The man moaned, moved a little, and his face
appeared in the moonlight. It was Muff Potter. The boys' hearts had stood still,
and their hopes too, when the man moved, but their fears disappeared now.
They walked out silently and stopped at after a little distance to say goodbye.
That long howl rose on the night air again!
They turned and saw the strange dog standing within a few feet of where Potter
was lying, and looking at Potter, with his nose pointing up.
"Oh, blimey, it's him!" exclaimed both boys.
"Hey, Tom. They say a stray dog was howling around Johnny Miller's house, about
midnight two weeks ago. And someone came in and same evening; and there isn’t
anybody dead there yet."
"Well, I know that. Didn't Gracie Miller fall in the kitchen fire and burn
herself really badly the following Saturday?"
"Yes, but she’s not dead. And what's more, she's getting better, too."
"All right, you wait and see. She's just as good as dead, the same way Muff
Potter is. That's what the black people say, and they know all about these kind
of things, Huck."
Then they said goodbye and separated. When Tom crept in through his bedroom
window the night was almost over.
He got undressed very, very carefully, and fell asleep congratulating himself
that nobody knew of his adventure. He was not aware that the gently-snoring Sid
was awake, and had been so for an hour.
When Tom woke up, Sid was dressed and gone. It seemed to be late in the morning.
He was surprised. Why had he not been called and shouted at until he was up, as
The thought made him nervous. Within five minutes he was dressed and down-stairs,
feeling sore and sleepy.
The family were still sitting at the table, but they had finished breakfast.
No one said anything bad to him, but they did not look at him. There was a
silence and a seriousness in the air that scared him. He sat down and tried to
seem happy, but it was difficult work. No one smiled. There was no response, and
he also became silent and let his heart sink down to the depths.
After breakfast his aunt took him to one side, and Tom cheered up in the hope
that he was going to be hit and beaten, but no. His aunt cried and asked him how
he could go and break her old heart like that. She finally told him to go on,
and ruin himself and bring her gray hairs and send her sad to the grave, because
there was no point in her trying anymore.
This was worse than a thousand beatings, and Tom's heart hurt him more than his
body. He cried, he asked for forgiveness, promised to reform over and over again,
and then went away, feeling that at least he had won an imperfect forgiveness
and established a weak confidence.
He left his aunt too miserable to even feel revengeful toward Sid, and so Sid’s
quick retreat through the back gate was unnecessary.
He went to school miserable and sad, and accepted his beating, together with Joe
Harper, for not going to school the day before. There were more serious things
on his mind than the beating.
Then he went to his seat, rested his elbows on his desk and his
head in his hands, and stared at the wall with the stony stare of suffering that
has reached the limit and can go on no further.
His elbow was pressing against something hard. After a long time he slowly and
sadly changed his position, and picked up this object. It was in a piece of
paper. He opened it. A long, huge sigh followed, and his heart broke. It was his
This final straw broke the camel's back.
... to be continued!
* The text has been adapted from the Adventures
of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
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