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  外语解密学习法 逆读法(Reverse Reading Method) 和  解读法(Decode-Reading Method)训练范文 ——                 

解密目标语言:英语                                解密辅助语言:汉语
              Language to be decoded:  English             Auxiliary Language :  Chinese  

  
       
解密文本:     《汤姆·索亚历险记》   [美] 马克·吐温  著         
 

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by   Mark Twain


     PREFACE   |   第1-10章(Chapter 1-10) |   第11-20章(Chapter 11-20) |   第21-30章(Chapter 21-30) |   第31-35章(Chapter 31-35)

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CHAPTER I

"TOM!"

No answer.

"TOM!"

No answer.

"What's gone with that boy, I wonder? You TOM!"

No answer.

The old lady pulled her spectacles down and looked over them about the room; then she put them up 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," not service—she could have seen through a pair of stove-lids just as well. She looked perplexed for 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 bending down and punching under the bed with the broom, and so she needed breath to punctuate the punches with. She resurrected nothing but the cat.

"I never did see the beat of that boy!"

She went to the open door and stood in it and looked out among the tomato vines and "jimpson" weeds that constituted the garden. No Tom. So she lifted up her voice at an angle calculated for distance and shouted:

"Y-o-u-u TOM!"

There was a slight noise behind her and she turned just in time 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 you didn'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 snatched her skirts out of danger. The lad fled on the instant, scrambled up the high board-fence, and disappeared over it.

 His aunt Polly stood surprised a moment, and then broke into a gentle laugh.

"Hang the boy, can't I never learn anything? Ain't he played me tricks enough   like that for me to be looking out for him by this time? But old fools is the biggest fools there is. Can't learn an old dog new tricks, as the saying is. But my goodness, he never plays them alike, two days, and how is a body to know what's coming? He 'pears to know just how long he can torment me before I get my dander up, and he knows if he can make out to put me off for a minute or make me laugh, it's all down again and I can't hit him a lick. I ain't doing my duty by that boy, and that's the Lord's truth, goodness knows. Spare the rod and spile the child, as the Good Book says. I'm a laying up sin and suffering for us both, I know. He's full of the Old Scratch, but laws-a-me! he's my own dead sister's boy, poor thing, and I ain't got the heart to lash him, somehow. Every time I let him off, my conscience does hurt me so, and every time I hit him my old heart most breaks. Well-a-well, man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble, as the Scripture says, and I reckon it's so. He'll play hookey this evening, * and [* Southwestern for "afternoon"] I'll just be obleeged to make him work, tomorrow, to punish 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 help Jim, the small colored boy, saw next-day's wood and split the kindlings before supper—at least he was there in time to tell his adventures to Jim while Jim did three-fourths of the work. Tom's younger brother (or rather half-brother) Sid was already through with his part of the work (picking up chips), for he was a quiet boy, and had no adventurous, trouble-some ways.

While Tom was eating his supper, and stealing sugar as opportunity offered, Aunt Polly asked 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 believe she was endowed with a talent for dark and mysterious diplomacy, and she loved to contemplate her most transparent devices as marvels of low cunning. Said she:

"Tom, it was middling warm in school, 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. He searched Aunt Polly's face, but it told him nothing. So he said:

"No'm—well, not very much."

The old lady reached out her hand and felt Tom's shirt, and said:

"But you ain't too warm now, though." And it flattered her to reflect that she had discovered that the shirt was dry without anybody knowing that that was what she had in her mind. But in spite of her, Tom knew where the wind lay, now. So he forestalled what might be the next move:

"Some of us pumped on our heads—mine's damp yet. See?"

Aunt Polly was vexed to think she had overlooked that bit of circumstantial evidence, and missed a trick. Then she had a new inspiration:

"Tom, you didn't have to undo your shirt collar where I sewed it, to pump on your head, did you? Unbutton your jacket!"

The trouble vanished out of Tom's face. He opened his jacket. His shirt collar was securely sewed.

"Bother! Well, go 'long with you. I'd made sure you'd played hookey and been a-swimming. But I forgive ye, Tom. I reckon you're a kind of a singed cat, as the saying is—better'n you look. THIS time."

She was half sorry her sagacity had miscarried, and half glad that Tom had stumbled into obedient conduct for once.

But Sidney said:

"Well, now, if I didn't think you sewed his collar with white thread, but it's black."

"Why, I did sew it with white! Tom!"

But Tom did not wait for the rest. As he went out at the door he said:

"Siddy, I'll lick you for that."

In a safe place Tom examined two large needles which were thrust into the lapels of his jacket, and had thread bound about them—one needle carried white thread and the other black. He said:

"She'd never noticed if it hadn't been for Sid. Confound it! sometimes she sews it with white, and sometimes she sews it with black. I wish to gee-miny she'd stick to one or t'other—I can't keep the run of 'em. But I bet you I'll lam Sid for that. I'll learn him!"

He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very well though—and loathed him.

Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles. Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to him than a man's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest bore them down and drove them out of his mind for the time—just as men's misfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. This new interest was a valued novelty in whistling, which he had just acquired from a negro, and he was suffering to practise it un-disturbed. It consisted in a peculiar bird-like turn, a sort of liquid warble, produced by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth at short intervals in the midst of the music—the reader probably remembers how 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. He felt 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 astronomer.

The summer evenings were long. It was not dark, yet. Presently Tom checked his whistle. A stranger was before him—a boy a shade larger than himself. A new-comer of any age or either sex was an im-pressive curiosity in the poor little shabby village of St. Petersburg. This boy was well dressed, too—well dressed on a week-day. This was simply as- tounding. His cap was a dainty thing, 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. He had a citified air about him that ate into Tom's vitals. The more Tom stared at the splendid marvel, the higher he turned up his nose at his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his own outfit seemed to him to grow. Neither boy spoke. If one moved, the other moved—but only sidewise, in a circle; they kept face to face and eye to eye all the time. Finally Tom said:

"I can lick you!"

"I'd like to see you try it."

"Well, I can do it."

"No you can't, either."

"Yes I can."

"No you can't."

"I can."

"You can't."

"Can!"

"Can't!"

An uncomfortable pause. Then Tom said:

"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."

"Well why don't you DO it? You SAY you can do it."

"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'll take a dare will suck eggs."

"You're a liar!"

"You're another."

"You're a fighting liar and dasn't take it up."

"Aw—take a walk!"

"Say—if you give me much more of your sass I'll take and bounce 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!"

"I won't."

"I won't either."

So they stood, each with a foot placed at an angle as a brace, and both shoving with might and main, and glowering at each other with hate. But neither could get an advantage. After struggling till both were hot and flushed, each relaxed his strain with watchful caution, and Tom said:

"You're a coward and a pup. I'll tell my big brother on you, and he can thrash you with his little finger, and I'll make him do it, too."

"What do I care for your big brother? I've got a brother that's bigger than he is—and what's more, he can throw him 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'll lick you till you can't stand up. Anybody that'll take a dare will steal sheep."

The new boy stepped over promptly, and said:

"Now you said you'd do it, now let's see you do it."

"Don't you crowd 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. Tom struck 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's hair and clothes, punched and scratched each other's nose, and covered themselves with dust and glory.   Presently the confusion took form, and through the fog of battle Tom appeared, seated astride the new boy, and pounding him with his fists. "Holler 'nuff!" said he.

The boy only struggled to free himself. He was crying—mainly from rage.

"Holler 'nuff!"—and the pounding went on.

At last the stranger got out a smothered "'Nuff!" and Tom let him up and said:

"Now that'll learn you. Better look out who you're fooling with next time."

The new boy went off brushing the dust from his clothes, sobbing, snuffling, and occasionally looking back and 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 was turned the new boy snatched up a stone, threw it and hit him between the shoulders and then turned 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, but the enemy only made faces at him through the window and declined. At last the enemy's mother appeared, 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 he climbed cautiously in at the window, he uncovered an ambuscade, in the person of his aunt; and when she saw the state his clothes were in her resolution to turn his Saturday holiday into captivity at hard labor became adamantine in its firmness.

 

 

 

CHAPTER II

SATURDAY morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. 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 and the 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 settled down 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 the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged. Jim came skipping out at the gate with a tin pail, and singing Buffalo Gals. Bringing water from the town 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 were always 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 had to go after him. Tom said:

"Say, Jim, I'll fetch the water if you'll whitewash some."

Jim shook his 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 me go '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—I won'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 cares for that, I'd like to know. She talks awful, but talk don't hurt—anyways it don't if she don'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, I tell you! But Mars Tom I's powerful 'fraid ole missis—"

"And besides, if you will I'll show you my sore toe."

Jim was only human—this attraction was too much for him. He put down his pail, took the white alley, and bent over the toe with absorbing interest while the bandage was being unwound. In another moment he was flying down the street with his pail and a tingling rear, Tom was whitewashing with vigor, and Aunt Polly was retiring from the field with a slipper 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, and his sorrows multiplied. Soon the free boys would come tripping along on all sorts of delicious expeditions, and they would make a world of fun of him for having to work—the very thought of 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, and gave up the idea of trying to buy the boys. At this dark and hopeless moment an inspiration burst 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—the very 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 an apple, 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 starboard and rounded to ponderously and with 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, so he had to imagine himself standing on his own hurricane-deck giving the orders and executing them:

"Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!" The headway ran almost out, and he drew up slowly toward the sidewalk.

"Ship up to back! Ting-a-ling-ling!" His arms straightened and stiffened down his sides.

"Set her back on the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow! ch-chow-wow! Chow!" His right hand, mean-time, describing stately circles—for it was representing a forty-foot wheel.

"Let her go back on the labboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ch-chow-chow!" The left hand began to describe circles.

"Stop the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Stop the labboard! Come ahead on the stabboard! Stop her! Let your outside turn over slow! Ting-a-ling- ling! Chow-ow-ow! Get out that head-line! LIVELY now! Come—out with your spring-line—what're you about there! Take a turn round that stump with the bight of it! Stand by that stage, now—let her go! Done with the engines, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling! SH'T! S'H'T! SH'T!" (trying the gauge-cocks).

Tom went on whitewashing—paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said: "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 brush another gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom's mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said:

"Hello, old chap, you got to work, 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 boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?"

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth—stepped back to note the effect—added a touch here and there—criticised the effect again—Ben watching every move 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 about this fence—right here on the street, you know—but if it was the back fence I wouldn't mind and SHE wouldn't. Yes, she's awful particular about this fence; it's got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain't one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it'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't let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn't let Sid. Now don't you see how I'm fixed? If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it—"

"Oh, shucks, I'll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say—I'll give you the core of my apple."

"Well, here—No, Ben, now don'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 the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. 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 chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with—and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar—but no dog—the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.

He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while—plenty of company—and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn't run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.

Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it—namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign.

The boy mused awhile over the substantial change which had taken place in his worldly circumstances, and then wended toward headquarters to report.

 

 

CHAPTER III

TOM presented himself before Aunt Polly, who was sitting by an open window in a pleasant rearward apartment, which was bedroom, breakfast-room, dining-room, and library, combined. The balmy summer air, the restful quiet, the odor of the flowers, and the drowsing murmur of the bees had had their effect, and she was nodding over her knitting—for she had no company but the cat, and it was asleep in her lap. Her spectacles were propped up on her gray head for safety. She had thought that of course Tom had deserted long ago, and she wondered at seeing him place himself in her power again in this intrepid way. He said: "Mayn't I go and play now, aunt?"

"What, a'ready? How much have you done?"

"It's all done, aunt."

"Tom, don't lie to me—I can't bear it."

"I ain't, aunt; it IS all done."

Aunt Polly placed small trust in such evidence. She went out to see for herself; and she would have been content to find twenty per cent. of Tom's statement true. When she found the entire fence white-washed, and not only whitewashed but elaborately coated and recoated, and even a streak added to the ground, her astonishment was almost unspeakable. She said:

"Well, I never! There's no getting round it, you can work when you're a mind to, Tom." And then she diluted the compliment by adding, "But it's powerful seldom you're a mind to, I'm bound to say. Well, go 'long and play; but mind you get back some time in a week, or I'll tan you."

She was so overcome by the splendor of his achievement that she took him into the closet and selected a choice apple and delivered it to him, along with an improving lecture upon the added value and flavor a treat took to itself when it came without sin through virtuous effort. And while she closed with a happy Scriptural flourish, he "hooked" a doughnut.

Then he skipped out, and saw Sid just starting up the outside stairway that led to the back rooms on the second floor. Clods were handy and the air was full of them in a twinkling. They raged around Sid like a hail-storm; and before Aunt Polly could collect her surprised faculties and sally to the rescue, six or seven clods had taken personal effect, and Tom was over the fence and gone. There was a gate, but as a general thing he was too crowded for time to make use of it. His soul was at peace, now that he had settled with Sid for calling attention to his black thread and getting him into trouble.

Tom skirted the block, and came round into a muddy alley that led by the back of his aunt's cow-stable. He presently got safely beyond the reach of capture and punishment, and hastened toward the public square of the village, where two "military" companies of boys had met for conflict, according to previous appointment. Tom was General of one of these armies, Joe Harper (a bosom friend) General of the other. These two great commanders did not condescend to fight in person—that being better suited to the still smaller fry—but sat together on an eminence and conducted the field operations by orders delivered through aides-de-camp. Tom's army won a great victory, after a long and hard-fought battle. Then the dead were counted, prisoners exchanged, the terms of the next disagreement agreed upon, and the day for the necessary battle appointed; after which the armies fell into line and marched away, and Tom turned homeward alone.

As he was passing by the house where Jeff Thatcher lived, he saw a new girl in the garden—a lovely little blue-eyed creature with yellow hair plaited into two long-tails, white summer frock and embroidered pan-talettes. The fresh-crowned hero fell without firing a shot. A certain Amy Lawrence vanished out of his heart and left not even a memory of herself behind. He had thought he loved her to distraction; he had regarded his passion as adoration; and behold it was only a poor little evanescent partiality. He had been months winning her; she had confessed hardly a week ago; he had been the happiest and the proudest boy in the world only seven short days, and here in one instant of time she had gone out of his heart like a casual stranger whose visit is done.

He worshipped this new angel with furtive eye, till he saw that she had   discovered him; then he pretended he did not know she was present, and began to "show off" in all sorts of absurd boyish ways, in order to win her admiration. He kept up this grotesque foolishness for some time; but by-and-by, while he was in the midst of some dangerous gymnastic performances, he glanced aside and saw that the little girl was wending her way toward the house. Tom came up to the fence and leaned on it, grieving, and hoping she would tarry yet awhile longer. She halted a moment on the steps and then moved toward the door. Tom heaved a great sigh as she put her foot on the threshold. But his face lit up, right away, for she tossed a pansy over the fence a moment before she disappeared.

The boy ran around and stopped within a foot or two of the flower, and then shaded his eyes with his hand and began to look down street as if he had discovered something of interest going on in that direction. Presently he picked up a straw and began trying to balance it on his nose, with his head tilted far back; and as he moved from side to side, in his efforts, he edged nearer and nearer toward the pansy; finally his bare foot rested upon it, his pliant toes closed upon it, and he hopped away with the treasure and disappeared round the corner. But only for a minute—only while he could button the flower inside his jacket, next his heart—or next his stomach, possibly, for he was not much posted in anatomy, and not hypercritical, anyway.

He returned, now, and hung about the fence till nightfall, "showing off," as before; but the girl never exhibited herself again, though Tom comforted himself a little with the hope that she had been near some window, meantime, and been aware of his attentions. Finally he strode home reluctantly, with his poor head full of visions.

All through supper his spirits were so high that his aunt wondered "what had got into the child." He took a good scolding about clodding Sid, and did not seem to mind it in the least. He tried to steal sugar under his aunt's very nose, and got his knuckles rapped for it. He said:

"Aunt, you don't whack Sid when he takes it."

"Well, Sid don't torment a body the way you do. You'd be always into that sugar if I warn't watching you."

Presently she stepped into the kitchen, and Sid, happy in his immunity, reached for the sugar-bowl—a sort of glorying over Tom which was wellnigh unbearable. But Sid's fingers slipped and the bowl dropped and broke. Tom was in ecstasies. In such ecstasies that he even controlled his tongue and was silent. He said to himself that he would not speak a word, even when his aunt came in, but would sit perfectly still till she asked who did the mischief; and then he would tell, and there would be nothing so good in the world as to see that pet model "catch it." He was so brimful of exultation that he could hardly hold himself when the old lady came back and stood above the wreck discharging lightnings of wrath from over her spectacles. He said to himself, "Now it's coming!" And the next instant he was sprawling on the floor! The potent palm was uplifted to strike again when Tom cried out:

"Hold on, now, what 'er you belting ME for?—Sid broke it!"

Aunt Polly paused, perplexed, and Tom looked for healing pity. But when she got her tongue again, she only said:

"Umf! Well, you didn't get a lick amiss, I reckon. You been into some other audacious mischief when I wasn't around, like enough."

Then her conscience reproached her, and she yearned to say something kind and loving; but she judged that this would be construed into a confession that she had been in the wrong, and discipline forbade that. So she kept silence, and went about her affairs with a troubled heart. Tom sulked in a corner and exalted his woes. He knew that in her heart his aunt was on her knees to him, and he was morosely gratified by the consciousness of it. He would hang out no signals, he would take notice of none. He knew that a yearning glance fell upon him, now and then, through a film of tears, but he refused recognition of it. He pictured himself lying sick unto death and his aunt bending over him beseeching one little forgiving word, but he would turn his face to the wall, and die with that word unsaid. Ah, how would she feel then? And he pictured himself brought home from the river, dead, with his curls all wet, and his sore heart at rest. How she would throw herself upon him, and how her tears would fall like rain, and her lips pray God to give her back her boy and she would never, never abuse him any more! But he would lie there cold and white and make no sign—a poor little sufferer, whose griefs were at an end. He so worked upon his feelings with the pathos of these dreams, that he had to keep swallowing, he was so like to choke; and his eyes swam in a blur of water, which overflowed when he winked, and ran down and trickled from the end of his nose. And such a luxury to him was this petting of his sorrows, that he could not bear to have any worldly cheeriness or any grating delight intrude upon it; it was too sacred for such contact; and so, presently, when his cousin Mary danced in, all alive with the joy of seeing home again after an age-long visit of one week to the country, he got up and moved in clouds and darkness out at one door as she brought song and sunshine in at the other.

He wandered far from the accustomed haunts of boys, and sought desolate places that were in harmony with his spirit. A log raft in the river invited him, and he seated himself on its outer edge and contemplated the dreary vastness of the stream, wishing, the while, that he could only be drowned, all at once and unconsciously, without undergoing the uncomfortable routine devised by nature. Then he thought of his flower. He got it out, rumpled and wilted, and it mightily increased his dismal felicity. He wondered if she would pity him if she knew? Would she cry, and wish that she had a right to put her arms around his neck and comfort him? Or would she turn coldly away like all the hollow world? This picture brought such an agony of pleasurable suffering that he worked it over and over again in his mind and set it up in new and varied lights, till he wore it threadbare. At last he rose up sighing and departed in the darkness.

About half-past nine or ten o'clock he came along the deserted street to where the Adored Unknown lived; he paused a moment; no sound fell upon his listening ear; a candle was casting a dull glow upon the curtain of a second-story window. Was the sacred presence there? He climbed the fence, threaded his stealthy way through the plants, till he stood under that window; he looked up at it long, and with emotion; then he laid him down on the ground under it, disposing himself upon his back, with his hands clasped upon his breast and holding his poor wilted flower. And thus he would die—out in the cold world, with no shelter over his homeless head, no friendly hand to wipe the death-damps from his brow, no loving face to bend pityingly over him when the great agony came. And thus SHE would see him when she looked out upon the glad morning, and oh! would she drop one little tear upon his poor, lifeless form, would she heave one little   sigh to see a bright young life so rudely blighted, so untimely cut down?

The window went up, a maid-servant's discordant voice profaned the holy calm, and a deluge of water drenched the prone martyr's remains!

The strangling hero sprang up with a relieving snort. There was a whiz as of a missile in the air, mingled with the murmur of a curse, a sound as of shivering glass followed, and a small, vague form went over the fence and shot away in the gloom.

Not long after, as Tom, all undressed for bed, was surveying his drenched garments by the light of a tallow dip, Sid woke up; but if he had any dim idea of making any "references to allusions," he thought better of it and held his peace, for there was danger in Tom's eye.

Tom turned in without the added vexation of prayers, and Sid made mental note of the omission.

 

 

CHAPTER IV

THE sun rose upon a tranquil world, and beamed down upon the peaceful village like a benediction. Breakfast over, Aunt Polly had family worship: it began with a prayer built from the ground up of solid courses of Scriptural quotations, welded together with a thin mortar of originality; and from the summit of this she delivered a grim chapter of the Mosaic Law, as from Sinai.

