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(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

Electronic Edition by
Released to the public June 1993


MOST of the adventures recorded in this book
really occurred; one or two were experiences of
my own, the rest those of boys who were schoolmates
of mine. Huck Finn is drawn from life; Tom Sawyer
also, but not from an individual -- he is a combination of the characteristics of three boys whom I knew,
and therefore belongs to the composite order of architecture.

The odd superstitions touched upon were all prevalent among children and slaves in the West at the
period of this story -- that is to say, thirty or
forty years ago.

Although my book is intended mainly for the entertainment of boys and girls, I hope it will not be
shunned by men and women on that account, for
part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind
adults of what they once were themselves, and of
how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer
enterprises they sometimes engaged in.






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 the room; then she put them up and
looked out under them. She seldom or never looked
THROUGH them for so small a thing as a boy; they were
her state pair, the pride of her heart, and were built
for "style," not service -- she could have seen through
a pair of stove-lids just as well. She looked perplexed
for a moment, and then said, not fiercely, but still
loud enough for the furniture to hear:

"Well, I lay if I get hold of you She did not finish, for by this time she was bending
down and punching under the bed with the broom,
and so she needed breath to punctuate the punches
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 the tomato vines and "jimpson" weeds that
constituted the garden. No Tom. So she lifted up
her voice at an angle calculated for distance and

"Y-o-u-u TOM!"

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

"There! I might 'a' thought of that closet. What
you been doing in there?"


"Nothing! Look at your hands. And look at
your mouth. What IS that truck?"

"I know, aunt."

"Well, I know. It's jam -- that's what it is. Forty
times I've said if you 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, and disappeared over it.

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

"Hang the boy, can't I never learn anything? Ain't
he played me tricks enough like that for me to be looking out for him by this time? But old fools 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 long he can
torment me before I get my dander up, and he knows
if he can make out to put me off for a minute or make
me laugh, all down again and I can't hit him a lick.
I ain't doing my duty by that boy, and that's the Lord's
truth, goodness knows. Spare the rod and spile the
child, as the Good Book says. 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 own dead 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, and every time I hit him my old heart most
breaks. Well-a-well, man that is born of woman is of
few days and full of trouble, as the Scripture says, and
I reckon so. He'll play hookey this evening, * and
[* Southwestern for "afternoon"]
just be obleeged to make him work, to-morrow, 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 he hates anything else, and I've
GOT to do some of my duty by him, or be the ruination
of the child."

Tom did play hookey, and he had a very good time.
He got back home barely in season to help Jim, the
small colored boy, saw next-wood and split the
kindlings before supper -- at least he was there in
time to tell his adventures to Jim while Jim did
three-fourths of the work. Tom's younger brother
(or rather half-brother) Sid was already through
with his part of the work (picking up chips), for he
was a quiet boy, and had no adventurous, troublesome ways.

While Tom was eating his supper, and stealing
sugar as opportunity offered, Aunt Polly asked him
questions that were full of guile, and very deep -- for
she wanted to trap him into damaging revealments.
Like many other simple-hearted souls, it was her pet
vanity to believe she was endowed with a talent for
dark and mysterious diplomacy, and she loved to contemplate her most transparent devices as marvels of
low cunning. Said she:

"Tom, it was middling warm in school, warn't


"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. He searched 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 reflect that she had discovered that
the shirt was dry without anybody knowing that that
was what she had in her mind. But in spite of her,
Tom knew where 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 of circumstantial evidence, and missed a trick.
Then she had a new inspiration:

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

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

"Bother! Well, go 'long with you. I'd made sure
you'd played hookey and been a-swimming. But I
forgive ye, Tom. I reckon you're a kind of a singed
cat, as the saying is -- better'n you look. THIS time."

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

But Sidney said:

"Well, now, if I didn't think you sewed his collar
with white thread, but 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, lick you for that."

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

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

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

Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten
all his troubles. Not because his troubles were one
whit less heavy and bitter to him than a man's are to a
man, but because a new and powerful interest bore
them down and drove them out of his mind for the time
-- just as men's misfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. This new interest was a
valued novelty in whistling, which he had just acquired
from a negro, and he was suffering to practise ...