Excerpt from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
In this book, readers learn that Tom Sawyer likes a girl named Becky Thatcher; however, they have an argument and are not speaking to each other. Tom becomes concerned when Becky stops coming to school. Eventually, much to Tom’s delight, Becky comes back to school. Tom starts to show off because he desperately wants Becky to notice him, but he is stunned when Becky says, "Mf! some people think they’re mighty smart— always showing off!"
Tom is embarrassed and heartbroken and thinks no one loves him, so he decides to run away from home and become a pirate. Tom talks his friends, Joe Harper and Huckleberry Finn, into running away with him. They decide to raft down the river to Jackson Island and begin their pirate adventure. Now read what happens next.
1. 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.
2. 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 civilization.
3. 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. . .
4. "What is it!" exclaimed Joe, under his breath.
5. "I wonder," said Tom in a whisper.
6. "’Tain’t thunder," said Huckleberry, in an awed tone, "becuz thunder—"
7. "Hark!" said Tom. "Listen—don’t talk."
8. They waited a time that seemed an age, and then the same muffled boom troubled the solemn hush.
9. "Let’s go and see."
10. 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 ferry-boat 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.
11. I know now!" exclaimed Tom; "somebody’s drownded!"
12. The boys still listened and watched. Presently a revealing thought flashed through Tom’s mind, and he exclaimed:
13. "Boys, I know who’s drownded—it’s us!"
14. 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.
15. A few minutes later Tom was in the shoal water of the bar, wading toward the Illinois shore. Shortly before ten o’clock he came out into an open place opposite the village . . . He flew along unfrequented alleys, and shortly found himself at his aunt’s back fence. . . Tom went to the door and began to softly lift the latch; then he pressed gently and the door yielded a crack.
16. "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."
17. 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.
18. "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. . .
19. 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 . . . Mrs. Harper gave a sobbing goodnight 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 goodnight to Sid and Mary. Sid snuffled a bit and Mary went off crying with all her heart.
20. 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 . . . But at last she was still, only moaning a little in her sleep . . . Then he bent over and kissed the faded lips, and straightway made his stealthy exit, latching the door behind him.