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Home -> Mark Twain -> The Adventures of Tom Sawyer -> Chapter 6

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Chapter 6

1. Chapter 1

2. Chapter 2

3. Chapter 3

4. Chapter 4

5. Chapter 5

6. Chapter 6

7. Chapter 7

8. Chapter 8

9. Chapter 9

10. Chapter 10

11. Chapter 11

12. Chapter 12

13. Chapter 13

14. Chapter 14

15. Chapter 15

16. Chapter 16

17. Chapter 17

18. Chapter 18

19. Chapter 19

20. Chapter 20

21. Chapter 21

22. Chapter 22

23. Chapter 23

24. Chapter 24

25. Chapter 25

26. Chapter 26

27. Chapter 27

28. Chapter 28

29. Chapter 29

30. Chapter 30

31. Chapter 31

32. Chapter 32

33. Chapter 33

34. Chapter 34

35. Chapter 35

36. Conclusion

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 spirit.

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 auntie."

"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

"Hours. Ouch! Oh, don't stir so, Sid, you'll kill me."

"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 tooth?"

"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."

Tom said:

"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 from school."

"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, Huckleberry!"

"Hello yourself, and see how you like it."

"What's that you got?"

"Dead cat."

"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 slaughter-house."

"Where'd you get the blue ticket?"

"Bought it off'n Ben Rogers two weeks ago for a hoop-stick."

"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?"

"Why, spunk-water."

"Spunk-water! I wouldn't give a dern for spunk-water."

"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 spunk-water 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

"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
spunk-water. 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 a witch."

"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 a-witching him?"

"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 Williams to-night."

"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 with you?"

"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--what's that?"

"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.

"Thomas Sawyer!"

Tom knew that when his name was pronounced in full, it meant trouble.


"Come up here. Now, sir, why are you late again, as usual?"

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 schoolhouse. He instantly said:


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 master said:

"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

The master's arm performed until it was tired and the stock of
switches notably diminished. Then the order followed:

"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 whispered:

"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

"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 along."

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

"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."

"You'll tell."

"No I won't--deed and deed and double deed won't."

"You won't tell anybody at all? Ever, as long as you live?"

"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 YOU."

"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 was jubilant.

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.

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