There was something about the way Aunt Polly
kissed Tom, that made him happy. He started walking to school and luckily saw
Becky Thatcher at the beginning of Meadow Lane. Without a moment's hesitation he
ran up to her and said:
"I acted very mean today, Becky, and I'm so sorry. I won't ever, ever behave
that way again, as long as I live. Please forgive me, won't you?"
The girl stopped and looked him angrily in the face:
"Please keep yourself to yourself, Mr. Thomas Sawyer. I'll never speak to you
She tossed her head and walked away. Tom was so stunned that he didn’t even
think of saying, "Who cares, Miss Smarty?" until it was too late.
So he said nothing. But he was really angry. He walked sadly into the schoolyard
wishing she were a boy, and imagining how he
would hit her if she were.
He soon saw her and threw an insult at her as he walked passed.
She threw one back at him. In her anger, Becky could hardly wait for Tom to be
punished for the damaged spelling book. If she had had any thoughts of exposing
Alfred Temple, Tom's offensive insult had driven it entirely out of her mind.
Poor girl, she did not know how fast she was getting near to trouble herself.
The teacher, Mr. Dobbins, had reached middle age with an unsatisfied ambition.
He had wanted to be a doctor, but because he was poor, he could only be a
village school teacher.
Every day he took a mysterious book out of his desk and absorbed himself in it
whenever he wasn’t teaching. He kept that book under lock and key.
Every kid in the school wanted to see that book but the chance never came. Every
boy and girl had a theory about the kind of book it was, but no two
theories were the same, and there was no way of looking at the book to settle
Now, as Becky walked past the desk, which stood near the door, she noticed that
the key was in the lock! It was a precious moment. She looked around and she was
alone, and the next moment she had the book in her hands.
The title page, Professor somebody's Anatomy, meant little to her, so she began
to turn the pages. She soon came to a beautiful coloured picture, a human
figure, totally naked. At that moment a shadow fell on the page and Tom Sawyer
stepped in the room and caught a glimpse of the picture.
Becky quickly tried to close the book, but had the bad luck to tear the pictured
page in half. She threw it into the desk, turned the key, and burst out crying
"Tom Sawyer, you are so mean to sneak up on a person and look at what they're
"How could I know you was looking at anything?"
"You should be ashamed of yourself, Tom Sawyer. You know you're going to tell on
me, and oh, what shall I do, what shall I do! I'll be whipped, and I’ve never
been whipped in school."
Then she stamped her little foot and said:
"Ok, be mean if you want to! I know something that's going to happen. You just
wait and you'll see!
Hateful, hateful, hateful!" and she ran out of the school crying.
Tom stood still. He was confused and didn’t know what to think. He said to
"What a curious, fool of a girl she is! Never been whipped in school!
Unbelievable! That's just like a girl. They're so thin, skinny and nervous.
Well, of course I’m not going to tell old Dobbins about this little fool. There
are other, not so nasty, ways of getting even with her. But old Dobbins will ask
who it was who tore his book. Nobody will answer him. Then he'll do what he
always does. He’ll ask all of us, one at a time, and when he comes to the right
girl he'll know it. Girls' faces always tell the truth. They don’t have any
courage. She'll get punished. Well, it's kind of a tough situation for Becky
Thatcher, because there’s no way out of it."
Tom thought this over for a moment longer, and then added: "All right, then.
She'd like to see me in just such trouble. Let her sweat it out!"
... to be continued!
* The text has been adapted from the Adventures
of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
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