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Chapter 18

  • That was Tom's great secret — the scheme to return home with his brothe_irates and attend their own funerals. They had paddled over to the Missour_hore on a log, at dusk on Saturday, landing five or six miles below th_illage; they had slept in the woods at the edge of the town till nearl_aylight, and had then crept through back lanes and alleys and finished thei_leep in the gallery of the church among a chaos of invalided benches.
  • At breakfast, Monday morning, Aunt Polly and Mary were very loving to Tom, an_ery attentive to his wants. There was an unusual amount of talk. In th_ourse of it Aunt Polly said:
  • "Well, I don't say it wasn't a fine joke, Tom, to keep everybody suffering
  • 'most a week so you boys had a good time, but it is a pity you could be s_ard-hearted as to let me suffer so. If you could come over on a log to go t_our funeral, you could have come over and give me a hint some way that yo_arn't dead, but only run off."
  • "Yes, you could have done that, Tom," said Mary; "and I believe you would i_ou 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 grieved ton_hat discomforted the boy. "It would have been something if you'd cared enoug_o think of it, even if you didn't do it."
  • "Now, auntie, that ain't any harm," pleaded Mary; "it's only Tom's giddy way — he is always in such a rush that he never thinks of anything."
  • "More's the pity. Sid would have thought. And Sid would have come and done it, too. Tom, you'll look back, some day, when it's too late, and wish you'd care_ little more for me when it would have cost you so little."
  • "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 I dreamt abou_ou, anyway. That's something, ain't it?"
  • "It ain't much — a cat does that much — but it's better than nothing. What di_ou dream?"
  • "Why, Wednesday night I dreamt that you was sitting over there by the bed, an_id was sitting by the woodbox, and Mary next to him."
  • "Well, so we did. So we always do. I'm glad your dreams could take even tha_uch 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 then said:
  • "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 you believe_he 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 if yo_ade 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 my days!
  • Don't tell me there ain't anything in dreams, any more. Sereny Harper shal_now of this before I'm an hour older. I'd like to see her get around thi_ith her rubbage 'bout superstition. Go on, Tom!"
  • "Oh, it's all getting just as bright as day, now. Next you said I warn't bad, only mischeevous and harum-scarum, and not any more responsible 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 sh_ished she hadn't whipped him for taking cream when she'd throwed it out he_wn self —"
  • "Tom! The sperrit was upon you! You was a prophesying — that's what you wa_oing! 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 gone to, bu_f 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 angel there, somewheres!"
  • "And Mrs. Harper told about Joe scaring her with a firecracker, and you tol_bout Peter and the Painkiller —"
  • "Just as true as I live!"
  • "And then there was a whole lot of talk 'bout dragging the river for us, and
  • 'bout having the funeral Sunday, and then you and old Miss Harper hugged an_ried, and she went."
  • "It happened just so! It happened just so, as sure as I'm a-sitting in thes_ery tracks. Tom, you couldn't told it more like if you'd 'a' seen it! An_hen what? Go on, Tom!"
  • "Then I thought you prayed for me — and I could see you and hear every wor_ou said. And you went to bed, and I was so sorry that I took and wrote on _iece of sycamore bark, 'We ain't dead — we are only off being pirates,' an_ut it on the table by the candle; and then you looked so good, laying ther_sleep, that I thought I went and leaned over and kissed you on the lips."
  • "Did you, Tom, did you! I just forgive you everything for that!" And sh_eized the boy in a crushing embrace that made him feel like the guiltiest o_illains.
  • "It was very kind, even though it was only a — dream," Sid soliloquized jus_udibly.
  • "Shut up, Sid! A body does just the same in a dream as he'd do if he wa_wake. Here's a big Milum apple I've been saving for you, Tom, if you was eve_ound again — now go 'long to school. I'm thankful to the good God and Fathe_f us all I've got you back, that's long-suffering and merciful to them tha_elieve on Him and keep His word, though goodness knows I'm unworthy of it, but if only the worthy ones got His blessings and had His hand to help the_ver the rough places, there's few enough would smile here or ever enter int_is rest when the long night comes. Go 'long Sid, Mary, Tom — take yourselve_ff — you've hendered me long enough."
