Tom Sawyer – Part Six

Before you read the text, read the following comprehension questions.

1. What was Ben doing an impersonation of?

2. What was Ben eating?

3. Where was Ben going when he saw Tom?

4. What did Tom convince Ben to do?

5. Why were children giving Tom toys and things?

Now read the text and answer the questions.

At this dark and hopeless moment an inspiration hit him! Nothing less than a great, magnificent inspiration.

He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. After a while, Ben Rogers appeared - the one boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been dreading.

Ben's was the hopping and skipping along, proof enough that his heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and singing a tune as he moved, followed by a deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong. He was impersonating a steamboat.

As he came near, he slowed down, moved to the middle of the street, leaned far over to starboard and stuck out his chest with pride. He was impersonating the Big Missouri, and considered himself to be drawing nine feet of water. He was boat and captain and engine bells combined, so he had to imagine himself standing on his own hurricane, deck giving the orders and executing them:

"Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!", and he drew up slowly toward the pavement.

"Ship up to back! Ting-a-ling-ling!" His arms straightened and stiffened down his sides.
"Set her back on the starboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow! ch-chow-wow! Chow!" His right hand, meantime, making large circles in the air, for it was representing a forty-foot wheel.

"Let her go back again! Ting-a-lingling! Chow-ch-chow-chow!" The left hand now began to make circles.

"Stop the right engine! Ting-a-ling-ling! Stop the left engine! Come ahead slow! Stop her! Let your outside turn over slow! Ting-a- ling-ling! Chow-ow-ow! Get out that head-line! LIVELY now!

Come, let out the rope line, what are you doing there! Take a turn round that post with the rope! Stand by, now - let her go! Cut the engines, sir!

Ting-a-ling-ling! SH'T! S'H'T! SH'T!"

Tom went on painting and paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said:

"Hi. YOU'RE in trouble, aren't you?"

No answer. Tom looked at his last touch with the eye of an artist, then he gave his brush another gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as before.

Ben stood alongside him. Tom's mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said:

"Hello, old chap, you’re working, are you?"

Tom turned suddenly and said:

"Well, it's you, Ben! I didn’t see you."

"I'm going swimming. Don't you wish you could come? But of course you'd rather work, wouldn’t you? Of course you would!"

Tom looked at the boy a bit, and said:

"What do you call work?"

"Well, isn’t THAT work?"

Tom went back to his painting, and answered carelessly:

"Well, maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer."

"Oh come on, now, you don't mean to admit that you actually LIKE it?"

The brush continued to move.

"Like it? Well, I don't see why I shouldn’t like it. Does a boy get a chance to paint a fence every day?"

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped eating his apple. Tom swept his brush carefully backwards and forwards and, then stepped back to note the effect. He added a touch here and there then criticised the effect again.

Ben was watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

"Hey, Tom, let ME paint a little."

Tom thought about it, was about to agree, but he changed his mind:

"No, no. I don’t think that’s a good idea, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly's really fussy about this fence, right here on the street, you know. But if it was the back fence I wouldn't mind and SHE wouldn't either.

Yes, she's very fussy about this fence; it's got to be done very careful; I reckon there isn’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it's got to be done."

"No, is that so? Oh come on, now, let me just try. Only just a little. I'd let YOU, if you was me, Tom."

"Ben, I'd like to, honestly, but Aunt Polly…. well, Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn't let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn't let Sid. Now don't you see how I'm stuck? If you was to work on this fence and anything was to happen to it..."Diccionario online

"Oh, I'll be very careful. Now let me try. I'll give you the core of my apple."

"Well, no, Ben, now don't. I'm sorry..."

"I'll give you ALL of it!"

Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart.

And while the steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, ate his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents.

There was no lack of material; boys walked along every little while; they came to make fun, but ended up painting. By the time Ben was exhausted, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he got tired, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with, and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth.

