jumped to their feet and ran to the shore toward the town. They parted the
bushes on the bank and looked out over the water. The little steam ferryboat was
about a mile below the village, drifting with the current. Her wide deck seemed
crowded with people. There were many small boats rowing about or floating with
the stream close to the ferryboat, but the boys could not see what the men in
them were doing.
Soon, a cloud of white smoke came out from the side of the ferryboat, and as it
went up into the air, that same dull noise was heard.
"I know now!" exclaimed Tom; "somebody's drowned!"
"That's it!" said Huck; "they did that last summer, when Bill Turner drowned.
They shoot a cannon over the water, and that makes him come up to the top. Yes,
and they take loaves of bread and put mercury inside them and float them in the
river, and wherever there's anybody that's drowned, they'll float right there
"Yes, I've heard about that," said Joe. "I wonder what makes the bread do that."
"Oh, it’s not the bread, so much," said Tom; "I reckon it's mostly what they say
before they put them in."
"But they don't say anything," said Huck. "I've seen them and they don't."
"Well, that's funny," said Tom. "But maybe they say it to themselves. Of course
they do. Anybody knows that."
The other boys agreed that there was common sense in what Tom said, because an
ignorant piece of bread could not be expected to act very intelligently when
given such an important task.
"I wish I was over there, now," said Joe.
"I do too" said Huck "I'd give anything to know who it is."
The boys listened and watched. Presently a revealing thought flashed through
Tom's mind, and he exclaimed:"Boys, I know who's drowned. It's us!"
They felt like heroes immediately. This was a gorgeous triumph; they were missed;
people were sad; hearts were breaking on their account; tears were being cried;
many were regretting their acts of unkindness to these poor lost boys, and best
of all, the lads were the talk of the whole town, and the envy of all boys
everywhere. This was fine. It was worthwhile to be a pirate, after all!.
... to be continued!
* The text has been adapted from the Adventures
of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
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