Then Tom girded up his loins, so to speak, and went to work to "get his verses." Sid had learned his lesson days before. Tom bent all his energies 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 traversing the whole field of human thought, and his hands were busy with distracting recreations. Mary took his book to hear him recite, and he tried to find his way through the fog:

"Blessed are the—a—a—"

"Poor"—

"Yes—poor; blessed are the poor—a—a—"

"In spirit—"

"In spirit; blessed are the poor in spirit, for they—they—"

"THEIRS—"

"For THEIRS. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they—they—"

"Sh—"

"For they—a—"

"S, H, A—"

"For they S, H—Oh, I don't know what it is!"

"SHALL!"

"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 mean for?"

"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 manage 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."

"You bet you that's so, Mary. All right, I'll tackle it again."

And he did "tackle 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 convulsion of delight 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 inconceivable grandeur in that—though where the Western boys ever got the idea that such a weapon could possibly be counterfeited to its injury is an imposing mystery and will always remain so, perhaps. Tom contrived to scarify the cupboard with it, and was arranging to begin on the bureau, when he was called off to dress for Sunday-school.

Mary gave him a tin basin of water and a piece of soap, and he went outside the door and set the basin on a little bench there; then he dipped the soap in the water and laid it down; turned up his sleeves; poured out the water on the ground, gently, and then entered the kitchen and began to wipe his face diligently on the towel behind the door. But Mary removed the towel and said:

"Now ain't you ashamed, Tom. You mustn't be so bad. Water won't hurt you."

Tom was a trifle disconcerted. The basin was refilled, and this time he stood over it a little while, gathering resolution; took in a big breath and began. When he entered the kitchen presently, with both eyes shut and groping for the towel with his hands, an honorable testimony of suds and water was dripping from his face. But when he emerged from the towel, he was not yet satisfactory, for the clean territory stopped short at his chin and his jaws, like a mask; below and beyond this line there was a dark expanse of unirrigated soil that spread downward in front and backward around his neck. Mary took him in hand, and when she was done with him he was a man and a brother, without distinction of color, and his saturated hair was neatly brushed, and its short curls wrought into a dainty and symmetrical general effect. [He privately smoothed out the curls, with labor and difficulty, and plastered his hair close down to his head; for he held curls to be effeminate, and his own filled his life with bitterness.] Then Mary got out a suit of his clothing that had been used only on Sundays during two years—they were simply called his "other clothes"—and so by that we know the size of his wardrobe. The girl "put him to rights" after he had dressed himself; she buttoned his neat roundabout up to his chin, turned his vast shirt collar down over his shoulders, brushed him off and crowned him with his speckled straw hat. He now looked exceedingly improved and uncomfortable. He was fully as uncomfortable as he looked; for there was a restraint about whole clothes and cleanliness that galled him. He hoped that Mary would forget his shoes, but the hope was blighted; she coated them thoroughly with tallow, as was the custom, and brought them out. He lost his temper and said he was always being made to do everything he didn't want to do. But Mary said, persuasively:

"Please, Tom—that's a good boy."

So he got into the shoes snarling. Mary was soon ready, and the three children set out for Sunday-school—a place that Tom hated with his whole heart; but Sid and Mary were fond of it.

Sabbath-school hours were from nine to half-past ten; and then church service. Two of the children always remained for the sermon voluntarily, and the other always remained too—for stronger reasons. The church's high-backed, uncushioned pews would seat about three hundred persons; the edifice was but a small, plain affair, with a sort of pine board tree-box on top of it for a steeple. At the door Tom dropped back a step and accosted a Sunday-dressed comrade:

"Say, Billy, got a yaller ticket?"

"Yes."

"What'll you take for her?"

"What'll you give?"

"Piece of lickrish and a fish-hook."

"Less see 'em."

Tom exhibited. They were satisfactory, and the property changed hands. Then Tom traded a couple of white alleys for three red tickets, and some small trifle or other for a couple of blue ones. He waylaid other boys as they came, and went on buying tickets of various colors ten or fifteen minutes longer. He entered the church, now, with a swarm of clean and noisy boys and girls, proceeded to his seat and started a quarrel with the first boy that came handy. The teacher, a grave, elderly man, interfered; then turned his back a moment and Tom pulled a boy's hair in the next bench, and was absorbed in his book when the boy turned around; stuck a pin in another boy, presently, in order to hear him say "Ouch!" and got a new reprimand from his teacher. Tom's whole class were of a pattern—restless, noisy, and troublesome. When they came to recite their lessons, not one of them knew his verses perfectly, but had to be prompted all along. However, they worried through, and each got his reward—in small blue tickets, each with a passage of Scripture on it; each blue ticket was pay for two verses of the recitation. Ten blue tickets equalled a red one, and could be exchanged for it; ten red tickets equalled a yellow one; for ten yellow tickets the superintendent gave a very plainly bound Bible (worth forty cents in those easy times) to the pupil. How many of my readers would have the industry and application to memorize two thousand verses, even for a Dore Bible? And yet Mary had acquired two Bibles in this way—it was the patient work of two years—and a boy of German parentage had won four or five. He once recited three thousand verses without stopping; but the strain upon his mental faculties was too great, and he was little better than an idiot from that day forth—a grievous misfortune for the school, for on great occasions, before company, the superintendent (as Tom expressed it) had always made this boy come out and "spread himself." Only the older pupils managed to keep their tickets and stick to their tedious work long enough to get a Bible, and so the delivery of one of these prizes was a rare and noteworthy circumstance; the successful pupil was so great and conspicuous for that day that on the spot every scholar's heart was fired with a fresh ambition that often lasted a couple of weeks. It is possible that Tom's mental stomach had never really hungered for one of those prizes, but unquestionably his entire being had for many a day longed for the glory and the eclat that came with it.

In due course the superintendent stood up in front of the pulpit, with a closed hymn-book in his hand and his forefinger inserted between its leaves, and commanded attention. When a Sunday-school superintendent makes his customary little speech, a hymn-book in the hand is as necessary as is the inevitable sheet of music in the hand of a singer who stands forward on the platform and sings a solo at a concert—though why, is a mystery: for neither the hymn-book nor the sheet of music is ever referred to by the sufferer. This superintendent was a slim creature of thirty-five, with a sandy goatee and short sandy hair; he wore a stiff standing-collar whose upper edge almost reached his ears and whose sharp points curved forward abreast the corners of his mouth—a fence that compelled a straight lookout ahead, and a turning of the whole body when a side view was required; his chin was propped on a spreading cravat which was as broad and as long as a bank-note, and had fringed ends; his boot toes were turned sharply up, in the fashion of the day, like sleigh-runners—an effect patiently and laboriously produced by the young men by sitting with their toes pressed against a wall for hours together. Mr. Walters was very earnest of mien, and very sincere and honest at heart; and he held sacred things and places in such reverence, and so separated them from worldly matters, that unconsciously to himself his Sunday-school voice had acquired a peculiar intonation which was wholly absent on week-days. He began after this fashion:

"Now, children, I want you all to sit up just as straight and pretty as you can and give me all your attention for a minute or two. There—that is it. That is the way good little boys and girls should do. I see one little girl who is looking out of the window—I am afraid she thinks I am out there somewhere—perhaps up in one of the trees making a speech to the little birds. [Applausive titter.] I want to tell you how good it makes me feel to see so many bright, clean little faces assembled in a place like this, learning to do right and be good." And so forth and so on. It is not necessary to set down the rest of the oration. It was of a pattern which does not vary, and so it is familiar to us all.

The latter third of the speech was marred by the resumption of fights and other recreations among certain of the bad boys, and by fidgetings and whisperings that extended far and wide, washing even to the bases of isolated and incorruptible rocks like Sid and Mary. But now every sound ceased suddenly, with the subsidence of Mr. Walters' voice, and the conclusion of the speech was received with a burst of silent gratitude.

A good part of the whispering had been occasioned by an event which was more or less rare—the entrance of visitors: lawyer Thatcher, accompanied by a very feeble and aged man; a fine, portly, middle-aged gentleman with iron-gray hair; and a dignified lady who was doubtless the latter's wife. The lady was leading a child. Tom had been restless and full of chafings and repinings; conscience-smitten, too—he could not meet Amy Lawrence's eye, he could not brook her loving gaze. But when he saw this small newcomer his soul was all ablaze with bliss in a moment. The next moment he was "showing off" with all his might—cuffing boys, pulling hair, making faces—in a word, using every art that seemed likely to fascinate a girl and win her applause. His exaltation had but one alloy—the memory of his humiliation in this angel's garden—and that record in sand was fast washing out, under the waves of happiness that were sweeping over it now.

The visitors were given the highest seat of honor, and as soon as Mr. Walters' speech was finished, he introduced them to the school. The middle-aged man turned out to be a prodigious personage—no less a one than the county judge—altogether the most august creation these children had ever looked upon—and they wondered what kind of material he was made of—and they half wanted to hear him roar, and were half afraid he might, too. He was from Constantinople, twelve miles away—so he had travelled, and seen the world—these very eyes had looked upon the county court-house—which was said to have a tin roof. The awe which these reflections inspired was attested by the impressive silence and the ranks of staring eyes. This was the great Judge Thatcher, brother of their own lawyer. Jeff Thatcher immediately went forward, to be familiar with the great man and be envied by the school. It would have been music to his soul to hear the whisperings:

"Look at him, Jim! He's a going up there. Say—look! he's a going to shake hands with him—he IS shaking hands with him! By jings, don't you wish you was Jeff?"

Mr. Walters fell to "showing off," with all sorts of official bustlings and activities, giving orders, delivering judgments, discharging directions here, there, everywhere that he could find a target. The librarian "showed off"—running hither and thither with his arms full of books and making a deal of the splutter and fuss that insect authority delights in. The young lady teachers "showed off"—bending sweetly over pupils that were lately being boxed, lifting pretty warning fingers at bad little boys and patting good ones lovingly. The young gentlemen teachers "showed off" with small scoldings and other little displays of authority and fine attention to discipline—and most of the teachers, of both sexes, found business up at the library, by the pulpit; and it was business that frequently had to be done over again two or three times (with much seeming vexation). The little girls "showed off" in various ways, and the little boys "showed off" with such diligence that the air was thick with paper wads and   the murmur of scufflings. And above it all the great man sat and beamed a majestic judicial smile upon all the house, and warmed himself in the sun of his own grandeur—for he was "showing off," too.

There was only one thing wanting to make Mr. Walters' ecstasy complete, and that was a chance to deliver a Bible-prize and exhibit a prodigy. Several pupils had a few yellow tickets, but none had enough—he had been around among the star pupils inquiring. He would have given worlds, now, to have that German lad back again with a sound mind.

And now at this moment, when hope was dead, Tom Sawyer came forward with nine yellow tickets, nine red tickets, and ten blue ones, and demanded a Bible. This was a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. Walters was not expecting an application from this source for the next ten years. But there was no getting around it—here were the certified checks, and they were good for their face. Tom was therefore elevated to a place with the Judge and the other elect, and the great news was announced from headquarters. It was the most stunning surprise of the decade, and so profound was the sensation that it lifted the new hero up to the judicial one's altitude, and the school had two marvels to gaze upon in place of one. The boys were all eaten up with envy—but those that suffered the bitterest pangs were those who perceived too late that they themselves had contributed to this hated splendor by trading tickets to Tom for the wealth he had amassed in selling whitewashing privileges. These despised themselves, as being the dupes of a wily fraud, a guileful snake in the grass.

The prize was delivered to Tom with as much effusion as the superintendent could pump up under the circumstances; but it lacked somewhat of the true gush, for the poor fellow's instinct taught him that there was a mystery here that could not well bear the light, perhaps; it was simply preposterous that this boy had warehoused two thousand sheaves of Scriptural wisdom on his premises—a dozen would strain his capacity, without a doubt.

Amy Lawrence was proud and glad, and she tried to make Tom see it in her face—but he wouldn't look. She wondered; then she was just a grain troubled; next a dim suspicion came and went—came again; she watched; a furtive glance told her worlds—and then her heart broke, and she was jealous, and angry, and the tears came and she hated everybody. Tom most of all (she thought).

Tom was introduced to the Judge; but his tongue was tied, his breath would hardly come, his heart quaked—partly because of the awful greatness of the man, but mainly because he was her parent. He would have liked to fall down and worship him, if it were in the dark. The Judge put his hand on Tom's head and called him a fine little man, and asked him what his name was. The boy stammered, gasped, and got it out:

"Tom."

"Oh, no, not Tom—it is—"

"Thomas."

"Ah, that's it. I thought there was more to it, maybe. That's very well. But you've another one I daresay, and you'll tell it to me, won't you?"

"Tell the gentleman your other name, Thomas," said Walters, "and say sir. You mustn't forget your manners."

"Thomas Sawyer—sir."

"That's it! That's a good boy. Fine boy. Fine, manly little fellow. Two thousand verses is a great many—very, very great many. And you never can be sorry for the trouble you took to learn them; for knowledge is worth more than anything there is in the world; it's what makes great men and good men; you'll be a great man and a good man yourself, some day, Thomas, and then you'll look back and say, It's all owing to the precious Sunday-school privileges of my boyhood—it's all owing to my dear teachers that taught me to learn—it's all owing to the good superintendent, who encouraged me, and watched over me, and gave me a beautiful Bible—a splendid elegant Bible—to keep and have it all for my own, always—it's all owing to right bringing up! That is what you will say, Thomas—and you wouldn't take any money for those two thousand verses—no indeed you wouldn't. And now you wouldn't mind telling me and this lady some of the things you've learned—no, I know you wouldn't—for we are proud of little boys that learn. Now, no doubt you know the names of all the twelve disciples. Won't you tell us the names of the first two that were appointed?"

Tom was tugging at a button-hole and looking sheepish. He blushed, now, and his eyes fell. Mr. Walters' heart sank within him. He said to himself, it is not possible that the boy can answer the simplest question—why DID the Judge ask him? Yet he felt obliged to speak up and say:

"Answer the gentleman, Thomas—don't be afraid."

Tom still hung fire.

"Now I know you'll tell me," said the lady. "The names of the first two disciples were—"

"DAVID AND GOLIAH!"

Let us draw the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene.

 

 

 

CHAPTER V

ABOUT half-past ten the cracked bell of the small church began to ring, and presently the people began to gather for the morning sermon. The Sunday-school children distributed themselves about the house and occupied pews with their parents, so as to be under supervision. Aunt Polly came, and Tom and Sid and Mary sat with her—Tom being placed next the aisle, in order that he might be as far away from the open window and the seductive outside summer scenes as possible. The crowd filed up the aisles: the aged and needy postmaster, who had seen better days; the mayor and his wife—for they had a mayor there, among other unnecessaries; the justice of the peace; the widow Douglass, fair, smart, and forty, a generous, good-hearted soul and well-to-do, her hill mansion the only palace in the town, and the most hospitable and much the most lavish in the matter of festivities that St. Petersburg could boast; the bent and venerable Major and Mrs. Ward; lawyer Riverson, the new notable from a distance; next the belle of the village, followed by a troop of lawn-clad and ribbon-decked young heart-breakers; then all the young clerks in town in a body—for they had stood in the vestibule sucking their cane-heads, a circling wall of oiled and simpering admirers, till the last girl had run their gantlet; and last of all came the Model Boy, Willie Mufferson, taking as heedful care of his mother as if she were cut glass. He always brought his mother to church, and was the pride of all the matrons. The boys all hated him, he was so good. And besides, he had been "thrown up to them" so much. His white handkerchief was hanging out of his pocket behind, as usual on Sundays—accidentally. Tom had no handkerchief, and he   looked upon boys who had as snobs.

The congregation being fully assembled, now, the bell rang once more, to warn laggards and stragglers, and then a solemn hush fell upon the church which was only broken by the tittering and whispering of the choir in the gallery. The choir always tittered and whispered all through service. There was once a church choir that was not ill-bred, but I have forgotten where it was, now. It was a great many years ago, and I can scarcely remember anything about it, but I think it was in some foreign country.

The minister gave out the hymn, and read it through with a relish, in a peculiar style which was much admired in that part of the country. His voice began on a medium key and climbed steadily up till it reached a certain point, where it bore with strong emphasis upon the topmost word and then plunged down as if from   a spring-board:

Shall I be car-ri-ed toe the skies, on flow'ry BEDS of ease,

Whilst others fight to win the prize, and sail thro' BLOOD-y seas?

He was regarded as a wonderful reader. At church "sociables" he was always called upon to read poetry; and when he was through, the ladies would lift up their hands and let them fall helplessly in their laps, and "wall" their eyes, and shake their heads, as much as to say, "Words cannot express it; it is too beautiful, TOO beautiful for this mortal earth."

After the hymn had been sung, the Rev. Mr. Sprague turned himself into a bulletin-board, and read off "notices" of meetings and societies and things till it seemed that the list would stretch out to the crack of doom—a queer custom which is still kept up in America, even in cities, away here in this age of abundant newspapers. Often, the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.

And now the minister prayed. A good, generous prayer it was, and went into details: it pleaded for the church, and the little children of the church; for the other churches of the village; for the village itself; for the county; for the State; for the State officers; for the United States; for the churches of the United States; for Congress; for the President; for the officers of the Government; for poor sailors, tossed by stormy seas; for the oppressed millions groaning under the heel of European monarchies and Oriental despotisms; for such as have the light and the good tidings, and yet have not eyes to see nor ears to hear withal; for the heathen in the far islands of the sea; and closed with a supplication that the words he was about to speak might find grace and favor, and be as seed sown in fertile ground, yielding in time a grateful harvest of good. Amen.

There was a rustling of dresses, and the standing congregation sat down. The boy whose history this book relates did not enjoy the prayer, he only endured it—if he even did that much. He was restive all through it; he kept tally of the details of the prayer, unconsciously—for he was not listening, but he knew the ground of old, and the clergyman's regular route over it—and when a little trifle of new matter was interlarded, his ear detected it and his whole nature resented it; he considered additions unfair, and scoundrelly. In the midst of the prayer a fly had lit on the back of the pew in front of him and tortured his spirit by calmly rubbing its hands together, embracing its head with its arms, and polishing it so vigorously that it seemed to almost part company with the body, and the slender thread of a neck was exposed to view; scraping its wings with its hind legs and smoothing them to its body as if they had been coat-tails; going through its whole toilet as tranquilly as if it knew it was perfectly safe. As indeed it was; for as sorely as Tom's hands itched to grab for it they did not dare—he believed his soul would be instantly destroyed if he did such a thing while the prayer was going on. But with the closing sentence his hand began to curve and steal forward; and the instant the "Amen" was out the fly was a prisoner of war. His aunt detected the act and made him let it go.

The minister gave out his text and droned along monotonously through an argument that was so prosy that many a head by and by began to nod—and yet it was an argument that dealt in limitless fire and brimstone and thinned the predestined elect down to a company so small as to be hardly worth the saving. Tom counted the pages of the sermon; after church he always knew how many pages there had been, but he seldom knew anything else about the discourse. However, this time he was really interested for a little while. The minister made a grand and moving picture of the assembling together of the world's hosts at the millennium when the lion and the lamb should lie down together and a little child should lead them. But the pathos, the lesson, the moral of the great spectacle were lost upon the boy; he only thought of the conspicuousness of the principal character before the on-looking nations; his face lit with the thought, and he said to himself that he wished he could be that child, if it was a tame lion.

Now he lapsed into suffering again, as the dry argument was resumed. Presently he bethought him of a treasure he had and got it out. It was a large black beetle with formidable jaws—a "pinchbug," he called it. It was in a percussion-cap box. The first thing the beetle did was to take him by the finger. A natural fillip followed, the beetle went floundering into the aisle and lit on its back, and the hurt finger went into the boy's mouth. The beetle lay there working its helpless legs, unable to turn over. Tom eyed it, and longed for it; but it was safe out of his reach. Other people uninterested in the sermon found relief in the beetle, and they eyed it too. Presently a vagrant poodle dog came idling along, sad at heart, lazy with the summer softness and the quiet, weary of captivity, sighing for change. He spied the beetle; the drooping tail lifted and wagged. He surveyed the prize; walked around it; smelt at it from a safe distance; walked around it again; grew bolder, and took a closer smell; then lifted his lip and made a gingerly snatch at it, just missing it; made another, and another; began to enjoy the diversion; subsided to his stomach with the beetle between his paws, and continued his experiments; grew weary at last, and then indifferent and absent-minded. His head nodded, and little by little his chin descended and touched the enemy, who seized it. There was a sharp yelp, a flirt of the poodle's head, and the beetle fell a couple of yards away, and lit on its back once more. The neighboring spectators shook with a gentle inward joy, several faces went behind fans and hand-kerchiefs, and Tom was entirely happy. The dog looked foolish, and probably felt so; but there was resentment in his heart, too, and a craving for revenge. So he went to the beetle and began a wary attack on it again; jumping at it from every point of a circle, lighting with his fore-paws within an inch of the creature, making even closer snatches at it with his teeth, and jerking his head till his ears flapped again. But he grew tired once more, after a while; tried to amuse himself with a fly but found no relief; followed an ant around, with his nose close to the floor, and quickly wearied of that; yawned, sighed, forgot the beetle entirely, and sat down on it. Then there was a wild yelp of agony and the poodle went sailing up the aisle; the yelps continued, and so did the dog; he crossed the house in front of the altar; he flew down the other aisle; he crossed before the doors; he clamored up the home-stretch; his anguish grew with his progress, till presently he was but a woolly comet moving in its orbit with the gleam and the speed of light. At last the frantic sufferer sheered from its course, and sprang into its master's lap; he flung it out of the window, and the voice of distress quickly thinned away and died in the distance.

