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THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
Most of the adventures recorded in this book really occurred; one or two were experiences of myown, the rest those of boys who were schoolmates of mine. Huck Finn is drawn from life; TomSawyer also, but not from an individual — he is a combination of the characteristics of threeboys whom I knew, and therefore belongs to the composite order of architecture.The oddsuperstitions touched upon were all prevalent among children and slaves in the West at theperiod of this story — that is to say, thirty or forty years ago.Although my book is intendedmainly for the entertainment of boys and girls, I hope it will not be shunned by men and womenon that account, for part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what theyonce were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer enterprisesthey sometimes engaged in.THE AUTHOR.HARTFORD, 1876.
T O M S A W Y E R
!" " Tom
" TOM !"
"What's gone with that boy, I wonder? You !"Tom
The old lady pulled her spectacles down and looked over them about the room; then she put themup and looked out under them. She seldom or never looked through them for so small a thing as
a boy; they were her state pair, the pride of her heart, and were built for "style," notservice — she could have seen through a pair of stove-lids just as well. She looked perplexedfor a moment, and then said, not fiercely, but still loud enough for the furniture to hear:
"Well, I lay if I get hold of you I'll —"She did not finish, for by this time she was bendingdown and punching under the bed with the broom, and so she needed breath to punctuate thepunches with. She resurrected nothing but the cat."I never did see the beat of that boy!"Shewent to the open door and stood in it and looked out among the tomato vines and "jimpson" weedsthat constituted the garden. No Tom. So she lifted up her voice at an angle calculated fordistance and shouted:"Y-o-u-u TOM!"There was a slight noise behind her and she turned just intime to seize a small boy by the slack of his roundabout and arrest his flight."There! I might'a' thought of that closet. What you been doing in there?""Nothing."
"Nothing! Look at your hands. And look at your mouth. What is that truck?"
"I don't know, aunt.""Well, I know. It's jam — that's what it is. Forty times I've said if youdidn't let that jam alone I'd skin you. Hand me that switch."The switch hovered in the air —the peril was desperate —"My! Look behind you, aunt!"The old lady whirled round, and snatchedher skirts out of danger. The lad fled on the instant, scrambled up the high board-fence, anddisappeared over it.His aunt Polly stood surprised a moment, and then broke into a gentlelaugh.
"Hang the boy, can't I never learn anything? Ain't he played me tricks enough like that for meto be looking out for him by this time? But old fools is the biggest fools there is. Can'tlearn an old dog new tricks, as the saying is. But my goodness, he never plays them alike, twodays, and how is a body to know what's coming? He 'pears to know just how long he can tormentme before I get my dander up, and he knows if he can make out to put me off for a minute ormake me laugh, it's all down again and I can't hit him a lick. I ain't doing my duty by thatboy, and that's the Lord's truth, goodness knows. Spare the rod and spile the child, as theGood Book says. I'm a laying up sin and suffering for us both, I know. He's full of the OldScratch, but laws-a-me! he's my own dead sister's boy, poor thing, and I ain't got the heart tolash him, somehow. Every time I let him off, my conscience does hurt me so, and every time Ihit him my old heart most breaks. Well-a-well, man that is born of woman is of few days andfull of trouble, as the Scripture says, and I reckon it's so. He'll play hookey this evening(Southwestern for "afternoon"), and I'll just be obleeged to make him work, to-morrow, topunish him. It's mighty hard to make him work Saturdays, when all the boys is having holiday,but he hates work more than he hates anything else, and I've got to do some of my duty by
him, or I'll be the ruination of the child."
Tom did play hookey, and he had a very good time. He got back home barely in season to helpJim, the small colored boy, saw next-day's wood and split the kindlings before supper — atleast he was there in time to tell his adventures to Jim while Jim did three-fourths of thework. Tom's younger brother (or rather half-brother) Sid was already through with his part ofthe work (picking up chips), for he was a quiet boy, and had no adventurous, trouble-someways.While Tom was eating his supper, and stealing sugar as opportunity offered, Aunt Pollyasked him questions that were full of guile, and very deep — for she wanted to trap him into
damaging revealments. Like many other simple-hearted souls, it was her pet vanity to believeshe was endowed with a talent for dark and mysterious diplomacy, and she loved to contemplateher most transparent devices as marvels of low cunning. Said she:"Tom, it was middling warm inschool, warn't it?""Yes'm.""Powerful warm, warn't it?""Yes'm.""Didn't you want to go in a-swimming, Tom?"A bit of a scare shot through Tom — a touch of uncomfortable suspicion. Hesearched Aunt Polly's face, but it told him nothing. So he said:"No'm — well, not verymuch."The old lady reached out her hand and felt Tom's shirt, and said:"But you ain't too warmnow, though." And it flattered her to reflect that she had discovered that the shirt was drywithout anybody knowing that that was what she had in her mind. But in spite of her, Tom knewwhere the wind lay, now. So he forestalled what might be the next move:"Some of us pumped onour heads — mine's damp yet. See?"Aunt Polly was vexed to think she had overlooked that bit ofcircumstantial evidence, and missed a trick. Then she had a new inspiration:"Tom, you didn'thave to undo your shirt collar where I sewed it, to pump on your head, did you? Unbutton yourjacket!"The trouble vanished out of Tom's face. He opened his jacket. His shirt collar wassecurely sewed.