  • The children left for school, and the old lady to call on Mrs. Harper an_anquish her realism with Tom's marvellous dream. Sid had better judgment tha_o utter the thought that was in his mind as he left the house. It was this:
  • "Pretty thin — as long a dream as that, without any mistakes in it!"
  • What a hero Tom was become, now! He did not go skipping and prancing, bu_oved with a dignified swagger as became a pirate who felt that the public ey_as on him. And indeed it was; he tried not to seem to see the looks or hea_he remarks as he passed along, but they were food and drink to him. Smalle_oys than himself flocked at his heels, as proud to be seen with him, an_olerated by him, as if he had been the drummer at the head of a procession o_he elephant leading a menagerie into town. Boys of his own size pretended no_o know he had been away at all; but they were consuming with envy, nevertheless. They would have given anything to have that swarthy suntanne_kin of his, and his glittering notoriety; and Tom would not have parted wit_ither for a circus.
  • At school the children made so much of him and of Joe, and delivered suc_loquent admiration from their eyes, that the two heroes were not long i_ecoming insufferably "stuck-up." They began to tell their adventures t_ungry listeners — but they only began; it was not a thing likely to have a_nd, with imaginations like theirs to furnish material. And finally, when the_ot out their pipes and went serenely puffing around, the very summit of glor_as reached.
  • Tom decided that he could be independent of Becky Thatcher now. Glory wa_ufficient. He would live for glory. Now that he was distinguished, maybe sh_ould be wanting to "make up." Well, let her — she should see that he could b_s indifferent as some other people. Presently she arrived. Tom pretended no_o see her. He moved away and joined a group of boys and girls and began t_alk. Soon he observed that she was tripping gayly back and forth with flushe_ace and dancing eyes, pretending to be busy chasing schoolmates, an_creaming with laughter when she made a capture; but he noticed that sh_lways made her captures in his vicinity, and that she seemed to cast _onscious eye in his direction at such times, too. It gratified all th_icious vanity that was in him; and so, instead of winning him, it only "se_im up" the more and made him the more diligent to avoid betraying that h_new she was about. Presently she gave over skylarking, and moved irresolutel_bout, sighing once or twice and glancing furtively and wistfully toward Tom.
  • Then she observed that now Tom was talking more particularly to Amy Lawrenc_han to any one else. She felt a sharp pang and grew disturbed and uneasy a_nce. She tried to go away, but her feet were treacherous, and carried her t_he group instead. She said to a girl almost at Tom's elbow — with sha_ivacity:
  • "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 about th_icnic."
  • "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 I want, an_ 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 glanced eve_o furtively at Tom, but he talked right along to Amy Lawrence about th_errible storm on the island, and how the lightning tore the great sycamor_ree "all to flinders" while he was "standing within three feet of it."
  • "Oh, may I come?" said Grace Miller.
  • "Yes."
  • "And me?" said Sally Rogers.
  • "Yes."
  • "And me, too?" said Susy Harper. "And Joe?"
  • "Yes."
  • And so on, with clapping of joyful hands till all the group had begged fo_nvitations but Tom and Amy. Then Tom turned coolly away, still talking, an_ook Amy with him. Becky's lips trembled and the tears came to her eyes; sh_id these signs with a forced gayety and went on chattering, but the life ha_one out of the picnic, now, and out of everything else; she got away as soo_s she could and hid herself and had what her sex call "a good cry." Then sh_at moody, with wounded pride, till the bell rang. She roused up, now, with _indictive cast in her eye, and gave her plaited tails a shake and said sh_new what she'd do.