By this time the whole church was red-faced and suffocating with suppressed laughter, and the sermon had come to a dead standstill. The discourse was resumed presently, but it went lame and halting, all possibility of impressiveness being at an end; for even the gravest sentiments were constantly being received with a smothered burst of unholy mirth, under cover of some remote pew-back, as if the poor parson had said a rarely facetious thing. It was a genuine relief to the whole congregation when the ordeal was over and the benediction pronounced.

Tom Sawyer went home quite cheerful, thinking to himself that there was some satisfaction about divine service when there was a bit of variety in it. He had but one marring thought; he was willing that the dog should play with his pinchbug, but he did not think it was upright in him to carry it off.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VI

MONDAY morning found Tom Sawyer miserable. Monday morning always found him so—because it began another week's slow suffering in school. He generally began that day with wishing he had had no intervening holiday, it made the going into captivity and fetters again so much more odious.

Tom lay thinking. Presently it occurred to him that he wished he was sick; then he could stay home from school. Here was a vague possibility. He canvassed his system. No ailment was found, and he investigated again. This time he thought he could detect colicky symptoms, and he began to encourage them with considerable hope. But they soon grew feeble, and presently died wholly away. He reflected further. Suddenly he discovered something. One of his upper front teeth was loose. This was lucky; he was about to begin to groan, as a "starter," as he called it, when it occurred to him that if he came into court with that argument, his aunt would pull it out, and that would hurt. So he thought he would hold the tooth in reserve for the present, and seek further. Nothing offered for some little time, and then he remembered hearing the doctor tell about a certain thing that laid up a patient for two or three weeks and threatened to make him lose a finger. So the boy eagerly drew his sore toe from under the sheet and held it up for inspection. But now he did not know the necessary symptoms. However, it seemed well worth while to chance it, so he fell to groaning with considerable spirit.

But Sid slept on unconscious.

Tom groaned louder, and fancied that he began to feel pain in the toe.

No result from Sid.

Tom was panting with his exertions by this time. He took a rest and then swelled himself up and fetched a succession of admirable groans.

Sid snored on.

Tom was aggravated. He said, "Sid, Sid!" and shook him. This course worked well, and Tom began to groan again. Sid yawned, stretched, then brought himself up on his elbow with a snort, and began to stare at Tom. Tom went on groaning. Sid said:

"Tom! Say, Tom!" [No response.] "Here, Tom! TOM! What is the matter, Tom?" And he shook him and looked in his face anxiously.

Tom moaned out:

"Oh, don't, Sid. Don't joggle me."

"Why, what's the matter, Tom? I must call auntie."

"No—never mind. It'll be over by and by, maybe. Don't call anybody."

"But I must! DON'T groan so, Tom, it's awful. How long you been this way?"

"Hours. Ouch! Oh, don't stir so, Sid, you'll kill me."

"Tom, why didn't you wake me sooner? Oh, Tom, DON'T! It makes my flesh crawl to hear you. Tom, what is the matter?"

"I forgive you everything, Sid. [Groan.] Everything you've ever done to me. When I'm gone—"

"Oh, Tom, you ain't dying, are you? Don't, Tom—oh, don't. Maybe—"

"I forgive everybody, Sid. [Groan.] Tell 'em so, Sid. And Sid, you give my window-sash and my cat with one eye to that new girl that's come to town, and tell her—"

But Sid had snatched his clothes and gone. Tom was suffering in reality, now, so handsomely was his imagination working, and so his groans had gathered quite a genuine tone.

Sid flew downstairs and said:

"Oh, Aunt Polly, come! Tom's dying!"

"Dying!"

"Yes'm. Don't wait—come quick!"

"Rubbage! I don't believe it!"

But she fled upstairs, nevertheless, with Sid and Mary at her heels. And her face grew white, too, and her lip trembled. When she reached the bedside she gasped out:

"You, Tom! Tom, what's the matter with you?"

"Oh, auntie, I'm—"

"What's the matter with you—what is the matter with you, child?"

"Oh, auntie, my sore toe's mortified!"

The old lady sank down into a chair and laughed a little, then cried a little, then did both together. This restored her and she said:

"Tom, what a turn you did give me. Now you shut up that nonsense and climb out of this."

The groans ceased and the pain vanished from the toe. The boy felt a little foolish, and he said:

"Aunt Polly, it SEEMED mortified, and it hurt so I never minded my tooth at all."

"Your tooth, indeed! What's the matter with your tooth?"

"One of them's loose, and it aches perfectly awful."

"There, there, now, don't begin that groaning again. Open your mouth. Well—your tooth IS loose, but you're not going to die about that. Mary, get me a silk thread, and a chunk of fire out of the kitchen."

Tom said:

"Oh, please, auntie, don't pull it out. It don't hurt any more. I wish I may never stir if it does. Please don't, auntie. I don't want to stay home from school."

"Oh, you don't, don't you? So all this row was because you thought you'd get to stay home from school and go a-fishing? Tom, Tom, I love you so, and you seem to try every way you can to break my old heart with your outrageousness." By this time the dental instruments were ready. The old lady made one end of the silk thread fast to Tom's tooth with a loop and tied the other to the bedpost. Then she seized the chunk of fire and suddenly thrust it almost into the boy's face. The tooth hung dangling by the bedpost, now.

But all trials bring their compensations. As Tom wended to school after breakfast, he was the envy of every boy he met because the gap in his upper row of teeth enabled him to expectorate in a new and admirable way. He gathered quite a following of lads interested in the exhibition; and one that had cut his finger and had been a centre of fascination and homage up to this time, now found himself suddenly without an adherent, and shorn of his glory. His heart was heavy, and he said with a disdain which he did not feel that it wasn't anything to spit like Tom Sawyer; but another boy said, "Sour grapes!" and he wandered away a dismantled hero.

Shortly Tom came upon the juvenile pariah of the village, Huckleberry Finn, son of the town drunkard. Huckleberry was cordially hated and dreaded by all the mothers of the town, because he was idle and lawless and vulgar and bad—and because all their children admired him so, and delighted in his forbidden society, and wished they dared to be like him. Tom was like the rest of the respectable boys, in that he envied Huckleberry his gaudy outcast condition, and was under strict orders not to play with him. So he played with him every time he got a chance. Huckleberry was always dressed in the cast-off clothes of full-grown men, and they were in perennial bloom and fluttering with rags. His hat was a vast ruin with a wide crescent lopped out of its brim; his coat, when he wore one, hung nearly to his heels and had the rearward buttons far down the back; but one suspender supported his trousers; the seat of the trousers bagged low and contained nothing, the fringed legs dragged in the dirt when not rolled up.

Huckleberry came and went, at his own free will. He slept on doorsteps in fine weather and in empty hogsheads in wet; he did not have to go to school or to church, or call any being master or obey anybody; he could go fishing or swimming when and where he chose, and stay as long as it suited him; nobody forbade him to fight; he could sit up as late as he pleased; he was always the first boy that went barefoot in the spring and the last to resume leather in the fall; he never had to wash, nor put on clean clothes; he could swear wonderfully. In a word, everything that goes to make life precious that boy had. So thought every harassed, hampered, respectable boy in St. Petersburg.

Tom hailed the romantic outcast:

"Hello, Huckleberry!"

"Hello yourself, and see how you like it."

"What's that you got?"

"Dead cat."

"Lemme see him, Huck. My, he's pretty stiff. Where'd you get him?"

"Bought him off'n a boy."

"What did you give?"

"I give a blue ticket and a bladder that I got at the slaughter-house."

"Where'd you get the blue ticket?"

"Bought it off'n Ben Rogers two weeks ago for a hoop-stick."

"Say—what is dead cats good for, Huck?"

"Good for? Cure warts with."

"No! Is that so? I know something that's better."

"I bet you don't. What is it?"

"Why, spunk-water."

"Spunk-water! I wouldn't give a dern for spunk-water."

"You wouldn't, wouldn't you? D'you ever try it?"

"No, I hain't. But Bob Tanner did."

"Who told you so!"

"Why, he told Jeff Thatcher, and Jeff told Johnny Baker, and Johnny told Jim Hollis, and Jim told Ben Rogers, and Ben told a nigger, and the nigger told me.   There now!"

"Well, what of it? They'll all lie. Leastways all but the nigger. I don't know HIM. But I never see a nigger that WOULDN'T lie. Shucks! Now you tell me how Bob Tanner done it, Huck."

"Why, he took and dipped his hand in a rotten stump where the rain-water was."

"In the daytime?"

"Certainly."

"With his face to the stump?"

"Yes. Least I reckon so."

"Did he say anything?"

"I don't reckon he did. I don't know."

"Aha! Talk about trying to cure warts with spunk-water such a blame fool way as that! Why, that ain't a-going to do any good. You got to go all by yourself, to the middle of the woods, where you know there's a spunk- water stump, and just as it's midnight you back up against the stump and jam your hand in and say:

'Barley-corn, barley-corn, injun-meal shorts, Spunk-water, spunk-water, swaller these warts,'

and then walk away quick, eleven steps, with your eyes shut, and then turn around three times and walk home without speaking to anybody. Because if you speak the charm's busted."

"Well, that sounds like a good way; but that ain't the way Bob Tanner done."

"No, sir, you can bet he didn't, becuz he's the wartiest boy in this town; and he wouldn't have a wart on him if he'd knowed how to work spunk-water. I've took off thousands of warts off of my hands that way, Huck. I play with frogs so much that I've always got considerable many warts. Sometimes I take 'em off with a bean."

"Yes, bean's good. I've done that."

"Have you? What's your way?"

"You take and split the bean, and cut the wart so as to get some blood, and then you put the blood on one piece of the bean and take and dig a hole and bury it 'bout midnight at the crossroads in the dark of the moon, and then you burn up the rest of the bean. You see that piece that's got the blood on it will keep drawing and drawing, trying to fetch the other piece to it, and so that helps the blood to draw the wart, and pretty soon off she comes."

"Yes, that's it, Huck—that's it; though when you're burying it if you say 'Down bean; off wart; come no more to bother me!' it's better. That's the way Joe Harper does, and he's been nearly to Coonville and most everywheres. But say—how do you cure 'em with dead cats?"

"Why, you take your cat and go and get in the grave-yard 'long about midnight when somebody that was wicked has been buried; and when it's midnight a devil will come, or maybe two or three, but you can't see 'em, you can only hear something like the wind, or maybe hear 'em talk; and when they're taking that feller away, you heave your cat after 'em and say, 'Devil follow corpse, cat follow devil, warts follow cat, I'm done with ye!' That'll fetch ANY wart."

"Sounds right. D'you ever try it, Huck?"

"No, but old Mother Hopkins told me."

"Well, I reckon it's so, then. Becuz they say she's a witch."

"Say! Why, Tom, I KNOW she is. She witched pap. Pap says so his own self. He come along one day, and he see she was a-witching him, so he took up a rock, and if she hadn't dodged, he'd a got her. Well, that very night he rolled off'n a shed wher' he was a layin drunk, and broke his arm."

"Why, that's awful. How did he know she was a-witching him?"

"Lord, pap can tell, easy. Pap says when they keep looking at you right stiddy, they're a-witching you. Specially if they mumble. Becuz when they mumble they're saying the Lord's Prayer backards."

"Say, Hucky, when you going to try the cat?"

"To-night. I reckon they'll come after old Hoss Williams to-night."

"But they buried him Saturday. Didn't they get him Saturday night?"

"Why, how you talk! How could their charms work till midnight?—and THEN it's Sunday. Devils don't slosh around much of a Sunday, I don't reckon."

"I never thought of that. That's so. Lemme go with you?"

"Of course—if you ain't afeard."

"Afeard! 'Tain't likely. Will you meow?"

"Yes—and you meow back, if you get a chance. Last time, you kep' me a-meowing around till old Hays went to throwing rocks at me and says 'Dern that cat!' and so I hove a brick through his window—but don't you tell."

"I won't. I couldn't meow that night, becuz auntie was watching me, but I'll meow this time. Say—what's that?"

"Nothing but a tick."

"Where'd you get him?"

"Out in the woods."

"What'll you take for him?"

"I don't know. I don't want to sell him."

"All right. It's a mighty small tick, anyway."

"Oh, anybody can run a tick down that don't belong to them. I'm satisfied with it. It's a good enough tick for me."

"Sho, there's ticks a plenty. I could have a thousand of 'em if I wanted to."

"Well, why don't you? Becuz you know mighty well you can't. This is a pretty early tick, I reckon. It's the first one I've seen this year."

"Say, Huck—I'll give you my tooth for him."

"Less see it."

Tom got out a bit of paper and carefully unrolled it. Huckleberry viewed it wistfully. The temptation was very strong. At last he said:

"Is it genuwyne?"

Tom lifted his lip and showed the vacancy.

"Well, all right," said Huckleberry, "it's a trade."

Tom enclosed the tick in the percussion-cap box that had lately been the pinchbug's prison, and the boys separated, each feeling wealthier than before.

When Tom reached the little isolated frame school-house, he strode in briskly, with the manner of one who had come with all honest speed. He hung his hat on a peg and flung himself into his seat with business-like alacrity. The master, throned on high in his great splint-bottom arm-chair, was dozing, lulled by the drowsy hum of study. The interruption roused him.

"Thomas Sawyer!"

Tom knew that when his name was pronounced in full, it meant trouble.

"Sir!"

"Come up here. Now, sir, why are you late again, as usual?"

Tom was about to take refuge in a lie, when he saw two long tails of yellow hair hanging down a back that he recognized by the electric sympathy of love; and by that form was THE ONLY VACANT PLACE on the girls' side of the school-house. He instantly said:

"I STOPPED TO TALK WITH HUCKLEBERRY FINN!"

The master's pulse stood still, and he stared helplessly. The buzz of study ceased. The pupils wondered if this foolhardy boy had lost his mind. The master said:

"You—you did what?"

"Stopped to talk with Huckleberry Finn."

There was no mistaking the words.

"Thomas Sawyer, this is the most astounding confession I have ever listened to. No mere ferule will answer for this offence. Take off your jacket."

The master's arm performed until it was tired and the stock of switches notably diminished. Then the order followed:

"Now, sir, go and sit with the girls! And let this be a warning to you."

The titter that rippled around the room appeared to abash the boy, but in reality that result was caused rather more by his worshipful awe of his unknown idol and the dread pleasure that lay in his high good fortune. He sat down upon the end of the pine bench and the girl hitched herself away from him with a toss of her head. Nudges and winks and whispers traversed the room, but Tom sat still, with his arms upon the long, low desk before him, and seemed to study his book.

By and by attention ceased from him, and the accustomed school murmur rose upon the dull air once more. Presently the boy began to steal furtive glances at the girl. She observed it, "made a mouth" at him and gave him the back of her head for the space of a minute. When she cautiously faced around again, a peach lay before her. She thrust it away. Tom gently put it back. She thrust it away again, but with less animosity. Tom patiently returned it to its place. Then she let it remain. Tom scrawled on his slate, "Please take it—I got more." The girl glanced at the words, but made no sign. Now the boy began to draw something on the slate, hiding his work with his left hand. For a time the girl refused to notice; but her human curiosity presently began to manifest itself by hardly perceptible signs. The boy worked on, apparently unconscious. The girl made a sort of non-committal attempt to see, but the boy did not betray that he was aware of it. At last she gave in and hesitatingly whispered:

"Let me see it."

Tom partly uncovered a dismal caricature of a house with two gable ends to it and a corkscrew of smoke issuing from the chimney. Then the girl's interest began to fasten itself upon the work and she forgot everything else. When it was finished, she gazed a moment, then whispered:

"It's nice—make a man."

The artist erected a man in the front yard, that resembled a derrick. He could have stepped over the house; but the girl was not hypercritical; she was satisfied with the monster, and whispered:

"It's a beautiful man—now make me coming along."

Tom drew an hour-glass with a full moon and straw limbs to it and armed the spreading fingers with a portentous fan. The girl said:

"It's ever so nice—I wish I could draw."

"It's easy," whispered Tom, "I'll learn you."

"Oh, will you? When?"

"At noon. Do you go home to dinner?"

"I'll stay if you will."

"Good—that's a whack. What's your name?"

"Becky Thatcher. What's yours? Oh, I know. It's Thomas Sawyer."

"That's the name they lick me by. I'm Tom when I'm good. You call me Tom, will you?"

"Yes."

Now Tom began to scrawl something on the slate, hiding the words from the girl. But she was not backward this time. She begged to see. Tom said:

"Oh, it ain't anything."

"Yes it is."

"No it ain't. You don't want to see."

"Yes I do, indeed I do. Please let me."

"You'll tell."

"No I won't—deed and deed and double deed won't."

"You won't tell anybody at all? Ever, as long as you live?"

"No, I won't ever tell ANYbody. Now let me."

"Oh, YOU don't want to see!"

"Now that you treat me so, I WILL see." And she put her small hand upon his and a little scuffle ensued, Tom pretending to resist in earnest but letting his hand slip by degrees till these words were revealed: "I LOVE YOU."

"Oh, you bad thing!" And she hit his hand a smart rap, but reddened and looked pleased, nevertheless.

Just at this juncture the boy felt a slow, fateful grip closing on his ear, and a steady lifting impulse. In that wise he was borne across the house and deposited in his own seat, under a peppering fire of giggles from the whole school. Then the master stood over him during a few awful moments, and finally moved away to his throne without saying a word. But although Tom's ear tingled, his heart was jubilant.

As the school quieted down Tom made an honest effort to study, but the turmoil within him was too great. In turn he took his place in the reading class and   made a botch of it; then in the geography class and turned lakes into mountains, mountains into rivers, and rivers into continents, till chaos was come again; then in the spelling class, and got "turned down," by a succession of mere baby words, till he brought up at the foot and yielded up the pewter medal which he had worn with ostentation for months.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VII

THE harder Tom tried to fasten his mind on his book, the more his ideas wandered. So at last, with a sigh and a yawn, he gave it up. It seemed to him that the noon recess would never come. The air was utterly dead. There was not a breath stirring. It was the sleepiest of sleepy days. The drowsing murmur of the five and twenty studying scholars soothed the soul like the spell that is in the murmur of bees. Away off in the flaming sunshine, Cardiff Hill lifted its soft green sides through a shimmering veil of heat, tinted with the purple of distance; a few birds floated on lazy wing high in the air; no other living thing was visible but some cows, and they were asleep. Tom's heart ached to be free, or else to have something of interest to do to pass the dreary time. His hand wandered into his pocket and his face lit up with a glow of gratitude that was prayer, though he did not know it. Then furtively the percussion-cap box came out. He released the tick and put him on the long flat desk. The creature probably glowed with a gratitude that amounted to prayer, too, at this moment, but it was premature: for when he started thankfully to travel off, Tom turned him aside with a pin and made him take a new direction.

Tom's bosom friend sat next him, suffering just as Tom had been, and now he was deeply and gratefully interested in this entertainment in an instant. This bosom friend was Joe Harper. The two boys were sworn friends all the week, and embattled enemies on Saturdays. Joe took a pin out of his lapel and began to assist in exercising the prisoner. The sport grew in interest momently. Soon Tom said that they were interfering with each other, and neither getting the fullest benefit of the tick. So he put Joe's slate on the desk and drew a line down the middle of it from top to bottom.

"Now," said he, "as long as he is on your side you can stir him up and I'll let him alone; but if you let him get away and get on my side, you're to leave him alone as long as I can keep him from crossing over."

"All right, go ahead; start him up."