"Bother! Well, go 'long with you. I'd made sure you'd played hookey and been a-swimming. But Iforgive ye, Tom. I reckon you're a kind of a singed cat, as the saying is — better'n you look.
She was half sorry her sagacity had miscarried, and half glad that Tom had stumbled intoobedient conduct for once.But Sidney said:"Well, now, if I didn't think you sewed his collarwith white thread, but it's black.""Why, I did sew it with white! Tom!"But Tom did not wait forthe rest. As he went out at the door he said:"Siddy, I'll lick you for that."In a safe placeTom examined two large needles which were thrust into the lapels of his jacket, and had threadbound about them — one needle carried white thread and the other black. He said:"She'd nevernoticed if it hadn't been for Sid. Confound it! sometimes she sews it with white, and sometimesshe sews it with black. I wish to geeminy she'd stick to one or t'other — I can't keep the runof 'em. But I bet you I'll lam Sid for that. I'll learn him!"He was not the Model Boy of thevillage. He knew the model boy very well though — and loathed him.Within two minutes, or evenless, he had forgotten all his troubles. Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy andbitter to him than a man's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest bore them downand drove them out of his mind for the time — just as men's misfortunes are forgotten in theexcitement of new enterprises. This new interest was a valued novelty in whistling, which hehad just acquired from a negro, and he was suffering to practise it undisturbed. It consistedin a peculiar bird-like turn, a sort of liquid warble, produced by touching the tongue to theroof of the mouth at short intervals in the midst of the music — the reader probably remembershow to do it, if he has ever been a boy. Diligence and attention soon gave him the knack of it,and he strode down the street with his mouth full of harmony and his soul full of gratitude. Hefelt much as an astronomer feels who has discovered a new planet — no doubt, as far as strong,deep, unalloyed pleasure is concerned, the advantage was with the boy, not the astrono mer.Thesummer evenings were long. It was not dark, yet. Presently Tom checked his whistle. A strangerwas before him — a boy a shade larger than himself. A new-comer of any age or either sex wasan impressive curiosity in the poor little shabby village of St. Petersburg. This boy was welldressed, too — well dressed on a week-day. This was simply astounding. His cap was a daintything, his close-buttoned blue cloth roundabout was new and natty, and so were his pantaloons.He had shoes on — and it was only Friday. He even wore a necktie, a bright bit of ribbon. Hehad a citified air about him that ate into Tom's vitals. The more Tom stared at the splendidmarvel, the higher he turned up his nose at his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his ownoutfit seemed to him to grow. Neither boy spoke. If one moved, the other moved — but onlysidewise, in a circle; they kept face to face and eye to eye all the time. Finally Tom said:"Ican lick you!""I'd like to see you try it.""Well, I can do it.""No you can't, either.""Yes Ican.""No you can't.""I can.""You can't.""Can!""Can't!"An uncomfortable pause. Then Tomsaid:"What's your name?""'Tisn't any of your business, maybe."
"Well I 'low I'll make it my business."
"Well why don't you?""If you say much, I will."
"Much — much — much . There now."
"Oh, you think you're mighty smart, don't you? I could lick you with one hand tied behind
me, if I wanted to."
it? You you can do it." "Well why don't you dosay
"Well I will , if you fool with me."
"Oh yes — I've seen whole families in the same fix."
"Smarty! You think you're some , now, don't you? Oh, what a hat!"
"You can lump that hat if you don't like it. I dare you to knock it off — and anybody that'lltake a dare will suck eggs.""You're a liar!""You're another.""You're a fighting liar and dasn'ttake it up.""Aw — take a walk!""Say — if you give me much more of your sass I'll take andbounce a rock off'n your head."
"Oh, of course you will."
"Well I will ."
"Well why don't you do it then? What do you keep saying you will for? Why don't you do
it? It's because you're afraid."
"I ain't afraid."
