The sun rose on a tranquil world, and shone down
on the peaceful village like a benediction.
After breakfast Aunt Polly had family prayer. It began with solid lessons from
the bible, together with a thin layer of originality. After this, she delivered
a biblical lesson, not unlike Moses from the top of Mt. Sinai.
Then Tom got ready, because it was his turn to "say his verses." Sid had learned
his lesson days before. Tom put all his energy to the memorizing of five verses,
and he chose part of the Sermon on the Mount, because he could find no verses
that were shorter.
At the end of half an hour Tom had a vague general idea of his lesson, but no
more, for his mind was crossing the whole field of human
thought, and his hands were busy doing distracting thinggs. Mary took his book
to hear him recite from memory, and he tried to find his way through the fog:
"Blessed are the--a--a--"
"Yes--poor; blessed are the poor--a--a--"
"In spirit; blessed are the poor in spirit, for they--they--"
"For THEIRS. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they--they--"
"S, H, A--"
"For they S, H--Oh, I don't know what it is!"
"Oh, SHALL! for they shall--for they shall--a--a--shall mourn--a--a-- blessed
are they that shall--they that--a--they that shall mourn, for they
shall--a--shall WHAT? Why don't you tell me, Mary?--what do you want to be so
"Oh, Tom, you poor thick-headed thing, I'm not teasing you. I wouldn't do that.
You must go and learn it again. Don't you be discouraged, Tom, you'll do it and,
if you do, I'll give you something ever so nice. There, now, that's a good boy."
"All right! What is it, Mary, tell me what it is."
"Never you mind, Tom. You know if I say it's nice, it is nice."
"I’m sure that's true, Mary. All right, I'll try it again."
And he did "try it again", and under the double pressure of curiosity and
prospective gain he did it with such spirit that he accomplished a shining
success. Mary gave him a brand-new "Barlow" knife worth twelve and a half cents,
and the happiness that swept his system shook him to his foundations.
True, the knife would not cut anything, but it was a "sure-enough" Barlow, and
there was pride and respect in that fact. Although, where the Western boys ever
got the idea that such a weapon could possibly be dangerous is a mystery and
will always be one, perhaps.
Tom started to mark the cupboard with it, and was just starting on the desk,
when he was called to dress for Sunday-school.
... to be continued!
* The text has been adapted from the Adventures
of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
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