The tick escaped from Tom, presently, and crossed the equator. Joe harassed him awhile, and then he got away and crossed back again. This change of base occurred often. While one boy was worrying the tick with absorbing interest, the other would look on with interest as strong, the two heads bowed together over the slate, and the two souls dead to all things else. At last luck seemed to settle and abide with Joe. The tick tried this, that, and the other course, and got as excited and as anxious as the boys themselves, but time and again just as he would have victory in his very grasp, so to speak, and Tom's fingers would be twitching to begin, Joe's pin would deftly head him off, and keep possession. At last Tom could stand it no longer. The temptation was too strong. So he reached out and lent a hand with his pin. Joe was angry in a moment. Said he:

"Tom, you let him alone."

"I only just want to stir him up a little, Joe."

"No, sir, it ain't fair; you just let him alone."

"Blame it, I ain't going to stir him much."

"Let him alone, I tell you."

"I won't!"

"You shall—he's on my side of the line."

"Look here, Joe Harper, whose is that tick?"

"I don't care whose tick he is—he's on my side of the line, and you sha'n't touch him."

"Well, I'll just bet I will, though. He's my tick and I'll do what I blame please with him, or die!"

A tremendous whack came down on Tom's shoulders, and its duplicate on Joe's; and for the space of two minutes the dust continued to fly from the two jackets and the whole school to enjoy it. The boys had been too absorbed to notice the hush that had stolen upon the school awhile before when the master came tiptoeing down the room and stood over them. He had contemplated a good part of the performance before he contributed his bit of variety to it.

When school broke up at noon, Tom flew to Becky Thatcher, and whispered in her ear:

"Put on your bonnet and let on you're going home; and when you get to the corner, give the rest of 'em the slip, and turn down through the lane and come back. I'll go the other way and come it over 'em the same way."

So the one went off with one group of scholars, and the other with another. In a little while the two met at the bottom of the lane, and when they reached the school they had it all to themselves. Then they sat together, with a slate before them, and Tom gave Becky the pencil and held her hand in his, guiding it, and so created another surprising house. When the interest in art began to wane, the two fell to talking. Tom was swimming in bliss. He said:

"Do you love rats?"

"No! I hate them!"

"Well, I do, too—LIVE ones. But I mean dead ones, to swing round your head with a string."

"No, I don't care for rats much, anyway. What I like is chewing-gum."

"Oh, I should say so! I wish I had some now."

"Do you? I've got some. I'll let you chew it awhile, but you must give it back to me."

That was agreeable, so they chewed it turn about, and dangled their legs against the bench in excess of contentment.

"Was you ever at a circus?" said Tom.

"Yes, and my pa's going to take me again some time, if I'm good."

"I been to the circus three or four times—lots of times. Church ain't shucks to a circus. There's things going on at a circus all the time. I'm going to be a clown in a circus when I grow up."

"Oh, are you! That will be nice. They're so lovely, all spotted up."

"Yes, that's so. And they get slathers of money—most a dollar a day, Ben Rogers says. Say, Becky, was you ever engaged?"

"What's that?"

"Why, engaged to be married."

"No."

"Would you like to?"

"I reckon so. I don't know. What is it like?"

"Like? Why it ain't like anything. You only just tell a boy you won't ever have anybody but him, ever ever ever, and then you kiss and that's all. Anybody can do it."

"Kiss? What do you kiss for?"

"Why, that, you know, is to—well, they always do that."

"Everybody?"

"Why, yes, everybody that's in love with each other. Do you remember what I wrote on the slate?"

"Ye—yes."

"What was it?"

"I sha'n't tell you."

"Shall I tell YOU?"

"Ye—yes—but some other time."

"No, now."

"No, not now—to-morrow."

"Oh, no, NOW. Please, Becky—I'll whisper it, I'll whisper it ever so easy."

Becky hesitating, Tom took silence for consent, and passed his arm about her waist and whispered the tale ever so softly, with his mouth close to her ear. And then he added:

"Now you whisper it to me—just the same."

She resisted, for a while, and then said:

"You turn your face away so you can't see, and then I will. But you mustn't ever tell anybody—WILL you, Tom? Now you won't, WILL you?"

"No, indeed, indeed I won't. Now, Becky."

He turned his face away. She bent timidly around till her breath stirred his curls and whispered, "I—love—you!"

Then she sprang away and ran around and around the desks and benches, with Tom after her, and took refuge in a corner at last, with her little white apron to her face. Tom clasped her about her neck and pleaded:

"Now, Becky, it's all done—all over but the kiss. Don't you be afraid of that—it ain't anything at all. Please, Becky." And he tugged at her apron and the hands.

By and by she gave up, and let her hands drop; her face, all glowing with the struggle, came up and submitted. Tom kissed the red lips and said:

"Now it's all done, Becky. And always after this, you know, you ain't ever to love anybody but me, and you ain't ever to marry anybody but me, ever never and forever. Will you?"

"No, I'll never love anybody but you, Tom, and I'll never marry anybody but you—and you ain't to ever marry anybody but me, either."

"Certainly. Of course. That's PART of it. And always coming to school or when we're going home, you're to walk with me, when there ain't anybody looking—and you choose me and I choose you at parties, because that's the way you do when you're engaged."

"It's so nice. I never heard of it before."

"Oh, it's ever so gay! Why, me and Amy Lawrence—"

The big eyes told Tom his blunder and he stopped, confused.

"Oh, Tom! Then I ain't the first you've ever been engaged to!"

The child began to cry. Tom said:

"Oh, don't cry, Becky, I don't care for her any more."

"Yes, you do, Tom—you know you do."

Tom tried to put his arm about her neck, but she pushed him away and turned her face to the wall, and went on crying. Tom tried again, with soothing words in his mouth, and was repulsed again. Then his pride was up, and he strode away and went outside. He stood about, restless and uneasy, for a while, glancing at the door, every now and then, hoping she would repent and come to find him. But she did not. Then he began to feel badly and fear that he was in the wrong. It was a hard struggle with him to make new advances, now, but he nerved himself to it and entered. She was still standing back there in the corner, sobbing, with her face to the wall. Tom's heart smote him. He went to her and stood a moment, not knowing exactly how to proceed. Then he said hesitatingly:

"Becky, I—I don't care for anybody but you."

No reply—but sobs.

"Becky"—pleadingly. "Becky, won't you say something?"

More sobs.

Tom got out his chiefest jewel, a brass knob from the top of an andiron, and passed it around her so that she could see it, and said:

"Please, Becky, won't you take it?"

She struck it to the floor. Then Tom marched out of the house and over the hills and far away, to return to school no more that day. Presently Becky began to suspect. She ran to the door; he was not in sight; she flew around to the play-yard; he was not there. Then she called:

"Tom! Come back, Tom!"

She listened intently, but there was no answer. She had no companions but silence and loneliness. So she sat down to cry again and upbraid herself; and by this time the scholars began to gather again, and she had to hide her griefs and still her broken heart and take up the cross of a long, dreary, aching afternoon, with none among the strangers about her to exchange sorrows with.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VIII

TOM dodged hither and thither through lanes until he was well out of the track of returning scholars, and then fell into a moody jog. He crossed a small "branch" two or three times, because of a prevailing juvenile superstition that to cross water baffled pursuit. Half an hour later he was disappearing behind the Douglas mansion on the summit of Cardiff Hill, and the school-house was hardly distinguishable away off in the valley behind him. He entered a dense wood, picked his pathless way to the centre of it, and sat down on a mossy spot under a spreading oak. There was not even a zephyr stirring; the dead noonday heat had even stilled the songs of the birds; nature lay in a trance that was broken by no sound but the occasional far-off hammering of a wood-pecker, and this seemed to render the pervading silence and sense of loneliness the more profound. The boy's soul was steeped in melancholy; his feelings were in happy accord with his surroundings. He sat long with his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands, meditating. It seemed to him that life was but a trouble, at best, and he more than half envied Jimmy Hodges, so lately released; it must be very peaceful, he thought, to lie and slumber and dream forever and ever, with the wind whispering through the trees and caressing the grass and the flowers over the grave, and nothing to bother and grieve about, ever any more. If he only had a clean Sunday-school record he could be willing to go, and be done with it all. Now as to this girl. What had he done? Nothing. He had meant the best in the world, and been treated like a dog—like a very dog. She would be sorry some day—maybe when it was too late. Ah, if he could only die TEMPORARILY!

But the elastic heart of youth cannot be compressed into one constrained shape long at a time. Tom presently began to drift insensibly back into the concerns of this life again. What if he turned his back, now, and disappeared mysteriously? What if he went away—ever so far away, into unknown countries beyond the seas—and never came back any more! How would she feel then! The idea of being a clown recurred to him now, only to fill him with disgust. For frivolity and jokes and spotted tights were an offense, when they intruded themselves upon a spirit that was exalted into the vague august realm of the romantic. No, he would be a soldier, and return after long years, all war-worn and illustrious. No—better still, he would join the Indians, and hunt buffaloes and go on the warpath in the mountain ranges and the trackless great plains of the Far West, and away in the future come back a great chief, bristling with feathers, hideous with paint, and prance into Sunday-school, some drowsy summer morning, with a blood-curdling war-whoop, and sear the eyeballs of all his companions with unappeasable envy. But no, there was something gaudier even than this. He would be a pirate! That was it! NOW his future lay plain before him, and glowing with unimaginable splendor. How his name would fill the world, and make people shudder! How gloriously he would go plowing the dancing seas, in his long, low, black-hulled racer, the Spirit of the Storm, with his grisly flag flying at the fore! And at the zenith of his fame, how he would suddenly appear at the old village and stalk into church, brown and weather-beaten, in his black velvet doublet and trunks, his great jack-boots, his crimson sash, his belt bristling with horse-pistols, his crime-rusted cutlass at his side, his slouch hat with waving plumes, his black flag unfurled, with the skull and crossbones on it, and hear with swelling ecstasy the whisperings, "It's Tom Sawyer the Pirate!—the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main!"

Yes, it was settled; his career was determined. He would run away from home and enter upon it. He would start the very next morning. Therefore he must now begin to get ready. He would collect his resources together. He went to a rotten log near at hand and began to dig under one end of it with his Barlow knife. He soon struck wood that sounded hollow. He put his hand there and uttered this incantation impressively:

"What hasn't come here, come! What's here, stay here!"

Then he scraped away the dirt, and exposed a pine shingle. He took it up and disclosed a shapely little treasure-house whose bottom and sides were of shingles. In it lay a marble. Tom's astonishment was bound-less! He scratched his head with a perplexed air, and said:

"Well, that beats anything!"

Then he tossed the marble away pettishly, and stood cogitating. The truth was, that a superstition of his had failed, here, which he and all his comrades had always looked upon as infallible. If you buried a marble with certain necessary incantations, and left it alone a fortnight, and then opened the place with the incantation he had just used, you would find that all the marbles you had ever lost had gathered themselves together there, meantime, no matter how widely they had been separated. But now, this thing had actually and unquestionably failed. Tom's whole structure of faith was shaken to its foundations. He had many a time heard of this thing succeeding but never of its failing before. It did not occur to him that he had tried it several times before, himself, but could never find the hiding-places afterward. He puzzled over the matter some time, and finally decided that some witch had interfered and broken the charm. He thought he would satisfy himself on that point; so he searched around till he found a small sandy spot with a little funnel-shaped depression in it. He laid himself down and put his mouth close to this depression and called—

"Doodle-bug, doodle-bug, tell me what I want to know! Doodle-bug, doodle-bug, tell me what I want to know!"

The sand began to work, and presently a small black bug appeared for a second and then darted under again in a fright.

"He dasn't tell! So it WAS a witch that done it. I just knowed it."

He well knew the futility of trying to contend against witches, so he gave up discouraged. But it occurred to him that he might as well have the marble he had just thrown away, and therefore he went and made a patient search for it. But he could not find it. Now he went back to his treasure-house and carefully placed himself just as he had been standing when he tossed the marble away; then he took another marble from his pocket and tossed it in the same way, saying:

"Brother, go find your brother!"

He watched where it stopped, and went there and looked. But it must have fallen short or gone too far; so he tried twice more. The last repetition was successful. The two marbles lay within a foot of each other.

Just here the blast of a toy tin trumpet came faintly down the green aisles of   the forest. Tom flung off his jacket and trousers, turned a suspender into a belt, raked away some brush behind the rotten log, disclosing a rude bow and arrow, a lath sword and a tin trumpet, and in a moment had seized these things and bounded away, barelegged, with fluttering shirt. He presently halted under a great elm, blew an answering blast, and then began to tiptoe and look warily out, this way and that. He said cautiously—to an imaginary company:

"Hold, my merry men! Keep hid till I blow."

Now appeared Joe Harper, as airily clad and elaborately armed as Tom. Tom called:

"Hold! Who comes here into Sherwood Forest without my pass?"

"Guy of Guisborne wants no man's pass. Who art thou that—that—"

"Dares to hold such language," said Tom, prompting—for they talked "by the book," from memory.

"Who art thou that dares to hold such language?"

"I, indeed! I am Robin Hood, as thy caitiff carcase soon shall know."

"Then art thou indeed that famous outlaw? Right gladly will I dispute with thee the passes of the merry wood. Have at thee!"

They took their lath swords, dumped their other traps on the ground, struck a fencing attitude, foot to foot, and began a grave, careful combat, "two up and two down." Presently Tom said:

"Now, if you've got the hang, go it lively!"

So they "went it lively," panting and perspiring with the work. By and by Tom shouted:

"Fall! fall! Why don't you fall?"

"I sha'n't! Why don't you fall yourself? You're getting the worst of it."

"Why, that ain't anything. I can't fall; that ain't the way it is in the book. The book says, 'Then with one back-handed stroke he slew poor Guy of Guisborne.' You're to turn around and let me hit you in the back."

There was no getting around the authorities, so Joe turned, received the whack and fell.

"Now," said Joe, getting up, "you got to let me kill YOU. That's fair."

"Why, I can't do that, it ain't in the book."

"Well, it's blamed mean—that's all."

"Well, say, Joe, you can be Friar Tuck or Much the miller's son, and lam me with a quarter-staff; or I'll be the Sheriff of Nottingham and you be Robin Hood a little while and kill me."

This was satisfactory, and so these adventures were carried out. Then Tom became Robin Hood again, and was allowed by the treacherous nun to bleed his strength away through his neglected wound. And at last Joe, representing a whole tribe of weeping outlaws, dragged him sadly forth, gave his bow into his feeble hands, and Tom said, "Where this arrow falls, there bury poor Robin Hood under the greenwood tree." Then he shot the arrow and fell back and would have died, but he lit on a nettle and sprang up too gaily for a corpse.

The boys dressed themselves, hid their accoutrements, and went off grieving that there were no outlaws any more, and wondering what modern civilization could claim to have done to compensate for their loss. They said they would rather be outlaws a year in Sherwood Forest than President of the United States forever.

 

 

CHAPTER IX

AT half-past nine, that night, Tom and Sid were sent to bed, as usual. They said their prayers, and Sid was soon asleep. Tom lay awake and waited, in restless impatience. When it seemed to him that it must be nearly daylight, he heard the clock strike ten! This was despair. He would have tossed and fidgeted, as his nerves demanded, but he was afraid he might wake Sid. So he lay still, and stared up into the dark. Everything was dismally still. By and by, out of the stillness, little, scarcely perceptible noises began to emphasize themselves. The ticking of the clock began to bring itself into notice. Old beams began to crack mysteriously. The stairs creaked faintly. Evidently spirits were abroad. A measured, muffled snore issued from Aunt Polly's chamber. And now the tiresome chirping of a cricket that no human ingenuity could locate, began. Next the ghastly ticking of a death-watch in the wall at the bed's head made Tom shudder—it meant that somebody's days were numbered. Then the howl of a far-off dog rose on the night air, and was answered by a fainter howl from a remoter distance. Tom was in an agony. At last he was satisfied that time had ceased and eternity begun; he began to doze, in spite of himself; the clock chimed eleven, but he did not hear it. And then there came, mingling with his half-formed dreams, a most melancholy caterwauling. The raising of a neighboring window disturbed him. A cry of "Scat! you devil!" and the crash of an empty bottle against the back of his aunt's woodshed brought him wide awake, and a single minute later he was dressed and out of the window and creeping along the roof of the "ell" on all fours. He "meow'd" with caution once or twice, as he went; then jumped to the roof of the woodshed and thence to the ground. Huckleberry Finn was there, with his dead cat. The boys moved off and disappeared in the gloom. At the end of half an hour they were wading through the tall grass of the graveyard.

It was a graveyard of the old-fashioned Western kind. It was on a hill, about a mile and a half from the village. It had a crazy board fence around it, which leaned inward in places, and outward the rest of the time, but stood upright nowhere. Grass and weeds grew rank over the whole cemetery. All the old graves were sunken in, there was not a tombstone on the place; round-topped, worm-eaten boards staggered over the graves, leaning for support and finding none. "Sacred to the memory of" So-and-So had been painted on them once, but it could no longer have been read, on the most of them, now, even if there had been light.

A faint wind moaned through the trees, and Tom feared it might be the spirits of the dead, complaining at being disturbed. The boys talked little, and only under their breath, for the time and the place and the pervading solemnity and silence oppressed their spirits. They found the sharp new heap they were seeking, and ensconced themselves within the protection of three great elms that grew in a bunch within a few feet of the grave.

Then they waited in silence for what seemed a long time. The hooting of a distant owl was all the sound that troubled the dead stillness. Tom's reflections grew oppressive. He must force some talk. So he said in a whisper:

"Hucky, do you believe the dead people like it for us to be here?"

Huckleberry whispered:

"I wisht I knowed. It's awful solemn like, AIN'T it?"

"I bet it is."

There was a considerable pause, while the boys canvassed this matter inwardly. Then Tom whispered:

"Say, Hucky—do you reckon Hoss Williams hears us talking?"

"O' course he does. Least his sperrit does."

Tom, after a pause:

"I wish I'd said Mister Williams. But I never meant any harm. Everybody calls him Hoss."

"A body can't be too partic'lar how they talk 'bout these-yer dead people, Tom."

This was a damper, and conversation died again.

Presently Tom seized his comrade's arm and said:

"Sh!"

"What is it, Tom?" And the two clung together with beating hearts.

"Sh! There 'tis again! Didn't you hear it?"

"I—"

"There! Now you hear it."

"Lord, Tom, they're coming! They're coming, sure. What'll we do?"

"I dono. Think they'll see us?"

"Oh, Tom, they can see in the dark, same as cats. I wisht I hadn't come."

"Oh, don't be afeard. I don't believe they'll bother us. We ain't doing any harm. If we keep perfectly still, maybe they won't notice us at all."

"I'll try to, Tom, but, Lord, I'm all of a shiver."

"Listen!"

The boys bent their heads together and scarcely breathed. A muffled sound of voices floated up from the far end of the graveyard.

"Look! See there!" whispered Tom. "What is it?"

"It's devil-fire. Oh, Tom, this is awful."

Some vague figures approached through the gloom, swinging an old-fashioned tin lantern that freckled the ground with innumerable little spangles of light. Presently Huckleberry whispered with a shudder:

"It's the devils sure enough. Three of 'em! Lordy, Tom, we're goners! Can you pray?"

"I'll try, but don't you be afeard. They ain't going to hurt us. 'Now I lay me down to sleep, I—'"

"Sh!"

"What is it, Huck?"

"They're HUMANS! One of 'em is, anyway. One of 'em's old Muff Potter's voice."

"No—'tain't so, is it?"

"I bet I know it. Don't you stir nor budge. He ain't sharp enough to notice us. Drunk, the same as usual, likely—blamed old rip!"

"All right, I'll keep still. Now they're stuck. Can't find it. Here they come again. Now they're hot. Cold again. Hot again. Red hot! They're p'inted right, this time. Say, Huck, I know another o' them voices; it's Injun Joe."

"That's so—that murderin' half-breed! I'd druther they was devils a dern sight. What kin they be up to?"

The whisper died wholly out, now, for the three men had reached the grave and stood within a few feet of the boys' hiding-place.

"Here it is," said the third voice; and the owner of it held the lantern up and revealed the face of young Doctor Robinson.

Potter and Injun Joe were carrying a handbarrow with a rope and a couple of shovels on it. They cast down their load and began to open the grave. The doctor put the lantern at the head of the grave and came and sat down with his back against one of the elm trees. He was so close the boys could have touched him.

"Hurry, men!" he said, in a low voice; "the moon might come out at any moment."

They growled a response and went on digging. For some time there was no noise but the grating sound of the spades discharging their freight of mould and gravel. It was very monotonous. Finally a spade struck upon the coffin with a dull woody accent, and within another minute or two the men had hoisted it out   on the ground. They pried off the lid with their shovels, got out the body and dumped it rudely on the ground. The moon drifted from behind the clouds and exposed the pallid face. The barrow was got ready and the corpse placed on it, covered with a blanket, and bound to its place with the rope. Potter took out a large spring-knife and cut off the dangling end of the rope and then said:

"Now the cussed thing's ready, Sawbones, and you'll just out with another five, or here she stays."