"You are.""I ain't.""You are."Another pause, and more eying and sidling around each other.Presently they were shoulder to shoulder. Tom said:"Get away from here!""Go away yourself!""Iwon't.""I won't either."So they stood, each with a foot placed at an angle as a brace, and bothshoving with might and main, and glowering at each other with hate. But neither could get anadvantage. After struggling till both were hot and flushed, each relaxed his strain withwatchful caution, and Tom said:"You're a coward and a pup. I'll tell my big brother on you, andhe can thrash you with his little finger, and I'll make him do it, too.""What do I care foryour big brother? I've got a brother that's bigger than he is — and what's more, he can throwhim over that fence, too." (Both brothers were imaginary.)"That's a lie."
" Your saying so don't make it so."
Tom drew a line in the dust with his big toe, and said:"I dare you to step over that, and I'lllick you till you can't stand up. Anybody that'll take a dare will steal sheep."The new boystepped over promptly, and said:"Now you said you'd do it, now let's see you do it.""Don't youcrowd me now; you better look out."
"Well, you said you'd do it — why don't you do it?"
"By jingo! for two cents I will do it."
The new boy took two broad coppers out of his pocket and held them out with derision. Tomstruck them to the ground. In an instant both boys were rolling and tumbling in the dirt,gripped together like cats; and for the space of a minute they tugged and tore at each other'shair and clothes, punched and scratched each other's nose, and covered themselves with dust andglory. Presently the confusion took form, and through the fog of battle Tom appeared, seatedastride the new boy, and pounding him with his fists. "Holler 'nuff!" said he.The boy onlystruggled to free himself. He was crying — mainly from rage."Holler 'nuff!" — and thepounding went on.At last the stranger got out a smothered "'Nuff!" and Tom let him up andsaid:"Now that'll learn you. Better look out who you're fooling with next time."The new boywent off brushing the dust from his clothes, sobbing, snuffling, and occasionally looking backand shaking his head and threatening what he would do to Tom the "next time he caught him out."To which Tom responded with jeers, and started off in high feather, and as soon as his back wasturned the new boy snatched up a stone, threw it and hit him between the shoulders and thenturned tail and ran like an antelope. Tom chased the traitor home, and thus found out where he
lived. He then held a position at the gate for some time, daring the enemy to come outside, butthe enemy only made faces at him through the window and declined. At last the enemy's motherappeared, and called Tom a bad, vicious, vulgar child, and ordered him away. So he went away;but he said he "'lowed" to "lay" for that boy.He got home pretty late that night, and when heclimbed cautiously in at the window, he uncovered an ambuscade, in the person of his aunt; andwhen she saw the state his clothes were in her resolution to turn his Saturday holiday intocaptivity at hard labor became adamantine in its firmness.
Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming withlife. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young the music issued at the lips.There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step. The locust-trees were in bloom andthe fragrance of the blossoms filled the air. Cardiff Hill, beyond the village and above it,was green with vegetation and it lay just far enough away to seem a Delectable Land, dreamy,reposeful, and inviting.Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settleddown upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow,and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank;repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with thefar-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged. Jim cameskipping out at the gate with a tin pail, and singing Buffalo Gals. Bringing water from thetown pump had always been hateful work in Tom's eyes, before, but now it did not strike him so.He remembered that there was company at the pump. White, mulatto, and negro boys and girls werealways there waiting their turns, resting, trading playthings, quarrelling, fighting,skylarking. And he remembered that although the pump was only a hundred and fifty yards off,Jim never got back with a bucket of water under an hour — and even then somebody generally hadto go after him. Tom said:"Say, Jim, I'll fetch the water if you'll whitewash some."Jim shookhis head and said:
"Can't, Mars Tom. Ole missis, she tole me I got to go an' git dis water an' not stop foolin'roun' wid anybody. She say she spec' Mars Tom gwine to ax me to whitewash, an' so she tole mego 'long an' 'tend to my own business — she 'lowed she'd 'tend to de whitewashin'."
"Oh, never you mind what she said, Jim. That's the way she always talks. Gimme the bucket — Iwon't be gone only a a minute. She won't ever know."
"Oh, I dasn't, Mars Tom. Ole missis she'd take an' tar de head off'n me. 'Deed she would."
" She ! She never licks anybody — whacks 'em over the head with her thimble — and who caresfor that, I'd like to know. She talks awful, but talk don't hurt — anyways it don't if shedon't cry. Jim, I'll give you a marvel. I'll give you a white alley!"
