The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain, Part XLII

Tom Sawyer

Every day on Daily Readers' Book Club we offer an article length section of a book until that book is done.  We are currently reading Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  This book will have 90 parts.

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.

CHAPTER XVI

AFTER dinner all the gang turned out to hunt for turtle eggs on the
bar.  They went about poking sticks into the sand, and when they found a
soft place they went down on their knees and dug with their hands.
Sometimes they would take fifty or sixty eggs out of one hole.  They
were perfectly round white things a trifle smaller than an English
walnut.  They had a famous fried-egg feast that night, and another on
Friday morning.

After breakfast they went whooping and prancing out on the bar, and
chased each other round and round, shedding clothes as they went, until
they were naked, and then continued the frolic far away up the shoal
water of the bar, against the stiff current, which latter tripped their
legs from under them from time to time and greatly increased the fun.
And now and then they stooped in a group and splashed water in each
other's faces with their palms, gradually approaching each other, with
averted faces to avoid the strangling sprays, and finally gripping and
struggling till the best man ducked his neighbor, and then they all
went under in a tangle of white legs and arms and came up blowing,
sputtering, laughing, and gasping for breath at one and the same time.

When they were well exhausted, they would run out and sprawl on the
dry, hot sand, and lie there and cover themselves up with it, and by
and by break for the water again and go through the original
performance once more.  Finally it occurred to them that their naked
skin represented flesh-colored "tights" very fairly; so they drew a
ring in the sand and had a circus--with three clowns in it, for none
would yield this proudest post to his neighbor.

Next they got their marbles and played "knucks" and "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.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is available from amazon.com.


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