He had, besides the things mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a fishing line, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a piece of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six firecrackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass doorknob, a dog-collar (but no dog) a knife handle, four pieces of orange-peel, and an old window sash.

He was having a great time. He had plenty of company, and the fence had three coats of paint on it! If he hadn't run out of paint he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.

Tom said to himself that it was not such a bad world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it; in order to make a man or a boy want something, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to get.

If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever someone HAS to do, and that Play consists of whatever someone DOESN’T HAVE to do. And this would help him to understand why making artificial flowers or sweating on a tread-mill is work, but rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement.

There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign.

The boy thought about the substantial change which had taken place in his worldly circumstances, and then went towards headquarters to report.
... to be continued!

* The text has been adapted from the Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain

  Download the original book for free

  Haz click para comprobar las soluciones

Tom Sawyer – Part Seven

Before you read the text, read the following comprehension questions.

1. Where did Aunt Polly put here glasses while she was sleeping?

2. What was Aunt Polly’s reaction when she saw that he had painted the fence?

3. What did Aunt Polly give Tom as a reward for painting the fence?

4. Why doesn’t Tom usually use the gate?

5. Whose “army” won the battle in the village square, Tom’s or Joe’s?

Now read the text and answer the questions.

Tom stood before Aunt Polly, who was sitting by an open window in a pleasant apartment. There was a bedroom, a breakfast- room, a dining-room, and a library. It was hot inside. The warm air, restful quiet, sweet smell of flowers and low buzzing of bees outside had had their effect. Aunt Polly was sleeping over her knitting. Only the cat was keeping her company by sleeping in her lap.

Her glasses were balanced on her grey head for safety. She had thought that Tom had run away a long time ago, and she was surprised to see him standing in front of her.

He said: "Can I go and play now, aunt?"

"What, all ready? How much have you done?"

"It's all done, aunt."

"Tom, don't lie to me. I can't bear it."

"I’m not, aunt; it IS all done."

Aunt Polly didn’t believe him. She went outside to see for herself; and she would have been happy to find twenty per cent of Tom's statement true.

When she found the entire fence painted, and not only painted but painted extremely well, her astonishment was almost unspeakable. She said:
"Well, I never! There's no denying it, you can work when you put your mind to it, Tom." And then she diluted the compliment by adding, "But it's not very often that you put your mind to anything, I must say. Well, go and play; but make sure you get back some time before the end of the week, or I’ll beat you."

She was so impressed by his achievement that she took him into the kitchen and selected a nice-looking apple and gave it to him, along with a short lecture about the added value and flavor of a treat like an apple when it came without sin through virtuous effort. And while she closed the lecture with a happy quote from the bible, Tom secretly took a doughnut.

Then he ran out, and saw Sid walking up the outside stairway that went to the back rooms on the second floor.

Tom saw some clods of earth and mud on the ground and immediately started throwing them at Sid. Before Aunt Polly could get over her surprise and rescue Sid, six or seven clods had hit him, and Tom was over the fence and gone. There was a gate, but Tom was usually in too much in a hurry to use it.

His soul was at peace, now that he had settled his account with Sid for calling attention to his black thread and getting him into trouble.Diccionario online

Tom went around the block, and came into a muddy alley at the back of his aunt's cow-stable. He was soon safely beyond the reach of capture and punishment, and walked quickly toward the village square, where two opposing “military” groups of boys had agreed to meet for a fight.

Tom was General of one of these armies, Joe Harper (a very good friend) was General of the other.

These two great commanders did not agree to fight in person. This kind of combat was better suited to the smaller boys. Tom and Joe sat and directed the field operations by orders delivered through aides-de-camp.

Tom's army won a great victory, after a long and hard-fought battle. Then the dead were counted, prisoners exchanged, the terms of the next disagreement agreed upon, and the day for the necessary battle appointed; after which the armies fell into line and marched away, and Tom walked home alone.
... to be continued!

* The text has been adapted from the Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain

  Download the original book for free

  Haz click para comprobar las soluciones
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