"That's the talk!" said Injun Joe.

"Look here, what does this mean?" said the doctor. "You required your pay in advance, and I've paid you."

"Yes, and you done more than that," said Injun Joe, approaching the doctor, who was now standing. "Five years ago you drove me away from your father's kitchen one night, when I come to ask for something to eat, and you said I warn't there for any good; and when I swore I'd get even with you if it took a hundred years, your father had me jailed for a vagrant. Did you think I'd forget? The Injun blood ain't in me for nothing. And now I've GOT you, and you got to SETTLE, you know!"

He was threatening the doctor, with his fist in his face, by this time. The doctor struck out suddenly and stretched the ruffian on the ground. Potter dropped his knife, and exclaimed:

"Here, now, don't you hit my pard!" and the next moment he had grappled with the doctor and the two were struggling with might and main, trampling the grass and tearing the ground with their heels. Injun Joe sprang to his feet, his eyes flaming with passion, snatched up Potter's knife, and went creeping, catlike and stooping, round and round about the combatants, seeking an opportunity. All at once the doctor flung himself free, seized the heavy headboard of Williams' grave and felled Potter to the earth with it—and in the same instant the half-breed saw his chance and drove the knife to the hilt in the young man's breast. He reeled and fell partly upon Potter, flooding him with his blood, and in the same moment the clouds blotted out the dreadful spectacle and the two frightened boys went speeding away in the dark.

Presently, when the moon emerged again, Injun Joe was standing over the two forms, contemplating them. The doctor murmured inarticulately, gave a long gasp or two and was still. The half-breed muttered:

"THAT score is settled—damn you."

Then he robbed the body. After which he put the fatal knife in Potter's open right hand, and sat down on the dismantled coffin. Three—four—five minutes passed, and then Potter began to stir and moan. His hand closed upon the knife; he raised it, glanced at it, and let it fall, with a shudder. Then he sat up, pushing the body from him, and gazed at it, and then around him, confusedly. His eyes met Joe's.

"Lord, how is this, Joe?" he said.

"It's a dirty business," said Joe, without moving.

"What did you do it for?"

"I! I never done it!"

"Look here! That kind of talk won't wash."

Potter trembled and grew white.

"I thought I'd got sober. I'd no business to drink to-night. But it's in my head yet—worse'n when we started here. I'm all in a muddle; can't recollect anything of it, hardly. Tell me, Joe—HONEST, now, old feller—did I do it? Joe, I never meant to—'pon my soul and honor, I never meant to, Joe. Tell me how it was, Joe. Oh, it's awful—and him so young and promising."

"Why, you two was scuffling, and he fetched you one with the headboard and you fell flat; and then up you come, all reeling and staggering like, and snatched the knife and jammed it into him, just as he fetched you another awful clip—and here you've laid, as dead as a wedge til now."

"Oh, I didn't know what I was a-doing. I wish I may die this minute if I did. It was all on account of the whiskey and the excitement, I reckon. I never used a weepon in my life before, Joe. I've fought, but never with weepons. They'll all say that. Joe, don't tell! Say you won't tell, Joe—that's a good feller. I always liked you, Joe, and stood up for you, too. Don't you remember? You WON'T tell, WILL you, Joe?" And the poor creature dropped on his knees before the stolid murderer, and clasped his appealing hands.

"No, you've always been fair and square with me, Muff Potter, and I won't go back on you. There, now, that's as fair as a man can say."

"Oh, Joe, you're an angel. I'll bless you for this the longest day I live." And Potter began to cry.

"Come, now, that's enough of that. This ain't any time for blubbering. You be off yonder way and I'll go this. Move, now, and don't leave any tracks behind you."

Potter started on a trot that quickly increased to a run. The half-breed stood looking after him. He muttered:

"If he's as much stunned with the lick and fuddled with the rum as he had the look of being, he won't think of the knife till he's gone so far he'll be afraid to come back after it to such a place by himself—chicken-heart!"

Two or three minutes later the murdered man, the blanketed corpse, the lidless coffin, and the open grave were under no inspection but the moon's. The stillness was complete again, too.

 

 

CHAPTER X

THE two boys flew on and on, toward the village, speechless with horror. They glanced backward over their shoulders from time to time, apprehensively, as if they feared they might be followed. Every stump that started up in their path seemed a man and an enemy, and made them catch their breath; and as they sped by some outlying cottages that lay near the village, the barking of the aroused watch-dogs seemed to give wings to their feet.

"If we can only get to the old tannery before we break down!" whispered Tom, in short catches between breaths. "I can't stand it much longer."

Huckleberry's hard pantings were his only reply, and the boys fixed their eyes on the goal of their hopes and bent to their work to win it. They gained steadily on it, and at last, breast to breast, they burst through the open door and fell grateful and exhausted in the sheltering shadows beyond. By and by their pulses slowed down, and Tom whispered:

"Huckleberry, what do you reckon'll come of this?"

"If Doctor Robinson dies, I reckon hanging'll come of it."

"Do you though?"

"Why, I KNOW it, Tom."

Tom thought a while, then he said:

"Who'll tell? We?"

"What are you talking about? S'pose something happened and Injun Joe DIDN'T hang? Why, he'd kill us some time or other, just as dead sure as we're a laying here."

"That's just what I was thinking to myself, Huck."

"If anybody tells, let Muff Potter do it, if he's fool enough. He's generally drunk enough."

Tom said nothing—went on thinking. Presently he whispered:

"Huck, Muff Potter don't know it. How can he tell?"

"What's the reason he don't know it?"

"Because he'd just got that whack when Injun Joe done it. D'you reckon he could see anything? D'you reckon he knowed anything?"

"By hokey, that's so, Tom!"

"And besides, look-a-here—maybe that whack done for HIM!"

"No, 'taint likely, Tom. He had liquor in him; I could see that; and besides, he always has. Well, when pap's full, you might take and belt him over the head with a church and you couldn't phase him. He says so, his own self. So it's the same with Muff Potter, of course. But if a man was dead sober, I reckon maybe that whack might fetch him; I dono."

After another reflective silence, Tom said:

"Hucky, you sure you can keep mum?"

"Tom, we GOT to keep mum. You know that. That Injun devil wouldn't make any more of drownding us than a couple of cats, if we was to squeak 'bout this and they didn't hang him. Now, look-a-here, Tom, less take and swear to one another—that's what we got to do—swear to keep mum."

"I'm agreed. It's the best thing. Would you just hold hands and swear that we—"

"Oh no, that wouldn't do for this. That's good enough for little rubbishy common things—specially with gals, cuz THEY go back on you anyway, and blab if they get in a huff—but there orter be writing 'bout a big thing like this. And blood."

Tom's whole being applauded this idea. It was deep, and dark, and awful; the hour, the circumstances, the surroundings, were in keeping with it. He picked up a clean pine shingle that lay in the moon-light, took a little fragment of "red keel" out of his pocket, got the moon on his work, and painfully scrawled these lines, emphasizing each slow down-stroke by clamping his tongue between his teeth, and letting up the pressure on the up-strokes. [See next page.]

"Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer swears they will keep mum about This and They wish They may Drop down dead in Their Tracks if They ever Tell and Rot."

Huckleberry was filled with admiration of Tom's facility in writing, and the sublimity of his language. He at once took a pin from his lapel and was going to prick his flesh, but Tom said:

"Hold on! Don't do that. A pin's brass. It might have verdigrease on it."

"What's verdigrease?"

"It's p'ison. That's what it is. You just swaller some of it once—you'll see."

So Tom unwound the thread from one of his needles, and each boy pricked the ball of his thumb and squeezed out a drop of blood. In time, after many squeezes, Tom managed to sign his initials, using the ball of his little finger for a pen. Then he showed Huckleberry how to make an H and an F, and the oath was complete. They buried the shingle close to the wall, with some dismal ceremonies and incantations, and the fetters that bound their tongues were considered to be locked and the key thrown away.

A figure crept stealthily through a break in the other end of the ruined building, now, but they did not notice it.

"Tom," whispered Huckleberry, "does this keep us from EVER telling—ALWAYS?"

"Of course it does. It don't make any difference WHAT happens, we got to keep mum. We'd drop down dead—don't YOU know that?"

"Yes, I reckon that's so."

They continued to whisper for some little time. Presently a dog set up a long, lugubrious howl just outside—within ten feet of them. The boys clasped each other suddenly, in an agony of fright.

"Which of us does he mean?" gasped Huckleberry.

"I dono—peep through the crack. Quick!"

"No, YOU, Tom!"

"I can't—I can't DO it, Huck!"

"Please, Tom. There 'tis again!"

"Oh, lordy, I'm thankful!" whispered Tom. "I know his voice. It's Bull Harbison." *

[* If Mr. Harbison owned a slave named Bull, Tom would have spoken of him as "Harbison's Bull," but a son or a dog of that name was "Bull Harbison."]

"Oh, that's good—I tell you, Tom, I was most scared to death; I'd a bet anything it was a STRAY dog."

The dog howled again. The boys' hearts sank once more.

"Oh, my! that ain't no Bull Harbison!" whispered Huckleberry. "DO, Tom!"

Tom, quaking with fear, yielded, and put his eye to the crack. His whisper was hardly audible when he said:

"Oh, Huck, IT S A STRAY DOG!"

"Quick, Tom, quick! Who does he mean?"

"Huck, he must mean us both—we're right together."

"Oh, Tom, I reckon we're goners. I reckon there ain't no mistake 'bout where I'LL go to. I been so wicked."

"Dad fetch it! This comes of playing hookey and doing everything a feller's told NOT to do. I might a been good, like Sid, if I'd a tried—but no, I wouldn't, of course. But if ever I get off this time, I lay I'll just WALLER in Sunday-schools!" And Tom began to snuffle a little.

"YOU bad!" and Huckleberry began to snuffle too. "Consound it, Tom Sawyer, you're just old pie, 'long-side o' what I am. Oh, LORDY, lordy, lordy, I wisht I only had half your chance."

Tom choked off and whispered:

"Look, Hucky, look! He's got his BACK to us!"

Hucky looked, with joy in his heart.

"Well, he has, by jingoes! Did he before?"

"Yes, he did. But I, like a fool, never thought. Oh, this is bully, you know. NOW who can he mean?"

The howling stopped. Tom pricked up his ears.

"Sh! What's that?" he whispered.

"Sounds like—like hogs grunting. No—it's somebody snoring, Tom."

"That IS it! Where 'bouts is it, Huck?"

"I bleeve it's down at 'tother end. Sounds so, anyway. Pap used to sleep there, sometimes, 'long with the hogs, but laws bless you, he just lifts things when HE snores. Besides, I reckon he ain't ever coming back to this town any more."

The spirit of adventure rose in the boys' souls once more.

"Hucky, do you das't to go if I lead?"

"I don't like to, much. Tom, s'pose it's Injun Joe!"

Tom quailed. But presently the temptation rose up strong again and the boys agreed to try, with the understanding that they would take to their heels if the snoring stopped. So they went tiptoeing stealthily down, the one behind the other. When they had got to within five steps of the snorer, Tom stepped on a stick, and it broke with a sharp snap. The man moaned, writhed a little, and his face came into the moonlight. It was Muff Potter. The boys' hearts had stood still, and their hopes too, when the man moved, but their fears passed away now. They tip-toed out, through the broken weather-boarding, and stopped at a little distance to exchange a parting word. That long, lugubrious 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 FACING Potter, with his nose pointing heavenward.

"Oh, geeminy, it's HIM!" exclaimed both boys, in a breath.

"Say, Tom—they say a stray dog come howling around Johnny Miller's house, 'bout midnight, as much as two weeks ago; and a whippoorwill come in and lit on the banisters and sung, the very same evening; and there ain't anybody dead there yet."

"Well, I know that. And suppose there ain't. Didn't Gracie Miller fall in the kitchen fire and burn herself terrible the very next Saturday?"

"Yes, but she ain't DEAD. And what's more, she's getting better, too."

"All right, you wait and see. She's a goner, just as dead sure as Muff Potter's a goner. That's what the niggers say, and they know all about these kind of things, Huck."

Then they separated, cogitating. When Tom crept in at his bedroom window the night was almost spent. He undressed with excessive caution, and fell asleep congratulating himself that nobody knew of his escapade. He was not aware that the gently-snoring Sid was awake, and had been so for an hour.

When Tom awoke, Sid was dressed and gone. There was a late look in the light, a late sense in the atmosphere. He was startled. Why had he not been called—persecuted till he was up, as usual? The thought filled him with bodings. Within five minutes he was dressed and down-stairs, feeling sore and drowsy. The family were still at table, but they had finished breakfast. There was no voice of rebuke; but there were averted eyes; there was a silence and an air of solemnity that struck a chill to the culprit's heart. He sat down and tried to seem gay, but it was up-hill work; it roused no smile, no response, and he lapsed into silence and let his heart sink down to the depths.

After breakfast his aunt took him aside, and Tom almost brightened in the hope that he was going to be flogged; but it was not so. His aunt wept over him and asked him how he could go and break her old heart so; and finally told him to go on, and ruin himself and bring her gray hairs with sorrow to the grave, for it was no use for her to try any more. This was worse than a thousand whippings, and Tom's heart was sorer now than his body. He cried, he pleaded for forgiveness, promised to reform over and over again, and then received his dismissal, feeling that he had won but an imperfect forgiveness and established but a feeble confidence.

He left the presence too miserable to even feel revengeful toward Sid; and so the latter's prompt retreat through the back gate was unnecessary. He moped to school gloomy and sad, and took his flogging, along with Joe Harper, for playing hookey the day before, with the air of one whose heart was busy with heavier woes and wholly dead to trifles. Then he betook himself to his seat, rested his elbows on his desk and his jaws in his hands, and stared at the wall with the stony stare of suffering that has reached the limit and can no further go. His elbow was pressing against some hard substance. After a long time he slowly and sadly changed his position, and took up this object with a sigh. It was in a paper. He unrolled it. A long, lingering, colossal sigh followed, and his heart broke. It was his brass andiron knob!

This final feather broke the camel's back.

 

 

第一章 

“汤姆!”

没人答应。

“汤姆!”

又没人答应。

“这孩子到底怎么啦,我真搞不懂?你这个汤姆!”

还是没有人答应。

这老太太拉低眼镜从镜片上方朝房间看了看,然后她又抬高眼镜从镜片下面看。她很少或者干脆说她从来没戴正眼镜来找像一个小男孩这样小的东西。这副眼镜是很考究的,也是她的骄傲,她配这副眼镜不是为了实用,而是为了“装饰”,为了“漂亮”。她看东西时,即使戴上两片炉子盖也照样看得一清二楚。她茫然不知所措地愣了一会儿。然后虽然不是凶神恶煞般,但嗓门高得让每个角落都能听到,她说:

“好,我发誓如果我抓住你,我就——”

她话没有说完,因为这时她正弯腰用扫把往床下猛捣,每捣一下,她需要停下来换口气。结果,只捣出来一只猫。

“我还从没有见过这么令人吃惊的孩子!”

她走到敞开的门口,站在那里朝满园子的西红柿藤和吉普逊草丛中看,想找到汤姆,可还是没有。于是她亮开嗓子朝远处,高声喊到:

“汤姆呀,汤姆!”

这时在她身后传来一声轻微的响声,她转身一把抓住了一个小男孩的短外套的衣角,他想跑都跑不掉了。

“嘿!我早该想到那个壁橱,你躲在那里干什么?”

“没干什么。”

“没干什么?!瞧你那双手,再看你那张嘴,还有那浑身是什么?”

“我不知道,姨妈。”

“哎,我知道,那是蜜饯——对,就是。我已跟你讲过有四十遍了,不要动我的蜜饯,否则我就扒你的皮。把鞭子递给我。”

鞭子在空中晃悠——情况万分紧急。

“不得了!瞧你身后是什么,姨妈!”

老太太以为有危险,急忙撩起裙子,转过身去。汤姆拨腿就逃,顷刻他爬过高高的木栅栏,一转眼就消失得无影无踪。

他的波莉姨妈站在那儿先是一愣,随后突然轻声笑了起来。

“这个该死的,我怎么老是不吸取教训?和我开这样的玩笑,也不知开过多少次了。难道我不该有所提防吗?人老了,糊涂才是最大的糊涂蛋。俗话说得好,老狗学不会新把戏。可是天啦!他耍的鬼把戏里从来没有两天一样的,谁能猜出下个鬼主意是什么?他似乎知道,他能折磨我多长时间,我才会动肝火,而且他也知道他只要想个法哄哄我,惹我大笑一场,就会万事皆休,我也不会揍他一顿。我对他是敢怒不能揍。我对那孩子没尽到责任,上帝知道那是真的。《圣经》里说:‘孩子不打不成器。’我太溺爱那孩子,我也知道这对我俩都不好。他一肚鬼点子。哎呀,但他是我那死去的亲姐姐的儿子,可怜的孩子,我怎么也不忍心揍他。每一次饶了他,我良心都受谴责;可是每一回打他,我都有点心痛不忍。哎,哎,就像《圣经》所说的,人为母生,光阴荏苒,充满苦难。我看这话说得一点都不错。今天下午他要是逃学,明天我就想法让他干点活,惩罚惩罚他。星期六让他干活,恐怕苛刻了点,因为所有的孩子都放了假,他又恨透了干活,比恨什么都厉害。可是我不得不对他尽到我的责任,否则我会把这个孩子给毁了。”

汤姆真的没去上课,而且痛痛快快地玩了一场。他回家时正好赶上帮那小黑孩吉姆的忙,帮他在晚饭前锯第二天用的木头,劈引火用的柴——至少他及时赶到那儿,把他所干的事讲给吉姆听,而活却是吉姆干了四分之三。汤姆的弟弟(确切地说是同母异父的弟弟)希德已干完了他那份活(捡碎木块),因为他是个不声不响的孩子,从不干什么冒险的事,也不惹什么麻烦。

汤姆吃晚饭的时候,总是瞅机会偷糖吃,波莉姨妈这时开始问他,话里充满了诡计,而且非常巧妙——因为她要设点圈套,套他说出实话来。跟其他许多头脑简单的人一样,她很自负,并且相信自己很有点子,会耍弄诡秘狡猾的手腕,把自己极易被人识破的诡计当作最高明的计策,她说:

“汤姆,学校里挺热的,对吧?”

“是的,姨妈。”

“热的厉害,对不对?”

“对,姨妈。”

“你是不是想去游泳来着,汤姆。”

汤姆忽然感到有点慌张——一丝不安和疑惑掠过心头。他偷眼察看波莉姨妈的脸色,可什么也没有看出来。于是他说:

“没有啊,姨妈——呃,没怎么想去。”

老太太伸出手摸摸汤姆的衬衣,说道:

“可是你现在却并不怎么热,是吧!”她已发现衬衣是干的,却没有人知道她内心的真正用意,为此她感到很得意。而汤姆猜透了她的心思,所以他为防老太太的下一招来了个先发制人。

“有的人往大家头上打水——你瞧,我的头发还是湿的呢!”

波莉姨妈很懊恼,她居然没注意到这个明摆着的事实,以致错过了一次机会。可接着她灵机一动,计上心来:

“汤姆,你往头上浇水的时候,不必拆掉我给你衬衫上缝的领子吧?把上衣的纽扣解开!”

汤姆脸上的不安马上就消失了。他解开上衣,衬衣的领子还是缝的好好的。

“真是怪事。得,算了吧!我看你旷课去游泳了!我认为你就像俗话里说的烧焦毛的猫一样——并不像表面看起来的那样坏。就这一次,下不为例。”

她一面为自己的计谋落空而难过,一面又为汤姆这一次竟能如此温顺听话而高兴。

可是希德却说:

“哼,我记得你好像给他缝领子用的是白线,可现在却是黑线。”

“嘿,我的确用白线缝的!汤姆!”