Jim began to waver."White alley, Jim! And it's a bully taw.""My! Dat's a mighty gay marvel, Itell you! But Mars Tom I's powerful 'fraid ole missis —""And besides, if you will I'll showyou my sore toe."Jim was only human — this attraction was too much for him. He put down hispail, took the white alley, and bent over the toe with absorbing interest while the bandage wasbeing unwound. In another moment he was flying down the street with his pail and a tinglingrear, Tom was whitewashing with vigor, and Aunt Polly was retiring from the field with aslipper in her hand and triumph in her eye.
But Tom's energy did not last. He began to think of the fun he had planned for this day, andhis sorrows multiplied. Soon the free boys would come tripping along on all sorts of deliciousexpeditions, and they would make a world of fun of him for having to work — the very thoughtof it burnt him like fire. He got out his worldly wealth and examined it — bits of toys,marbles, and trash; enough to buy an exchange of work , maybe, but not half enough to buy so
much as half an hour of pure freedom. So he returned his straitened means to his pocket, andgave up the idea of trying to buy the boys. At this dark and hopeless moment an inspirationburst upon him! Nothing less than a great, magnificent inspiration.
He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. Ben Rogers hove in sight presently — thevery boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been dreading. Ben's gait was the hop-skip-and-jump — proof enough that his heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating anapple, and giving a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat. As he drew near, he slackened speed,took the middle of the street, leaned far over to star-board and rounded to ponderously andwith laborious pomp and circumstance — for he was personating the Big Missouri, and considered
himself to be drawing nine feet of water. He was boat and captain and engine-bells combined, sohe had to imagine himself standing on his own hurricane-deck giving the orders and executingthem:"Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!" The headway ran almost out, and he drew up slowlytoward the sidewalk."Ship up to back! Ting-a-ling-ling!" His arms straightened and stiffeneddown his sides."Set her back on the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow! ch-chow-wow! Chow!" Hisright hand, mean- time, describing stately circles — for it was representing a forty-footwheel."Let her go back on the labboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ch-chow-chow!" The left handbegan to describe circles.
"Stop the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Stop the labboard! Come ahead on the stabboard! Stopher! Let your outside turn over slow! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ow-ow! Get out that head-line!
now! Come — out with your spring-line — what're you about there! Take a turn roundLively
that stump with the bight of it! Stand by that stage, now — let her go! Done with the engines,sir! Ting-a-ling-ling! " (trying the gauge-cocks).Sh't! Sh't! Sh't!
Tom went on whitewashing — paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and thensaid: "Hi-YI! You're up a stump, ain't you!"
No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then he gave his brushanother gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom'smouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said:"Hello, old chap, you got towork, hey?"Tom wheeled suddenly and said:"Why, it's you, Ben! I warn't noticing."
"Say — I'm going in a-swimming, I am. Don't you wish you could? But of course you'd druther work — wouldn't you? Course you would!"
Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:"What do you call work?"
"Why, ain't that work?"
Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:"Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain't.All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer."
"Oh come, now, you don't mean to let on that you like it?"
The brush continued to move."Like it? Well, I don't see why I oughtn't to like it. Does a boyget a chance to whitewash a fence every day?"That put the thing in a new light. Ben stoppednibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth — stepped back to note theeffect — added a touch here and there — criticised the effect again — Ben watching everymove and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:"Say, Tom,let ME whitewash a little."Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:
"No — no — I reckon it wouldn't hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly's awful particular aboutthis fence — right here on the street, you know — but if it was the back fence I wouldn'tmind and she wouldn't. Yes, she's awful particular about this fence; it's got to be done verycareful; I reckon there ain't one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the wayit's got to be done."
"No — is that so? Oh come, now — lemme just try. Only just a little — I'd let you , if you
was me, Tom."
"Ben, I'd like to, honest injun; but Aunt Polly — well, Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn'tlet him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn't let Sid. Now don't you see how I'm fixed? If youwas to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it —""Oh, shucks, I'll be just ascareful. Now lemme try. Say — I'll give you the core of my apple.""Well, here — No, Ben, nowdon't. I'm afeard —"
"I'll give you all of it!"
Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while thelate steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel inthe shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of moreinnocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to
jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chanceto Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in fora dead rat and a string to swing it with — and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when themiddle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom wasliterally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, partof a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key thatwouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, acouple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass doorknob, a dog-collar — but no dog — the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidatedold window sash.He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while — plenty of company — andthe fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn't run out of whitewash he would havebankrupted every boy in the village.
Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a greatlaw of human action, without knowing it — namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet athing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great andwise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work
to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body isconsists of whatever a body is obliged
not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers orperforming on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is onlyamusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twentyor thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerablemoney; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and thenthey would resign.
The boy mused awhile over the substantial change which had taken place in his worldlycircumstances, and then wended toward headquarters to report.