected nothing but the cat.

  “I never did see the beat of that boy!”

  She went to the open door and stood in it and looked out among thetomato vines and “jimpson” weeds that constituted the garden. No Tom. Soshe lifted up her voice at an angle calculated for distance and shouted:

  “Y-o-u-u TOM!”

  There was a slight noise behind her and she turned just in time to seizea small boy by the slack of his roundabout and arrest his flight.

  “There! I might 'a' thought of that closet. What you been doing inthere?”


  “Nothing! Look at your hands. And look at your mouth. What _is_ thattruck?”

  “I don't know, aunt.”

  “Well, I know. It's jam--that's what it is. Forty times I've said if youdidn'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, anddisappeared over it.

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

  “Hang the boy, can't I never learn anything? Ain't he played me tricksenough like that for me to be looking out for him by this time? But oldfools is the biggest fools there is. Can't learn an old dog new tricks,as the saying is. But my goodness, he never plays them alike, two days,and how is a body to know what's coming? He 'pears to know just how longhe can torment me before I get my dander up, and he knows if he can makeout to put me off for a minute or make me laugh, it's all down again andI can't hit him a lick. I ain't doing my duty by that boy, and that'sthe 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 owndead 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, andevery time I hit him my old heart most breaks. Well-a-well, man that isborn of woman is of few days and full of trouble, as the Scripturesays, 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,tomorrow, 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 hehates anything else, and I've _got_ to do some of my duty by him, orI'll be the ruination of the child.”

  Tom did play hookey, and he had a very good time. He got back homebarely in season to help Jim, the small colored boy, saw next-day's woodand split the kindlings before supper--at least he was there in timeto tell his adventures to Jim while Jim did three-fourths of the work.Tom's younger brother

or rather half-brother

Sid was already throughwith his part of the work

picking up chips

, for he was a quiet boy,and had no adventurous, trouble-some ways.

  While Tom was eating his supper, and stealing sugar as opportunityoffered, Aunt Polly asked him questions that were full of guile, andvery deep--for she wanted to trap him into damaging revealments. Likemany other simple-hearted souls, it was her pet vanity to believe shewas endowed with a talent for dark and mysterious diplomacy, and sheloved to contemplate her most transparent devices as marvels of lowcunning. Said she:

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


  “Powerful warm, warn't it?”


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

  A bit of a scare shot through Tom--a touch of uncomfortable suspicion. Hesearched Aunt Polly's face, but it told him nothing. So he said:

  “No'm--well, not very much.”

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

  “But you ain't too warm now, though.” And it flattered her to reflectthat she had discovered that the shirt was dry without anybody knowingthat that was what she had in her mind. But in spite of her, Tom knewwhere the wind lay, now. So he forestalled what might be the next move:

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

  Aunt Polly was vexed to think she had overlooked that bit ofcircumstantial evidence, and missed a trick. Then she had a newinspiration:

  “Tom, you didn't have to undo your shirt collar where I sewed it, topump on your head, did you? Unbutton your jacket!”

  The trouble vanished out of Tom's face. He opened his jacket. His shirtcollar was securely sewed.

  “Bother! Well, go 'long with you. I'd made sure you'd played hookeyand been a-swimming. But I forgive ye, Tom. I reckon you're a kind of asinged cat, as the saying is--better'n you look. _This_ time.”

  She was half sorry her sagacity had miscarried, and half glad that Tomhad stumbled into obedient conduct for once.

  But Sidney said:

  “Well, now, if I didn't think you sewed his collar with white thread,but it's black.”

  “Why, I did sew it with white! Tom!”

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

  “Siddy, I'll lick you for that.”

  In a safe place Tom examined two large needles which were thrust intothe lapels of his jacket, and had thread bound about them--one needlecarried white thread and the other black. He said:

  “She'd never noticed if it hadn't been for Sid. Confound it! sometimesshe sews it with white, and sometimes she sews it with black. I wish togee-miny she'd stick to one or t'other--I can't keep the run of 'em. ButI bet you I'll lam Sid for that. I'll learn him!”

  He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very wellthough--and loathed him.

  Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles. Notbecause his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to him than aman's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest borethem down and drove them out of his mind for the time--just as men'smisfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. This newinterest was a valued novelty in whistling, which he had just acquiredfrom a negro, and he was suffering to practise it un-disturbed. Itconsisted in a peculiar bird-like turn, a sort of liquid warble,produced by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth at shortintervals in the midst of the music--the reader probably remembers how todo it, if he has ever been a boy. Diligence and attention soon gave himthe knack of it, and he strode down the street with his mouth full ofharmony and his soul full of gratitude. He felt much as an astronomerfeels who has discovered a new planet--no doubt, as far as strong, deep,unalloyed pleasure is concerned, the advantage was with the boy, not theastronomer.

  The summer evenings were long. It was not dark, yet. Presently Tomchecked his whistle. A stranger was before him--a boy a shade largerthan himself. A new-comer of any age or either sex was an im-pressivecuriosity in the poor little shabby village of St. Petersburg. This boywas well dressed, too--well dressed on a week-day. This was simply asastounding. His cap was a dainty thing, his close-buttoned blue clothroundabout was new and natty, and so were his pantaloons. He had shoeson--and it was only Friday. He even wore a necktie, a bright bit ofribbon. He had a citified air about him that ate into Tom's vitals. Themore Tom stared at the splendid marvel, the higher he turned up his noseat his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his own outfit seemed tohim to grow. Neither boy spoke. If one moved, the other moved--but onlysidewise, in a circle; they kept face to face and eye to eye all thetime. Finally Tom said:

  “I can lick you!”

  “I'd like to see you try it.”

  “Well, I can do it.”

  “No you can't, either.”

  “Yes I can.”

  “No you can't.”

  “I can.”

  “You can't.”



  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 withone hand tied behind me, if I wanted to.”

  “Well why don't you _do_ it? You _say_ you can do it.”

  “Well I _will_, if you fool with me.”

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

  “Smarty! You think you're _some_, now, _don't_ you? Oh, what a hat!”

  “You can lump that hat if you don't like it. I dare you to knock itoff--and anybody that'll take a dare will suck eggs.”

  “You're a liar!”

  “You're another.”

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

  “Aw--take a walk!”

  “Say--if you give me much more of your sass I'll take and bounce a rockoff'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 willfor? Why don't you _do_ it? It's because you're afraid.”

  “I _ain't_ afraid.”

  “You are.”

  “I ain't.”

  “You are.”

  Another pause, and more eying and sidling around each other. Presentlythey were shoulder to shoulder. Tom said:

  “Get away from here!”

  “Go away yourself!”

  “I won't.”

  “I won't either.”

  So they stood, each with a foot placed at an angle as a brace, and bothshoving with might and main, and glowering at each other with hate. Butneither could get an advantage. After struggling till both were hot andflushed, 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 canthrash 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 biggerthan he is--and what's more, he can throw him over that fence, too.”[Both brothers were imaginary.]

  “That's a lie.”

  “_Your_ saying so don't make it so.”

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

  “I dare you to step over that, and I'll lick you till you can't standup. Anybody that'll take a dare will steal sheep.”

  The new boy stepped over promptly, and said:

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

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

  “Well, you _said_ you'd do it--why don't you do it?”

  “By jingo! for two cents I _will_ do it.”

  The new boy took two broad coppers out of his pocket and held them outwith derision. Tom struck them to the ground. In an instant both boyswere rolling and tumbling in the dirt, gripped together like cats; andfor the space of a minute they tugged and tore at each other's hair andclothes, punched and scratched each other's nose, and covered themselveswith dust and glory. Presently the confusion took form, and through thefog of battle Tom appeared, seated astride the new boy, and pounding himwith 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 andsaid:

  “Now that'll learn you. Better look out who you're fooling with nexttime.”

  The new boy went off brushing the dust from his clothes, sobbing,snuffling, and occasionally looking back and shaking his head andthreatening 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, andas soon as his back was turned the new boy snatched up a stone, threw itand hit him between the shoulders and then turned tail and ran likean antelope. Tom chased the traitor home, and thus found out where helived. He then held a position at the gate for some time, daring theenemy to come outside, but the enemy only made faces at him through thewindow and declined. At last the enemy's mother appeared, and called Toma bad, vicious, vulgar child, and ordered him away. So he went away; buthe said he “'lowed” to “lay” for that boy.

  He got home pretty late that night, and when he climbed cautiously inat the window, he uncovered an ambuscade, in the person of his aunt; andwhen she saw the state his clothes were in her resolution to turn hisSaturday holiday into captivity at hard labor became adamantine in itsfirmness.