可汤姆没等听完话就走了。他走出门口的时候说:

“希德,为这我可要狠狠揍你一顿。”

在一个安全的地方,汤姆仔细检查了别在上衣翻领上的两根大针,针上还穿着线,一根绕着白线,另一根绕着黑线。

他说:

“如果不是希德,她是永远不会注意到的。真讨厌!有时她用白线缝,有时又用黑线。我真希望她总是用一种线——换来换去我实在记不住。不过,我发誓非揍希德一顿不可,我要好好教训教训他。”

汤姆不是村里的模范男孩,但他对那位模范男孩非常熟悉,并且很讨厌他。

不到两分钟,甚至更短,他已将全部烦恼给忘记了。就像大人们的烦恼也是烦恼一样,他忘记烦恼并不是因为他的烦恼对他不怎么沉重和难受,而是因为一种新的、更强烈的兴趣暂时压倒并驱散了他心中的烦闷——就像大人们在新奇感受的兴奋之时,也会暂时忘却自己的不幸一样。这种新产生的兴趣就是一种新的吹口哨方法,它很有价值,是刚从一个黑人那学到的,现在他正要一心练习练习又不想被别人打扰。这声音很特别,像小鸟的叫声,一种流畅而委婉的音调。在吹这个调子的时候,舌头断断续续地抵住口腔的上腭——读者若曾经也是孩子的话,也许还记得该怎样吹这种口哨。汤姆学得很勤奋,练得很专心,很快就掌握了其中要领。于是他沿街大步流星地走着,口中吹着口哨,心里乐滋滋的,那股乐劲如同天文学家发现了新行星时一般,仅就乐的程度之深之强烈而言,此时的汤姆绝对比天文学家还要兴奋。

夏天的下午很长,这时天还没有黑。汤姆的口哨声忽然停住了,因为在他面前出现了一个陌生人——一个比他大一点的男孩。

在圣彼德堡这个贫穷、破落的小村子里,不管是男的还是女的,老的还是少的,只要是新来的,就能引起人们的好奇心。而且这个男孩穿得非常讲究——在平常工作日竟穿戴如此整齐,仅这就让汤姆对他刮目相看。他的帽子很精致,蓝色的上衣扣得紧紧的,又新又整洁,他的裤子也是一样。他竟然还穿着鞋——要知道,今天可是星期五!他甚至还打了条领带,那是条颜色鲜亮的丝质领带。他摆出一副城里人的架势,汤姆对此感到很不自在。汤姆眼盯着他那套漂亮的衣服,鼻子翘得高高的。可是他越看越是觉得自己身上的衣服很寒酸破旧。两个人都一声不吭。一个挪动一步,另一个也挪一步——可都是斜着步子兜圈子。他俩面对面,眼对眼这样相持了很长时间,最后还是汤姆先开了腔:

“我能打得过你!”

“我倒想见识见识。”

“那好,我就打给你看。”

“得了,你不行。”

“我行。”

“你就是不行。”

“我就是行。”

“不行!”

“行!”

“不行!”

两个人都不自在地停了下来。接着汤姆问道:

“你叫什么名字?”

“这也许你管不着!”

“哼,我就管得着!”

“好,那你就管管看。”

“要是你再啰嗦,我就管给你看。”

“啰嗦——啰嗦——偏要啰嗦,看你能怎么样?”

“哎,你认为你自己很了不起,是不是?如果我想打倒你的话,一只手背在后面都能打过你。”

“好啊,你说你能打过我,那你为什么不动手啊?”

“如果你老是嘴硬的话,我就打给你看。”

“嘿——你这种人我见得多了,尽吹大话下不了台!”

“哈!你自以为是个人物呢!瞧,你那帽子!”

“你要是看不顺眼你就把它摘下来呀,如果你敢碰,我就揍扁你!”

“你吹牛。”

“你也是吹牛。”

“你光是讲大话,不敢动手。”

“噢,滚你的蛋吧!”

“告诉你——要是你再骂我的话,我就用石头砸碎你的脑袋。”

“那好,你就来砸啊!”

“我肯定会的。”

“那你为什么不来试试?你老是吹牛不敢动手,哦,我知道你害怕了。”

“我才不怕呢!”

“你怕!”

“我不怕!”

“你就是怕!”

两个人暂停了一会儿,接着又眼对眼,身子侧身子兜着圈子走了几步。忽然两个人肩抵着肩。汤姆说:

“你从这滚吧!”

“你自己滚吧!”

“我不滚。”

“我也不滚。”

于是他俩站在那儿,双方都斜着一只脚撑着劲,用尽力气想把对手往后推,两个人都愤恨地瞪着对方。可是谁都没占优势。他们直斗得浑身燥热,满脸通红,然后两人稍稍放松,却都小心谨慎地提防着对方。这时,汤姆又说:“你是个胆小鬼,是个狗崽子。我要向我大哥哥告你的状,他只要动动小指头就能把你捏碎,我会让他揍你的。”

“我可不怕你什么大哥哥,我有一个比你大哥还大的大哥哥——而且我大哥哥能把你的大哥哥从那堵篱笆围墙扔过去。”

(两个人的所谓的大哥哥都是虚构的。)

“你撒谎。”

“你讲的也不是真的。”

汤姆用大脚趾头在地上的灰土上划了一道线,说:

“你若敢跨过这道线,我就把你打趴在地上,让你站不起来。谁敢,谁就得吃不了兜着走。”

这个新来的男孩毫不犹豫地跨过那道线,说:

“你说你敢打我,现在来看看你怎么打法。”

“你不要逼我!你最好还是当心点。”

“哎,你不是说要打我吗?——你为什么不动手啊?”

“得了,你要是肯给我两个分币,我就动手。”

新来的男孩果真从衣服口袋里掏出两个分币,嘲弄地摊开手掌。汤姆一把将钱打翻在地。立刻两个人像两只争食的猫一样,在地上的尘土里滚打,撕扯起来,紧接着又是扯头发,又是揪衣领,拼命地捶打对方的鼻子,抓对方的脸。两个人都弄得浑身是土,却又都威风凛凛。最后谁胜谁败逐渐见了分晓,汤姆从尘土中爬起来,骑在那个男孩的身上,攥紧拳头使劲地打那个男孩。

“挨够了吗?求饶吧!”他说。

那个男孩只想挣脱出来。他气得嚎啕大哭。

汤姆还在不停地捶打,说:“求饶吧!”

那男孩只好挤出几个字:“饶了我!”

汤姆让他站起来,对他说:

“现在你知道我的厉害了吧!以后最好给我小心点,看看在跟谁嘴硬。”

这位新来的男孩拍拍身上的尘土,哭哭啼啼地走开了。他不时地回过头来,摇晃着脑袋,吓唬汤姆:

“下次要是抓住你,我就,我就……”

汤姆对此不屑一顾,趾高气扬地走开了。他的背刚一转过来,那男孩子就抓起一块石头朝他砸过来,正打在汤姆的背上,接着就夹着尾巴,像羚羊似的飞快地跑掉了。汤姆穷追不舍,直追到他家。他就站在人家大门口,嚷着叫那男孩出来较量,可是那个对手只是在窗子里朝他挤鼻子弄眼,拒不迎战。最后那对手的妈妈出来了,咒骂汤姆是个邪恶下流、没有家教的坏孩子,喝斥他赶快滚开。于是汤姆就走了,不过,他临走时说还要寻机再教训教训那混小子一顿。

那天晚上,他回到家时已经很迟了。当他小心翼翼地从窗户往里爬时,猛然间发现了有人埋伏,仔细一看,原来是他的波莉姨妈。她看到他衣服被弄成那副样子,原来就打算让汤姆在星期六休息日干活的决心现在就更加坚定了。

 

 

第二章 

星期六的早晨到了,夏天的世界,阳光明媚,空气新鲜,充满了生机。每个人的心中都荡漾着一首歌,有些年轻人情不自禁地唱出了这首歌。每个人脸上都洋溢着欢乐,每个人的脚步都是那么轻盈。洋槐树正开着花,空气里弥漫着芬芳的花香。村庄外面高高的卡第夫山上覆盖着绿色的植被,这山离村子不远不近,就像一块“乐土”,宁静安详,充满梦幻,令人向往。

汤姆出现在人行道上,一只手拎着一桶灰浆,另一只手拿着一把长柄刷子。他环顾栅栏,所有的快乐,立刻烟消云散,心中充满了惆怅。栅栏可是三十码长,九英尺高啊。生活对他来说太乏味空洞了,活着仅是一种负担。他叹了一口气,用刷子蘸上灰浆,沿着最顶上一层木板刷起来。接着又刷了一下,二下。看看刚刷过的不起眼的那块,再和那远不着边际的栅栏相比,汤姆灰心丧气地在一块木箱子上坐下来。这时,吉姆手里提着一个锡皮桶,嘴中唱着“布法罗的女娃们”蹦蹦跳跳地从大门口跑出来。在汤姆眼中,到镇上从抽水机里拎水,一向是件令人厌烦的差事,现在他可不这样看了。他记得在那里有很多伴儿。有白人孩子,黑人孩子,还有混血孩子,男男女女都在那排队等着提水。大家在那儿休息,交换各自玩的东西,吵吵闹闹,争斗嬉戏。而且他还记得尽管他们家离拎水处只有一百五十码左右,可是吉姆从没有在一个小时里拎回一桶水来——有时甚至还得别人去催才行。汤姆说:

“喂,吉姆,如果你来刷点墙,我就去提水。”

吉姆摇摇头,说:

“不行,汤姆少爷。老太太,她叫我去提水,不准在路上停下来和人家玩。她说她猜到汤姆少爷你会让我刷墙,所以她吩咐我只管干自己的活,莫管他人闲事——她说她要亲自来看看你刷墙。”

“咳,吉姆,你别管她对你说的那一套。她总是这样说的。

把水桶给我——我很快就回来。她不会知道的。”

“哦,不,我可不敢,汤姆少爷。老太太她会把我的头给拧下来的,她真的会的!”

“她吗?她从来没揍过任何人——她不过是用顶针在头上敲敲罢了——谁还在乎这个,我倒是想问问你。她不过是嘴上说得凶,可是说说又伤害不了你——只要她不大叫大嚷就没事。吉姆,我给你一个好玩意,给你一个白石头子儿!”

吉姆开始动摇了。

“白石头子,吉姆!这可是真正好玩的石头子啊。”

“嘿,老实说,那是个挺不错的好玩意。可是汤姆少爷,我害怕老太太……”

“还有,吉姆,只要你答应了的话,我还给你看我那只脚趾头,那只肿痛的脚趾头。”

吉姆到底是个凡人,不是神仙——这诱惑对他太大了。他放下水桶,接过白石头子儿,还饶有兴趣地弯着腰看汤姆解开缠在脚上的布带子,看那只肿痛的脚趾。可是,一会儿之后,吉姆的屁股直痛,拎着水桶飞快地沿着街道跑掉了;汤姆继续用劲地刷墙,因为波莉姨妈此时从田地干活回来了。她手里提着一只拖鞋,眼里流露出满意的神色。

不过,汤姆这股劲没持续多久。他开始想起原先为这个休息日所作的一些玩耍的安排,心里越想越不是滋味。再过一会儿,那些自由自在的孩子们就会蹦跳着跑过来,做各种各样开心好玩的游戏,他们看到他不得不刷墙干活,会大肆嘲笑挖苦他的——一想到这,汤姆心里就像火烧似的难受。他拿出他全部的家当宝贝,仔细地看了一阵——有残缺不全的玩具、一些石头子、还有一些没有什么用处的东西。这些玩意足够用来换取别的孩子为自己干活,不过,要想换来半个小时的绝对自由,也许还差得远呢。于是他又把这几件可怜的宝贝玩意装进口袋,打消了用这些来收买那些男孩子的念头。正在这灰心绝望的时刻,他忽然灵机一动,计上心来。这主意实在是聪明绝伦,妙不可言。

他拿起刷子,一声不响地干了起来。不一会儿,本·罗杰斯出现了——在所有的孩子们当中,正是这个男孩叫汤姆最害怕。汤姆最怕他的讥讽。本走路好像是做三级跳——这证明他此时的心情轻松愉快,而且还打算干点痛快高兴的事。他正在吃苹果,不时地发出长长的、好听的“呜——”的叫声,隔会儿还“叮当当、叮当当”地学铃声响,他这是在扮演一只蒸汽轮船。他越来越近,于是他减慢速度,走到街中心,身体倾向右舷,吃力、做作地转了船头使船逆风停下——他在扮演“大密苏里号”,好像已吃水九英尺深。他既当船,又当船长还要当轮机铃。因此他就想象着自己站在轮船的顶层甲板上发着命令,同时还执行着这些命令。

“停船,伙计!叮——啊铃!”船几乎停稳了,然后他又慢慢地向人行道靠过来。

“调转船头!叮——啊铃——铃!”他两臂伸直,用力往两边垂着。

“右舷后退,叮——啊铃——铃!嚓呜——嚓——嚓呜!嚓呜!”

他一边喊着,一边用手比划着画个大圈——这代表着一个四十英尺大转轮。

“左舷后退!叮——啊铃——铃!嚓呜——嚓——嚓呜——嚓呜!”左手开始画圈。

“右舷停!叮——啊铃——铃!左舷停!右舷前进!停!外面慢慢转过来!叮——啊铃——铃!嚓——呜——呜!把船头的绳索拿过来!快点!喂——再把船边的绳索递过来——你在发什么呆!把绳头靠船桩绕住好,就这么拉紧——放手吧!发动机停住,伙计!叮——啊铃——铃!希特——希特——希特!”(摹仿着汽门排气的声音。)

汤姆继续刷栅栏,——不去理睬那只蒸汽轮船,本瞪着眼睛看了一会儿,说:

“哎呀,你日子好过了,是不是?”

汤姆没有回答。只是用艺术家的眼光审视他最后刷的那一块,接着轻轻地刷了一下。又像刚才那样打量着栅栏。本走过来站在他身旁。看见那苹果,汤姆馋得直流口水,可是他还是继续刷他的墙。本说:

“嘿,老伙计,你还得干活呀,咦?”

汤姆猛然地转过身来说道:“咳!是你呀,本。我还没注意到你呢。”

“哈,告诉你吧,我可是要去游泳了。难道你不想去吗?当然啦,你宁愿在这干活,对不对?当然你情愿!”

汤姆打量了一下那男孩,说:

“你说什么?这叫干活?”

“这还不叫干活,叫干什么?”

汤姆重新又开始刷墙,漫不经心地说:“这也许是干活,也许不是。我只知道这对汤姆·索亚来说倒是很得劲。”

“哦,得了吧!难道你的意思是说你喜欢干这事?”

刷子还在不停地刷着。

“喜欢干?哎,我真搞不懂为什么我要不喜欢干,哪个男孩子能天天有机会刷墙?”

这倒是件新鲜事。于是,本停止了啃苹果。汤姆灵巧地用刷子来回刷着——不时地停下来退后几步看看效果——在这补一刷,在那补一刷——然后再打量一下效果——本仔细地观看着汤姆的一举一动,越看越有兴趣,越看越被吸引住了。后来他说:

“喂,汤姆,让我来刷点儿看看。”

汤姆想了一下,正打算答应他;可是他立刻又改变了主意:

“不——不行,本——我想这恐怕不行。要知道,波莉姨妈对这面墙是很讲究的——这可是当街的一面呀——不过要是后面的,你刷刷倒也无妨,姨妈也不会在乎的。是呀,她对这道墙是非常讲究的。刷这墙一定得非常精心。我想在一千,也许在两千个孩子里,也找不出一个能按波莉姨妈的要求刷好这道墙的。”“哦,是吗?哎,就让我试一试吧。我只刷一点儿——汤姆,如果我是你的话,我会让你试试的。”

“本,我倒是愿意,说真的。可是,波莉姨妈——唉,吉姆想刷,可她不叫他刷,希德也想干,她也不让希德干。现在,你知道我该有多么为难?要是你来摆弄这墙,万一出了什么毛病……”

“啊,没事,我会小心仔细的。还是让我来试试吧。嘿——我把苹果核给你。”

“唉,那就……不行,本,算了吧。我就怕……。”

“我把这苹果全给你!”

汤姆把刷子让给本,脸上显示出不情愿,可心里却美滋滋的。

当刚才那只“大密苏里号”在阳光下干活,累得大汗淋漓的时候,这位离了职的艺术家却在附近的阴凉下,坐在一只木桶上,跷着二郎腿,一边大口大口地吃着苹果,一边暗暗盘算如何再宰更多的傻瓜。这样的小傻瓜会有许多。每过一会儿,就有些男孩子从这经过;起先他们都想来开开玩笑,可是结果都被留下来刷墙。在本累得精疲力尽时,汤姆早已经和比利·费施做好了交易。比利用一个修得很好的风筝换来接替本的机会。等到比利也玩得差不多的时候,詹尼·米勒用一只死老鼠和拴着它的小绳子购买了这个特权——一个又一个的傻小子受骗上了当,接连几个钟头都没有间断。下午快过了一半的时候,汤姆早上还是个贫困潦倒的穷小子,现在一下子就变成了腰包鼓鼓的阔佬了。除了以上提到的那些玩意以外,还有十二颗石头子;一只破口琴;一块可以透视的蓝玻璃片;一门线轴做的大炮;一把什么锁也不开的钥匙;一截粉笔;一个大酒瓶塞子;一个锡皮做的小兵;一对蝌蚪;六个鞭炮;一只独眼小猫;一个门上的铜把手;一根拴狗的颈圈——却没有狗——一个刀把;四片桔子皮;还有一个破旧的窗框。

他一直过得舒舒服服,悠闲自在——同伴很多——而且墙整整被刷了三遍。要不是他的灰浆用光了的话,他会让村里的每个孩子都掏空腰包破产的。

汤姆自言自语道,这世界原来并不是那么空洞乏味啊。他已经不知不觉地发现了人类行为的一大法则——那就是为了让一个大人或一个小孩渴望干什么事,只需设法将这事变得难以到手就行了。如果他是位伟大而明智的哲学家,就像这本书的作者,他就会懂得所谓“工作”就是一个人被迫要干的事情,至于“玩”就是一个人没有义务要干的事。这个道理使他明白了为什么做假花和蹬车轮就算是工作,而玩十柱戏和爬勃朗峰就算是娱乐。英国有钱的绅士在夏季每天驾着四轮马拉客车沿着同样的路线走上二三十里,他们为这种特权竟花了很多钱。可是如果因此付钱给他们的话,那就把这桩事情变成了工作,他们就会撒手不干了。

汤姆思考了一会那天发生在他身边的实质性变化,然后就到司令部报告去了。

 

 

第三章 

汤姆来到波莉姨妈面前,她正坐在宽敞舒适的后面房间的一个敞开的窗户旁边。这间房既是卧室、餐厅,又是图书馆。夏日芳香的空气,令人困倦的幽静,醉人的花香,还有催你入眠的嗡嗡的蜜蜂叫声,都已产生了效应,她拿着针织物在那儿打盹——因为除了只猫没有伴儿,而那猫又在她膝上睡着了。为了不打碎眼镜,她把它架在灰白的头顶上。她原以为汤姆早就溜去玩了,现在见他居然听了她的话,毫不害怕地站在她面前,不免有些诧异。他问:

“我现在可以去玩了吗?姨妈。”

“怎么,想去玩了?你刷了多少了?”

