As he was passing by the house where Jeff
Thatcher lived, he saw a new girl in the garden; a lovely little blue-eyed girl
with long yellow hair and a white summer dress.
The new battle hero fell without firing a shot. Amy Lawrence disappeared from
his heart and left not even a memory of herself behind.
He had thought he loved her completely. He had thought of his passion as
adoration, and now he saw that it was only a passing phase of little importance.
He had spent months winning her affection; she had confessed her feelings only a
week ago. He had been the happiest and the proudest boy in the world only seven
short days before, and here in one moment of time she had gone out of his heart
like a casual stranger whose visit is over.
He stared at this new angel secretly until he saw that she had discovered him,
then he pretended he did not know she was there, and began to show off in all
sorts of silly boyish ways, in order to win her admiration.
He kept up this ridiculous foolishness for a long time, but eventually, while he
was in the middle of some dangerous gymnastic performances, he looked to one
side and saw that the little girl was walking toward the house.
Tom came up to the fence and leaned on it, sadly, hoping she might wait around
for a while. She stopped for a moment on the steps and then moved toward the
door. Tom sighed as she put her foot on the last step. But his face lit up,
right away, because she threw a flower over the fence a moment before she
The boy ran around and stopped within a foot or two of the flower, and then
shaded his eyes with his hand and began to look down street as if he had
discovered something interesting going on in that direction.
Then, he picked up a straw and began trying to balance it on his nose, with his
head far back. As he moved from side to side, in his efforts, he edged nearer
and nearer toward the flower.
Finally, his bare foot was on top of it, his toes closed upon it, and he hopped
away with the treasure and disappeared around the corner. But only for a minute,
only while he could put the flower inside his jacket, next to his heart, or next
his stomach, possibly; he wasn’t very good at anatomy.
He went back to the fence until it got dark, showing off as before, but the girl
never reappeared, though Tom comforted himself a little with the hope that she
had been near a window and had known he was there waiting and looking for her.
Finally, he walked home with his head full of visions of the girl.
All through dinner he was in such a good mood that his aunt wondered "what had
got into the child." He was punished for throwing the clods of earth at Sid, and
he did not seem to mind that at all.
He tried to steal sugar under his aunt's very nose, and got his knuckles hit for
it. He said: "Aunt, you don't whack Sid when he takes sugar."
"Well, Sid doesn't torment me the way you do. You'd be always taking sugar if I
wasn’t watching you."
Tom’s aunt went into the kitchen, and Sid immediately reached for the sugar
bowl, teasing Tom with an unbearable smile. But Sid's fingers slipped and the
bowl dropped and broke.
Tom was in ecstasy. So much so that he even controlled his tongue and was
silent. He said to himself that he would not speak a word, even when his aunt
came in, but would sit perfectly still till she asked who broke the bowl. Then
he would tell, and there would be nothing so good in the world as to
see Sid get the punishment.
He was so full of happiness that he could hardly hold himself when the
old lady came back and stood above the mess on the floor, looking angrily at Tom
over the top of her glasses.
He said to himself, "Now it's coming!", and the next moment he was falling to
the floor! The powerful hand was ready to hit again when Tom cried out:
"Wait! Wait! what are you hitting ME for? Sid broke it!"
Aunt Polly paused, confused, and Tom looked for some pity. But when she found
her tongue again, she only said:
"Umf! Well, I’m sure you deserved it. You were probably doing something bad when
I wasn’t here, I’m sure.”
Then her conscience started to bother her and she wanted to say something kind
and loving; but she decided that this would mean her confessing that she had
made a mistake and discipline forbade that.
So she kept silent, and did her housework with a troubled heart. Tom sat in in a
corner and felt sorry for himself. He knew that in her heart his aunt was on her
knees to him, and this made him feel sadly gratified.
He would send out no signals, he would take notice of none. He knew that she
looked at him sympathetically now and then, through a film of tears, but he
refused to recognize it.
He imagined himself lying sick and close to death and his aunt bending over him
asking for one little forgiving word, but he would turn his face to the wall,
and die with that word unsaid. Ah, how would she feel then?
And he pictured himself brought home from the river, dead, with his hair all
wet, and his troubled heart at rest. She would throw herself upon him, and her
tears would fall like rain, and her lips pray God to give her back her boy and
she would never, never abuse him anymore!
But he would lie there cold and white, without moving; a poor little sufferer,
whose troubles were at an end. He worked so much on these sad, hypothetical
feelings that he had to keep swallowing, he was nearly choking and his eyes swam
in a blur of water, which overflowed when he winked, and ran down and fell of
the end of his nose.
This focus on his imaginary self-pity was so intense that Tom could not bear to
have any happy thoughts or outside joy disturbing him. It was too sacred for
such contact. So, when his cousin Mary danced in, all alive with the joy of
seeing home again after a long visit of one week to the country, he got up and
moved in clouds and darkness out of one door as she brought song and
sunshine in though the other.
... to be continued!
* The text has been adapted from the Adventures
of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
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