  • At recess Tom continued his flirtation with Amy with jubilant self- satisfaction. And he kept drifting about to find Becky and lacerate her wit_he performance. At last he spied her, but there was a sudden falling of hi_ercury. She was sitting cosily on a little bench behind the schoolhous_ooking at a picture-book with Alfred Temple — and so absorbed were they, an_heir heads so close together over the book, that they did not seem to b_onscious of anything in the world besides. Jealousy ran red-hot through Tom'_eins. He began to hate himself for throwing away the chance Becky had offere_or a reconciliation. He called himself a fool, and all the hard names h_ould think of. He wanted to cry with vexation. Amy chatted happily along, a_hey walked, for her heart was singing, but Tom's tongue had lost it_unction. He did not hear what Amy was saying, and whenever she pause_xpectantly he could only stammer an awkward assent, which was as ofte_isplaced as otherwise. He kept drifting to the rear of the schoolhouse, agai_nd again, to sear his eyeballs with the hateful spectacle there. He could no_elp it. And it maddened him to see, as he thought he saw, that Becky Thatche_ever once suspected that he was even in the land of the living. But she di_ee, nevertheless; and she knew she was winning her fight, too, and was gla_o see him suffer as she had suffered.
  • Amy's happy prattle became intolerable. Tom hinted at things he had to atten_o; things that must be done; and time was fleeting. But in vain — the gir_hirped on. Tom thought, "Oh, hang her, ain't I ever going to get rid of her?"
  • At last he must be attending to those things — and she said artlessly that sh_ould be "around" when school let out. And he hastened away, hating her fo_t.
  • "Any other boy!" Tom thought, grating his teeth. "Any boy in the whole tow_ut that Saint Louis smarty that thinks he dresses so fine and is aristocracy!
  • Oh, all right, I licked you the first day you ever saw this town, mister, an_'ll lick you again! You just wait till I catch you out! I'll just take and —"
  • And he went through the motions of thrashing an imaginary boy — pummelling th_ir, and kicking and gouging. "Oh, you do, do you? You holler 'nough, do you?
  • Now, then, let that learn you!" And so the imaginary flogging was finished t_is satisfaction.
  • Tom fled home at noon. His conscience could not endure any more of Amy'_rateful happiness, and his jealousy could bear no more of the other distress.
  • Becky resumed her picture inspections with Alfred, but as the minutes dragge_long and no Tom came to suffer, her triumph began to cloud and she los_nterest; gravity and absent-mindedness followed, and then melancholy; two o_hree times she pricked up her ear at a footstep, but it was a false hope; n_om came. At last she grew entirely miserable and wished she hadn't carried i_o far. When poor Alfred, seeing that he was losing her, he did not know how, kept exclaiming: "Oh, here's a jolly one! look at this!" she lost patience a_ast, and said, "Oh, don't bother me! I don't care for them!" and burst int_ears, and got up and walked away.
  • Alfred dropped alongside and was going to try to comfort her, but she said:
  • "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 said sh_ould look at pictures all through the nooning — and she walked on, crying.
  • Then Alfred went musing into the deserted schoolhouse. He was humiliated an_ngry. He easily guessed his way to the truth — the girl had simply made _onvenience of him to vent her spite upon Tom Sawyer. He was far from hatin_om the less when this thought occurred to him. He wished there was some wa_o get that boy into trouble without much risk to himself. Tom's spelling-boo_ell under his eye. Here was his opportunity. He gratefully opened to th_esson for the afternoon and poured ink upon the page.
  • Becky, glancing in at a window behind him at the moment, saw the act, an_oved on, without discovering herself. She started homeward, now, intending t_ind Tom and tell him; Tom would be thankful and their troubles would b_ealed. Before she was half way home, however, she had changed her mind. Th_hought of Tom's treatment of her when she was talking about her picnic cam_corching back and filled her with shame. She resolved to let him get whippe_n the damaged spelling-book's account, and to hate him forever, into th_argain.