“姨妈,都刷好了。”

“汤姆,不要再跟我撒谎了——我受不了。”

“没有啊,姨妈,墙的确刷好了。”

波莉姨妈对他的话不太相信。她要亲自去看一看。只要汤姆讲的话有百分之二十是真的,她也就心满意足了。当她发现整个墙都已刷过了,不仅刷了而且是刷了一遍又一遍,甚至连地上还抹了一块,她惊讶得无法形容。她说:

“哎,真是怪事!简直叫人不可思议!汤姆,只要你想干的时候,你是挺能干的。”然后又补了一句,这一句可冲淡了刚才的表扬。“我不得不说,你想干的时候实在是太少了。好了,去玩吧,不过,别忘了到了该回来时就得回家,否则我会捶你一顿。”

她为汤姆所取得的成绩而喜出望外,于是,她把他领到贮藏室,选了一个又大又好的苹果递给了他。同时还教导他,如果别人对自己的款待是靠自己努力得来的,而不是靠什么不道德的手段谋取的,那就格外有价值,有意味。在她背了《圣经》中的一句妙语格言作结束语时,汤姆顺手牵羊偷了一块油炸面圈。

然后,他就一蹦一跳地跑出来,正好看见希德在爬通向二楼后面房间的楼梯。地上的泥块顺手可得,于是汤姆捡起泥块朝希德扔过去。这些土块像冰雹似的,在希德周围满天飞舞。波莉姨妈还没有来得及静一静她那吃惊的神经,赶紧跑过来解围,这时候,已经有六七块泥土打中了希德,而汤姆早已翻过栅栏逃之夭夭。栅栏上有大门,可是像平常一样汤姆急着要出去,没有时间从门那里走。希德让波莉姨妈注意到他的黑线,让他吃了苦头,受了罚,现在他已经对希德出了气,摆平了这件事,因此他心里觉得好受多了。

汤姆绕过那一排房子,来到靠着他姨妈牛圈后面的一条泥泞巷子里。他很快就完全地溜到抓不到也罚不着他的地方,匆忙赶到村里那块公共场地。在那里,两支由孩子们组成的“军队”按事先的约定已集合起来,准备打仗。汤姆是其中一支部队的将军,他的知心好友乔·哈帕则是另一支队伍的统帅,这两位总指挥不屑于亲自战斗——那更适合手下的军官战士去打——而他们却在一个凸出的高地方坐在一块,让他们的随从副官去发号施令,指挥打仗。经过一番长时间的艰苦奋战,汤姆的部队取得了辉煌的胜利。接着就是双方清点死亡人数,交换战俘,谈妥下次交战条件,还约定好作战日期。一切结束之后,双方部队先列好队形,然后开拔,而汤姆也就独自回家了。

他走过杰夫·撒切尔家住的房子的时候,看见有一个新来的女孩子站在花园里——一个漂亮可爱的蓝眼睛的小姑娘。金黄色的头发梳成两只长长的发辫,身上穿着白色的夏季上装和宽松的长裤。这位刚戴上胜利花冠的战斗英雄一枪没打就束手投降了。一个叫艾美·劳伦斯的姑娘立刻从他的心目中消失了而且不留一点痕迹,他原以为他爱她爱得发狂,而且他把自己这种爱当作深情的爱慕,不过旁人看来那不过是一种可怜渺小、变幻无常的爱恋罢了。为了获取她的欢心,他费了好几个月的工夫,可她答应他还不到一个星期。他只是在短短的七天内当了一次世界上最幸福、最自豪的男孩子。可现在片刻之间,她就像一位拜访完毕,告辞离去的稀客一般,从他心里离去了,消失了,被他忘得一干二净。

他爱慕这位新来的天使并偷眼望她,直到看到她发现他为止。然后,他装着她好像不在的样子,开始用各种各样可笑的孩子气的方法来炫耀自己,为的是赢得她的好感。他傻乎乎地耍弄一阵子,然后一面做惊险的体操动作,一面眼往旁边瞟了一下,见那小姑娘正朝房子走去。汤姆走到栅栏那儿,靠在栅栏上伤心,希望她再多留一阵子。她在台阶上稍作停留,然后又朝门口走去。当她抬脚上门槛时,汤姆长叹了一声。即刻他脸上又露出喜色,因为她在进去之前,向栅栏外面扔了一朵三色紫罗兰花。

汤姆跑过去停在离花一两英尺的地方,然后用手罩在眼睛上方朝街上看去,仿佛发现那边正发生了什么有趣的事情。随后他拎起一根草杆放在鼻子上,头尽量往后仰着,极力保持着那草杆的平衡。于是,他吃力地左右移动着身体,慢慢地侧身朝那朵三色紫罗兰挪过去。最后,他的光脚落在花上,用灵巧的脚趾头抓住了它,于是,他拿着他心爱的东西,在转弯处消失得无影无踪了。他很快就把那花别在他上衣里面贴近他心脏的地方——也许是贴近他的胃部,因为他不太懂解剖学,好在他也无所谓。

他不久又回到了老地方,在栅栏附近逛来逛去,还像原先那样耍着花样,炫耀着自己,直到天黑。虽然汤姆用一种希望安慰自己,希望她一定在窗子附近,并且已经注意到他的这番殷勤,但是,她再也没露面。后来他终于极不情愿地朝家走去,他那可怜的脑瓜子里充满了各种各样的幻想。

整个吃晚饭期间,他始终情绪高昂。他姨妈不禁感到有些纳闷:“不知这孩子怎么回事。”为了拿泥块砸希德的事,他挨了一顿臭骂,不过,对此他满不在乎。他当着姨妈的面偷糖吃,结果被她用指关节敲了一顿。他说:

“姨妈,希德拿糖吃,您怎么不打他呀。”

“噢,希德可不像你这样磨人。要不是我看得紧,你恨不得钻到糖堆里不出来。”

过了一会,她走到厨房去了;希德因为得到了特权,非常高兴,伸手去拿糖罐——这是故意对汤姆表示得意的一种举动,令汤姆非常难受。可是,希德手一滑,糖罐子掉到地上摔碎了。汤姆简直高兴得要命。但他闭着嘴,一言不发。他心里想他还是什么不说为好,就这么静静地坐着,等他姨妈进来,问这是谁闯的祸,那时他再说出来。看那个模范“宠儿”吃苦头,那真是最大快人心的事。当老太太走进来,站在那儿望着地上的破碎的罐子,从眼镜上面放射出愤怒的火花,他真是高兴到了极点,几乎按捺不住了。他暗自想:“有好戏看了!”可是想不到自己反倒被打翻在地上!那只有力的巴掌举起来正要再打他时,汤姆忍不住大声叫起来:

“住手啊,你凭什么这么狠打我?——是希德打碎了糖罐!”

波莉姨妈住了手,愣了一会儿,汤姆指望她会讲些好话哄他。可是,她开口只说了这么几句:

“唉!我觉得你挨这下子也不屈。刚才,我不在的时候,说不定你又干了些别的胆大妄为的淘气事。”

然后她就受到了良心的谴责,非常想讲几句爱抚体贴的话,可是她断定这么一来,就会被认为她是在认错,这可是规矩所不容的。于是,她一声不吭,忙这忙那,可心乱如麻。汤姆坐在角落处生着气,心里越想越难受,他知道在姨妈心里,她正向他求得谅解,也就因为有这种感觉,虽然闷闷不乐但仍感到满足。他不肯挂出求和的信号,对别的表示也不去理睬。他知道有两道渴望的目光透过泪帘不时地落在他身上,可是他偏不肯表示他已经看出来。他想象着自己躺在那儿病了,快要不行了,他姨妈俯身弯腰看着他,恳求他讲一两句饶恕她的话,可是他转过脸去冲着墙,没说原谅她就死去了。啊,那时她会觉得怎么样呢?他又想象着自己淹死了,被人从河里救起抬回家来,头上的小卷发都湿透了,他那伤透了的心得到了安息。她会多么伤心地扑到他身上,眼泪雨点般地落下来,嘴里不住地祈求上帝把她的孩子还给她,保证将永远、永远不再虐待他了!但是,他却躺在那里浑身冰凉,脸色惨白,毫无动静——一个可怜的人,一个受苦受难的人,终于结束了一切烦恼。他越想就越伤心。后来,为了嗓子不哽塞住,只好把泪水往肚子里咽。他的眼睛被泪水蒙住了,只要眼睛一眨,泪水就会淌出来,顺着鼻尖往下掉。他从这种悲伤中获得了无限的安慰和快意,所以这时如果有什么庸俗的愉快或者什么无聊的欢乐来搅乱他的心境的话,他是绝不能忍受的。因为他这种快慰非常圣洁,不该遭到玷污。所以,一会儿之后当他的表姐玛丽手舞足蹈地跑进来的时候,他马上就避开了她。她到乡下去作客,只住了一星期,仿佛时隔三秋似的,她现在又看到自己的家,真是高兴极了。但是,当她唱着歌欢快地从一扇门走进来的时候,汤姆却站起身来乘着阴云暗影从另一扇门溜出去了。

他避开平常孩子们经常玩耍出没的地方,专找适合他此时心情的僻静地方。河里的一条木筏吸引了他,于是,他就在木筏的最外边坐下来,凝视着那单调、茫茫一片的河水,同时又希望自己不经过老天安排的那番痛苦的过程,就一下子不知不觉地淹死。接着,他又想起了他的花,他把花拿出来,那花已经揉皱了,枯萎了,这更大大增加他凄凉而又幸福的情调。他不知道,要是她了解此事,她会不会同情他,她会哭吗?会希望有权抱住他的脖子安慰他吗?还是,她会不会像这个空洞乏味的世界一样,冷漠地掉头不管呢?这种想象给他带来一种苦中有甜的感受,于是,他在脑海里一遍又一遍地重复着这种幻想,反复地多角度地想象着,直到索然无味为止。最后,他终于叹息着站起来,在黑暗中离去。

大约在9点半或10点左右,他沿着那条没有行人的大街走着,来到那位他“爱慕的不知姓名的人”住的地方。他停下来,竖起耳朵听了一会儿,却什么声音都没有听到。二楼窗户的帘子上映出昏暗的烛光。那位圣洁的人儿在那儿吗?他爬过栅栏,穿过花草,悄悄地一直走到窗户下面才站住。他抬起头来,充满深情地望着窗子,看了很久。然后他在窗下仰卧在地上,双手合在胸前,捧着那朵可怜的、已经枯萎了的花。他情愿就这样死去——在这冷酷无情的世界上,当死神降临的时候,他这无家可归的人儿头上没有一丝遮盖,没有亲友的手来抹去他额上临死的汗珠,也没有慈爱的面孔贴近他来表示惋惜。就这样,当她早晨心情愉快地推开窗户,向外看时,一定会看见他的。哦!她会不会对他那可怜的、没有气息的身体落下哪怕是一小滴的泪珠呢?看见一位前途无量的年轻的生命这样无情地被摧残,这样过早地夭折,她会轻微地长叹一声吗?

窗帘卷了起来,一个女仆的说话声打破了那圣洁的寂静,随即就是一股洪水“哗”地一声泼下来,把这位躺在地上的殉情者的遗体浇得透湿!

这位被水浇得透不过气来的英雄猛地从地上爬起来,喷了喷鼻子,舒服了些。随后,只见有个什么东西混杂着一声轻轻的咒骂声,嗖地一声在空中划过,接下来就听到一阵打碎玻璃的声音,之后,就见一个小小的、模糊的人影翻过栅栏,在朦胧的夜色中箭一般地飞跑了。

不久以后,汤姆脱光衣服上床睡觉。他正借着蜡烛的光亮检查那被泼得透湿的衣服时,希德醒了。他原本有点幸灾乐祸的想法,想要“指桑骂槐”地说几句俏皮话,可是他还是改变了主意,没有出声,因为他看到汤姆眼睛里含有一股杀机。

汤姆连睡前祷告也没做就上床就睡觉了。希德在心里却记下了汤姆偷了一次懒。

 

 

第四章  

太阳升起来,照在宁静的世界上,静静的村庄仿佛沐浴在圣光之中。早饭过后,波莉姨妈做了祷告。开始的一篇祷告词完全是从《圣经》中引用来的,其中还掺杂着星星点点的新意。两者勉强地被粘合在一起,这种粘合做得就像她是从西奈山顶宣布了“摩西律”中严酷的一段。

然后,汤姆好像是振作了精神,一本正经地着手去背那一段一段的《圣经》了。希德几天前就把他该背的段落记牢了。汤姆花费了所有的精力,全力以赴在背五段《圣经》内容。他选择的是基督《登山宝训》的一部分,因为这部分是全文中最短的部分。快到半个小时的时候,他对要背的内容已有了一个模模糊糊的印象。不过,仅此而已,因为他此刻已经心不在焉,胡思乱想,两手不停地忙着一些无关紧要的东西。玛丽拿着他的书,要听他背诵,他就竭力地云来雾去地往下背:

“有福的人是……呃——呃——”

“穷乏——”

“对——穷乏;有福的人是穷人……呃——呃——”

“精神上——”

“在精神上;有福的人是精神上的贫乏者,因为他们——他们——”

“他们的——”

“因为他们的。有福的人是精神上的贫乏者,因为他们的是天国。有福的人是那些哀恸的人,因为他们——他们——”

“将——”

“因为他们……呃——”

“将——”

“因为他们将——,下面我记不得了!”

“将要——”

“欧!将要!因为他们将要——因为他们将要——呃——呃——将要哀恸——呃——呃——被保佑的是那些将要——那些将要——呃——那些将要哀恸的人,因为他们将要——呃——将要什么?玛丽,为什么不提示我?——你干吗要这样小气?”

“哦,汤姆,你这个可怜的小笨蛋。我可不是在拿你开玩笑。我不愿逗你。你必须再去重新背。汤姆,你可别灰心丧气,你会背来的——如果你背熟了,我会给你些好玩的东西。哎,对了,这才是个好孩子。”

“好吧!给我什么,玛丽?告诉我是什么好玩的东西。”

“这你用不着问,汤姆,我说好玩,就是好玩的东西。”

“你可得讲话算话呀,玛丽。那好吧,我就再去好好地背一背。”

后来他真的“好好地背”了——在好奇心和获得奖品的希望的双重诱惑下,他精神十足地学了一阵,结果居然获得了辉煌的胜利。玛丽给了他一把价值1角2分半的崭新的“巴露牌”小刀。他欣喜若狂,手舞足蹈。说真的,这把刀切不了任何东西,但它是“千真万确”的“巴露牌”,这可是意味着一种极大的荣耀——虽然西部的孩子们居然认为这种刀器也有可能被冒牌,会损伤它的名誉,这个谜令人印象深刻,也许永远都是如此。汤姆拿这把刀在碗橱上乱刻了一阵,正准备在衣柜上动手的时候,却被唤去换衣服,准备上主日学校。

玛丽递给他一脸盆水和一块肥皂。于是,他走到门外,把脸盆放在那儿的一个小凳子上。然后他把肥皂蘸了点水,又把它放下;他卷起袖子,轻轻地把水泼在地上,转身走进厨房,用门后面的一条毛巾使劲地擦着脸。可是,玛丽拿开毛巾,说道:

“嘿,你不害臊吗?汤姆!你可千万别这么没治了。水不会伤着你的。”

汤姆有点不自在。脸盆重新又盛满了水,这一回,他下定决心俯身在脸盆边站了一会,然后深深吸了一口气,就开始洗脸。不久,他走进厨房,闭着眼睛伸手去摸那条毛巾,脸上的肥皂水直往下淌,算是他老老实实洗过脸的证明。可是,当他拿开毛巾,露出脸时,还是不能让人满意。因为洗干净的地方只局限于两腮帮子和下巴上面,看上去像个假面具似的。在下巴以下和腮帮子两旁,还有很大一片没有沾过水,黑乎乎的,从脖子一直往下,往后伸展。玛丽又拉过他来帮他收拾。她把他梳洗打扮完毕之后,他看起来才像个男人,像个兄弟,脸再也不是白一块黑一块了,那湿透了的头发也梳得整整齐齐,短短的卷发还弄成了挺好看的对称样式。(他曾费了很大的劲,偷偷地把满头的鬈发按着,紧紧地贴在头上。因为他认定鬈发总有些女人气,他为自己天生的鬈发十分懊恼。)后来,玛丽把他的一套衣服拿出来,这套衣服已穿了两年,只有星期天才穿——干脆就叫“那套衣服”——由此我们可以知道他的穿戴方面的全部衣物共有多少。他自己穿戴之后,那姑娘又帮他“整理”了一番。她把他那件整洁的上装的衣扣统统扣上,一直扣到下巴底下,又把他那个宽大的衬衣领子往下一翻,搭在两边的肩上,再给他刷得干干净净,戴上他那顶有点点的草帽。这一下子他显得极漂亮,也极不舒服,他看上去一点也不舒服。因为穿上衣服还要保持整洁,对他是种拘束,所以他心里很烦躁。他希望玛丽别让他穿鞋子,可这希望落了空。她按照当时的习惯,先给鞋子抹了一层蜡油,然后拿了出来。他发火了,埋怨别人老是让他干他自己不愿意干的事情,可是,玛丽却劝他道:

“汤姆,——这才是个好孩子哪。”

于是,汤姆一边大喊大叫,一边穿上了那双鞋。玛丽也很快地作好了准备,三个孩子就一块动身去主日学校——那地方是汤姆最深恶痛绝的;但是,希德和玛丽却非常喜欢那里。

主日学校的上课时间是从9点到10点半;之后,就是做礼拜。他们三个中间有两个总是自觉自愿地留在那儿听牧师布道,而另外一个因为更重要原因也是每次都留下来。教堂里的座位靠背很高,没有垫子,一共可坐三百人。教堂是一座简陋的、规模不大的建筑。屋顶上安了一个松木板做的盒子似的装置当做尖塔。在门口,汤姆故意放慢一步,跟一个穿着星期天服装的同伴打了招呼:

“喂,贝利,你有黄色票吗?”

“有啊。”

“你要什么东西才换呢?”

“你准备用什么换?”

“一块糖和一个钓鱼钩。”

“东西呢?”

汤姆就拿出来给他看了。贝利对这两样东西很满意,于是,双方的财物易了主。接着,汤姆用两个白石头子换了三张红票,又用其它一些小玩意换了两张蓝票。当其他的孩子走过来时,汤姆又拦住他们,继续收买各色各样的票。这样换了有十几分钟,汤姆才和一群穿着整齐、吵吵嚷嚷的男孩和女孩一起走进教堂。汤姆走到自己的座位上,和一个离他最近的男孩争吵起来。他们的老师是位面色严肃、上了年纪的人,他叫他俩别闹,然后就转过身去了。汤姆又揪了另一条板凳上一个男孩的头发,那男孩转过头时,他却在全神贯注地在看书。接着为了要听另一个男孩子叫一声“哎唷!”他又用一枚别针扎了他一下,结果被老师臭骂了一顿。汤姆所在的这个班全是一个模式——吵吵闹闹,东捣西戳,一刻不停。他们一起背诵经文时,没有一个能完整记住的,都必须不断地给予提示才行。然而,他们还是勉强过了关,个个都得了奖——蓝色的小纸票,每张票上都印有一段《圣经》上的话。要背两段《圣经》经文才能得这么样一张蓝色纸票。十张蓝色票等于一张红色票,也可以互换。十张红色票又可以换一张黄色票。如果得了十张黄色票,校长就奖励给这个学生一本简装的《圣经》(在当初日子好过的那个时候,值4角钱)。我亲爱的读者们当中,有多少人肯这么用功,费劲去背上两千段《圣经》经文来换取一本多莱版的《圣经》呢?然而玛丽却用这种方法得了两本《圣经》——那可是两年之久的耐心学习的代价——还有一个德国血统的男孩得了四五本。他曾一下子背诵了三千段《圣经》。可是由于他脑力的过度劳累,自此以后差不多成了一个白痴——这是主日学校的重大不幸,因为每逢盛大的场面,在许多来宾面前(据汤姆的讲法),校长总是叫这个男孩出来“露一手”。只有那些年龄大的学生才坚持努力用功,想法得票,为的是获取一本《圣经》。所以,每次颁发这种奖品都是件稀罕而轰动的大事。

得奖的同学在当时显得那样的伟大,那样的光荣,以致每个在场的学生心里都产生新的野心,这种野心往往要持续一两个星期之久。汤姆内心可能从来没有真正渴望过获得这种奖品,不过,毫无疑问,许多天以来他的全部身心都在渴望得到随着这种奖励而来的光彩和荣誉。

等到一定的时候,校长在布道台前面站了起来,他手里拿着一本合上的圣诗,食指夹在书页中间,叫大家静下来,听他讲道。主日学校的校长开始他那简短的开场白时,手中总少不了要拿着一本圣诗,就像歌手参加音乐会时站在演唱台,开始独唱的时候一样,手中也少不了要拿本乐谱——虽然谁也不知道为什么要这样。因为无论圣诗也好,乐谱也好,台上受罪的那个人从来都不会用得上这些的。这位校长是个35岁的瘦子,蓄着沙滩色的山羊胡和沙滩色的短头发;他穿着一副硬挺挺的衣服领子,领边几乎顶到他耳边,两个尖尖的领角顺着脖子弯过来,齐到他的嘴角——就像一堵围墙似的,逼着他只能往前方看,每当他要看旁边的时候,就不得不把整个身子都转过来;他的下巴托在一条宽大的领结上面,那个领结就像一张支票那样又宽又长,周围还带有花边。他的靴子头尖尖的,向上翘着,这在当时非常时髦,好像雪橇下面翘起来的滑刀一样——这种时新式样是年青人耐心地、吃力地一连几个钟头地坐着把脚趾拼命顶着墙的结果。华尔特先生态度非常庄重,心地虔诚而实在。他对宗教方面的事情和场所非常尊敬,把它们和世俗方面的事分得清清楚楚。因此尽管没有意识到,但他却养成了主日学校讲话时一种特别的语调,这种语调在平常的日子里是绝对听不到的。他就用这种语调开始说起来:

“孩子们,现在我要你们都尽量地、端端正正地坐起来,集中注意力听我讲一两分钟的话。对——做得好。好小孩子们就该这样做。我看见一个小姑娘在向窗外看——我想她一定认为我是在外面的某个地方——也许想着我在给树上的小鸟作演讲吧,(一阵嘻嘻哈哈的喝彩声。)我想告诉你们看到这么多聪明的、干干净净的小脸儿聚集在这样的地方,听话、学好,我心里是多么的高兴。”等等、等等诸如此类的话。下面讲的话我就不必一一写下了。反正是些千佛一面大家都熟悉的东西。华尔特先生的演说到后面三分之一时受到了一些干扰,因为一些坏孩子又打起架来或搞别的小动作,满堂都在扭头讲悄悄话。连玛丽和希德这样巍然屹立,不易摧毁的“中流砥柱”也受到了冲击。随着华尔特先生的声音突然终止,

课堂里的一切吵闹声也都随之嘎然止住,大家突然静下来,以此来表达对演说结束的感激之情。

刚才那阵子的窃窃私语主要是由一件多少有些稀罕的事情引起的——那就是来了几位来访者:有撒切尔律师,他由一个非常衰弱的老人陪伴;一位文雅、肥胖、满头铁灰色头发的中年绅士;还有一位贵夫人,她无疑是那位绅士的太太。这位夫人手里还牵着一个小孩。汤姆心里一直很不安,心里充满了烦恼和忧愁;而且还受到良心的谴责——他不敢正视艾美·劳伦斯的眼睛,她那含情的注目简直使他受不了。可是当他看见这位新来的小女孩,他的心里立刻燃起了幸福的火焰。接着他就拚命地卖弄炫耀——打别人的耳光,揪头发,做鬼脸——总而言之,凡是可能引起女孩注意,获取她欢心和赞赏的把戏,他都用了。想到在这个小天使家花园受到的那种非人的待遇,他高兴的劲头凉了一截,不过快得就像留在沙滩上的印迹一样,被幸福的浪潮一冲,就被冲得一干二净。

这几位来访者被请到最上席就座,华尔特先生刚刚结束讲话,就向全校师生介绍了这几位贵宾。那位中年人原来是个不平凡的大人物——竟是县上的法官——他是这些孩子们所见过的最威严的人物——他们很想知道他是由什么做的——他们一方面很想听听他吼叫两声,可是另一方面又相当害怕他吼叫。他是离这儿十二哩远的康士坦丁堡镇人——因此他是出过远门、见过世面的人——他那双眼睛曾见过县上的法庭——据说那所房子的屋顶是用锡皮做的。想到这些,他让人觉得畏惧,这从他那令人难忘的沉默和一排排瞪着的眼睛可以看得出来。这就是了不起的撒切尔大法官,是他们镇上律师的哥哥。杰夫·撒切尔立即走上前,和这位大人物亲近,真让全校师生羡慕、嫉妒。听大家切切私语,他就像听见音乐一般,心情舒畅。

“吉姆,你看!他上讲台了。嘿——瞧!他要和他握手啦——他真的和他握手了!哎呀,你不希望自己就是杰夫吗?”

华尔特先生开始“出风头”了,他一副官样,到处发号施令,表示意见,给予指导,忙得他不亦乐乎。只要他发现目标,免不了都要唠叨几句。图书管理员也“卖弄”了一番——他手里抱着许多本书,嘴里咕咕哝哝,到处跑动,忙个不停。他这种举动起码让那位小权威人物开心。年轻的女教师们也“炫耀”了一番——亲切地弯下腰看着那些刚被打过耳光的学生,伸出漂亮的手指对着那些不听话的孩子以示警告,或者和蔼可亲地拍拍那些乖孩子。年轻的男教师们也“出了一番风头”,他们小声地骂一骂学生,还用别的表示享有权威和重视校规的方式表现了自己——所有男男女女的教师们都在布道台旁的图书室那儿找到可干的事情。这种事情只干一次就可以了,他们却反复干了两三次(表面上装出很着急的样子)。小姑娘们也用各种方式“卖弄”,男孩子“卖弄”得更是劲头十足,于是,空中满是乱飞的纸团,教室里互相扭打的声音不断。尤其是,那位坐在台上的大人,面带庄严的微笑,一副高高在上的样子,望着全场,这种优越感令其陶然——因为他自己也在“炫耀”啊。

这时候只差一件事情,就能使华尔特先生狂喜到极点,那就是他非常想有一个机会给某个学生颁发一本《圣经》,借以展示一下自己。有几个学生拥有一些黄色票,可没有一个够数的——他在几个明星学生中间转了一圈,问了问。假如,这时候能叫那个德国血统曾经出色过的学生脑子健全起来,再能表演一回,他真情愿付出所有的一切。

希望眼看就要落空了,就在这个时候,汤姆·索亚却走上前来,手里拿着九张黄票、九张红票和十张蓝票,请求得到一本《圣经》。这真是晴天霹雳。再过十年,华尔特先生也不会料想竟是这个宝贝来提出申请。可是又无法推脱——票面都不假,按照规定都该是有效的。于是,汤姆有幸与法官和其他几位贵宾们坐在一起,这个重大的消息就从首脑席上公布于众了。这是十年来最令人吃惊的事情,全场大为轰动,把这位新英雄的地位抬高得和法官老爷相等。这下子学校的人们瞪着眼睛看的是两位而不是一位了不起的人物了。男孩子们更是忌妒得咬牙切齿——可是最懊悔的还是那些用背《圣经》得来的条子跟汤姆换他出卖刷墙特权时所积攒下的财宝的孩子们。为了汤姆这些宝贝玩意,他们给了汤姆这些条子,这帮了他大忙,使他获得了这种令人气愤的荣誉。可是,现在才发现,后悔已经晚了。这些孩子们现在才明白他们的对手是个诡计多端的骗子,是一条藏在草里狡诈的蛇,而他们自己却是上了当的大傻瓜,因此他们都觉得自惭形秽。

校长给汤姆发奖的时候,为了应付这种场合,他尽量找出一些赞美表扬的话来说。可是从他话里听出好像没有多少是发自他内心的热忱,因为这位可怜的人的本能告诉他,这里面也许潜藏着某种见不得人的秘密。这孩子脑子里真的能装下两千段圣书里的经文,真会让人笑掉大牙——因为毫无疑问,十几段经文就够他受的了。

艾美·劳伦斯既得意又自豪,她想方设法地要汤姆看出这点来——可是,汤姆偏不朝她这边看。她搞不清这是怎么回事,接着她有点儿慌张,然后隐隐约约又有点怀疑,很快疑虑消除了——跟着又怀疑起来。她注视了他一会儿,当看到汤姆偷偷地瞟了新来的女孩子一眼时,这才恍然大悟——于是她心碎了,忌妒了,非常恼火,跟着眼泪也流了出来。她恨所有的人,最恨最恨的是汤姆(她心里想)。

汤姆被校长介绍给法官大人,可是,他的舌头打了结,气也喘不过来,心也跳得厉害——一半是因为这位大人物的威严,一半则因为他是她的父亲。如果现在是夜晚,是在黑暗中,他简直就要向他下跪膜拜了。大法官把手放在汤姆的头上,说他是个好小伙子,还问他叫什么名字。这孩子结结巴巴,喘气困难,勉强答道:

“汤姆。”

“哦,不对,不是汤姆——应该是——”

“托马斯。”

“喔,这就对了。我想应该还有一半吧,也许该有,这很好。不过,我肯定你还有一个姓,你告诉我,好不好?”“托马斯,告诉法官大人你姓什么!”华尔特先生赶忙说,“还要称呼先生,你可别忘了礼貌呀。”

“托马斯·索亚——先生。”

“这就对了!这才是个好孩子。很不错的小伙子。不错,有出息。两千段的圣书经文可真不少——实在,实在是够多的。你花了那么多精力来背诵这些经文,你一辈子也不会后悔的,因为知识是宝贵的,比世上一切财富都有价值。有了知识,你就能成为伟人,成为好人;托马斯,等将来有一天,当你回首往事时,你会说,一切都归功于我儿时所上的主日学校——归功于我亲爱的老师们教给我的那些知识——归功于我的好校长,他鼓励我,督促我,还给了我一本漂亮的《圣经》——一本漂亮而精美的《圣经》——让我自己永远保留——这一切多亏了我的老师们教导有方啊!将来你会这么说的,托马斯——你那两千段经文别人无论给你多少钱,你也不会卖吧!——你肯定不会卖的。现在把你学过的内容说给我和这位太太听听,你该不会介意吧——不会的,我知道你不会在乎的——因为我们是非常赞赏有知识有学问的孩子。那么,不用问,你肯定知道所有十二门徒的名字,就把耶稣最初选定的两个门徒的名字告诉我们,好不好?”

汤姆捏住一个钮扣眼使劲地拉,样子显得很害羞。他的脸一下子涨得通红,眼皮也垂了下来。华尔特先生的心也随之一沉。他心里想,这个孩子连最简单的问题都不可能回答出来——为什么法官偏要问他?然而他又不得不开口,说道:

“托马斯,回答法官大人的问题——不要害怕。”

汤姆仍旧不肯开口。

“好吧,我知道你会跟我讲,”那位太太说。“最初的两个门徒的名字是——”

“大卫和哥利亚斯——”

这幕戏不能再往下看了,我们还是发发慈悲就此闭幕吧。

 

 

第五章    

大约10点30分的时候,小教堂的破钟开始响了起来,随即大家便聚集在一起听上午的布道。主日学校的孩子们各随各的父母坐在教堂里,为的是好受他们的监督。波莉姨妈来了,汤姆、希德和玛丽在她旁边坐下来。汤姆被安排在靠近过道的位子上坐着,为的是尽可能和开着的窗户及外面诱人的夏日景物离得远一些。人们簇拥着顺着过道往里走:有上了年纪的贫苦的邮政局局长,他曾经是过过好日子的;有镇长和他的太太——这地方竟然还有个镇长,这和其他许多没有必要的摆设一样;有治安法官;有道格拉斯寡妇,她40来岁,长得小巧而美丽,为人宽厚,慷慨大方而又心地善良,生活还算富裕,她山上的住宅是镇上唯一漂亮讲究的,可算得上殿堂,每逢节庆日,她可是圣彼德堡镇上人们引以为荣的最热情好客、最乐善好施的人;有驼背的、德高望重的华德少校和他的夫人;还有维尔逊律师,一位远道而来的新贵客。再下面就是镇上的大美人,后面跟着一大帮穿细麻布衣服、扎着缎带的、让人害单相思病的年轻姑娘。跟在她们后里的是镇上所有年轻的店员和职员,他们一涌而进——原来他们是一群如痴如醉的爱慕者,开始都站在门廊里,嘬着自己的手指头,围在那儿站成一道墙似的,一直到最后一个姑娘走出他们的包围圈为止。最后进来的一位是村里的模范儿童威利·莫夫逊,他对他母亲照顾得无微不至,就好像她是件易碎的雕花玻璃品似的。他总是领着他妈妈到教堂来,其他的妈妈都引以为豪。而男孩子们都恨他,因为他太乘巧,太听话。况且他常被人夸奖,让他们觉得难堪。他白色的手绢搭拉在屁股口袋的外面,星期天也不例外——偶而有次把除外。汤姆没有手绢,他鄙视那些有手绢的孩子们,把他们看作是故作姿态的势利小人。

听布道的人到齐后,大钟又响了一遍,为的是提醒那些迟到的和在外面乱跑的人。教堂里一片寂静,显得十分庄严,只有边座席上唱诗班里有些低声嘻笑和说话的声音,打破了这种寂静,而且自始至终整个布道过程,唱诗班里一直有人在窃窃私语,低声说笑。曾有过一个唱诗班不像这样没教养,可是我忘记那是在什么地方了。这是许多年以前的事了,我几乎对那些事没有印象了,不过,我想大概是在外国吧。

牧师把大家要唱的歌颂主的歌词拿了出来,津津有味地念了一遍,他那特别的腔调在那地区是受人欢迎的。他的音量先由中音部开始,逐渐升高,一直升到最高音的一个字,强调了一下,然后就像从跳板上跳下来一样,突然降低:

为获功勋别人正浴血奋战

在沙场

我岂能安睡花床梦想

进天堂

大家一致认为他的朗诵很精彩,很美妙。在教堂的“联欢会”上,他经常被请来给大家朗诵诗文,每当他念完之后,妇女们都要举起双手,然后软绵绵地把手落下来,放在膝上,一面“转溜”着眼睛,一面摇头,好像在说:“这简直是语言无法形容的,太美了,这样动听的声音在这凡俗的人世间实在是太难得了。”

唱完颂主歌之后,牧师斯普拉格先生就把自己变成了一块布告牌,开始宣布一些集会和团体的通知之类的事情,他一直说个没完,似乎他要宣布事情就得讲个不停直到世界末日霹雳声响时才停止——这是一种很奇怪的习惯,至今在美国还保留着,甚至在当今新闻报纸很多的城市里还没有改变这种习惯。通常传统习俗越是没有多少理由存在,越很难消除它。

再后来牧师就做祷告了。这是一篇很好的、内容丰富的祷告词,面面俱到:它为教堂和里面的孩子们祈祷;为全县向主求福;为漂泊在狂风暴雨的海洋上可怜的水手们求福;为被迫在欧洲君主制度和东方专制制度铁蹄下呻吟着的数万劳苦大众求福;为那些有了教主的光和福音而熟视无睹、充耳不闻的人求福;为远处海岛上的那些异帮教徒求福;最后牧师祈求天主恩准他所说的话,希望他的话像播种在肥沃土地里的种子一样,将会开花结果,造福无穷。阿门。

站着的人们在一片衣服的沙沙声中都坐了下来。这本书里讲述的主人公并不欣赏这篇祷告词,他只是忍受着罢了,能忍受就算不错了。他在祈祷过程中,一直不安分。他记录下祷告词的详细内容,不过是无意识地这么做——因为他没有听,但是他熟悉牧师先生惯弹的老调,惯用的陈词罢了——每当祷告词里加进一点新内容时,他的耳朵立刻就能辨别出来,而且浑身上下都不舒服。他认为加进去的太不合适,也不光明正大,简直是在耍无赖。在祈祷做到半中间的时候,有一只苍蝇落在他前面的座椅靠背上,它不慌不忙地搓着腿,伸出胳膊抱住头,用劲地擦着脑袋,它的头几乎好像要和身子分家似的,脖子细的像根线,露出来看得清清楚楚。它又用后腿拨弄翅膀,把翅膀向身上拉平,好像翅膀是它礼服的后摆;它不紧不慢,自在逍遥地老在那儿做着一全套梳妆打扮的动作,似乎很清楚自己是绝对安全的。这只苍蝇的逍遥劲让汤姆心里难受极了。那小东西的确很安全,因为当汤姆两手发痒,慢慢地移过去想抓它时,又停住了,他不敢——他相信在做祷告时干这种事情,他的灵魂立刻就会遭到毁灭的。可是,当祷告讲到最后一句时,他弓着手背悄悄地向苍蝇靠过去,“阿门”刚一说出口,苍蝇就做了阶下囚。他姨妈发现后让他把苍蝇放掉了。

牧师宣布了布道词引用的《圣经》章节,接着就单调乏味地进行施道,如此平淡啰嗦以致于有许多人渐渐地低下头打瞌睡——他的布道词里讲了数不清的各种各样的地狱里的刑罚,让人有种感觉,能够有资格让上帝选入天堂的真是为数极少,几乎不值得拯救了。汤姆计算着祷告词的页数,做完礼拜他总能说出牧师经文的页数,至于内容他是很少知道。然而这一回却不同:他对内容真有点感兴趣了。牧师描绘了幅辉煌而动人的画面:千年至福时期全世界各族人民团聚在一起,狮子和羊羔躺在一起,由一个孩子领着它们。可是这伟大的场面没有一点感动汤姆,他关注的是那里面的人物在成千上万的人们面前所显出的惹人注目的神气。想到这里,他的脸上露出喜色。他暗自想如果那头狮子驯服不吃人的话,他很愿意自己就是那孩子。

当牧师继续枯燥无味地往下讲道时,汤姆重新又陷入了痛苦之中。立刻他想起了他的一个宝贝玩意,赶快把它拿了出来。那是一只下巴骨长得可怕的大黑甲虫——他叫它“大钳甲虫”。这只甲虫是装在雷管筒子里。它一被放出来,就咬汤姆的手指。他很自然地弹了一下手指,那甲虫就滚到过道里,仰面朝天,无奈地弹动着它那几条腿,翻不了身。汤姆把被咬痛的手指放到嘴里,眼巴巴地看着“大钳甲虫”,很想把它抓回来,可是他怎么也够不到。其他的人对牧师的布道也不感兴趣,就拿这只甲虫来解闷,他们也盯着它看。这时一只游荡的狮子狗懒洋洋地走过来,心情郁闷,在安闲的夏日里显得懒懒散散,它在屋里待腻了,很想出来换换环境。它一眼发现了这只甲虫,垂着的尾巴立即竖起来,晃动着。它审视了一下这个俘虏,围着它转了一圈,远远地闻了闻,又围着它走了一圈,胆子渐渐大了起来,靠近点又闻了闻。它张开嘴,小心翼翼地想把它咬住,可是却没咬住。于是它试了一回,又一回,渐渐地觉得这很开心,便把肚子贴着地,用两只脚把甲虫挡在中间,继续捉弄它。最后它终于厌烦了,下巴一点一点往下低,刚一碰到它的对手就被它咬住了。狮子狗尖叫一声,猛然摇了一下头,于是甲虫被它摔出了有一两码,摔得仰面朝天。邻座的观看者心里感到一种轻松的愉快,笑了起来,有些人用扇子和手绢遮住了脸,汤姆简直高兴死了。那只狗看起来傻乎乎的,也许它自己也觉得如此吧,可是它怀恨在心,决计报复。于是,它又走近甲虫,小心翼翼地开始再向它进攻。它围着它转,一有机会就扑上去,前爪离甲虫还不到一英尺远,又靠上去用牙齿去咬它,忙得它头直点,耳朵也上下直扇悠。可是,过了一会儿,它又厌烦了。它本想拿只苍蝇来开开味,可是仍不能解闷;然后,它鼻子贴着地面,跟着一只蚂蚁走,不久又打了呵欠,叹了口气,把那只甲虫彻底地给忘记了,一屁股坐在甲虫上面。于是,就听到这狗痛苦地尖叫起来,只见它在过道上飞快地跑着。它不停地叫着,不停地跑着,从圣坛前面跑过去,跑到了另一边的过道上。它又从大门那儿跑出去,跑到门边上的最后一段跑道,它往前跑,越是痛得难受,后来简直成了一个毛茸茸的彗星,闪着光亮,以光的速度在它的轨道上运行着。最后这只痛得发疯的狮子狗,越出了跑道,跳到主人的怀里;主人一把抓住它,把它扔到窗户外,痛苦的叫声很快地小下来,最后在远处听不见了。

这时候,教堂里所有的人都因竭力不发出笑声而憋得满脸通红,喘不过气来,布道声嘎然止住,一片寂静。接着牧师又开始讲道,犹犹豫豫而且声音走调,再想引起注意,无论如何是不可能的了,因为即便他说的内容很严肃,在后面座位背后忍不住总有一阵子失敬的笑声传来,好像这个可怜的人刚刚说了什么可笑的事情。等人们终于结束了受难,牧师给他们祝福的时候,全场都不免感到一阵轻松。

汤姆·索亚心情舒畅地回了家。他心里想,做礼拜时再加上点花样,倒挺有趣的。美中不足的是:他愿意让那只狗和大钳甲虫玩耍,可是它竟带着甲虫跑了,这未免太不够朋友了。

 

 

第六章    

星期一早晨,汤姆·索亚很难受。这个时候汤姆向来是很难受的——因为又一个漫长而难熬的星期开始了。他在这一天总是想要是没有这个休息日夹在中间倒也好些,有了那一天,他感到再到学校里去犹如去坐牢、去受罪,这使他觉得十分厌恶。

汤姆躺在那想着。突然一个念头在脑子里一闪,他希望他生病;这样,他就能待在家里不去上学了。这倒是有可能。他把自己浑身上下仔细地检查了一下,没有发现什么毛病。他又查找了一番,这次他以为可以找出肚子疼的理由,并且满心希望地让疼痛发作。可是不久他就泄了气,根本没有一点疼痛的迹象。于是他又动起脑筋来,突然,他发现目标了。他的上排门牙有一颗松了劲。他真是太运气了;他正打算开始呻吟,用他的话说这叫“开场白”,这时他猛然想起如果他提出这个理由来应付的话,他姨妈就会当真把这颗牙拔出来,那将偷鸡不成反蚀一把米。所以他想暂时先留着这颗牙,再另找毛病。找了一段时间,他没找到什么毛病,后来他想起曾听医生说过有一种病能让病人躺两三个星期,而且弄不好会烂掉一只手指头。于是这孩子急忙把他那只肿痛的脚趾头从被子里搬出来,举起来仔细察看。可是,他又不清楚那种病有些什么病症。不管怎么说,试还是值得一试的,于是他煞有介事地开始呻吟起来。

可是希德仍然睡着,一点反应都没有。汤姆呻吟得更响了,而且感到他的脚真地痛起来。

希德还是一动不动。

汤姆因为呻吟得太吃力,累得喘着粗气。他停了一会,重新鼓起劲头,发出一连串绝妙的呻吟声。

希德还在酣睡。

汤姆来火了。他喊道:“希德,希德!”边喊边推推他。这一招果然很有效,于是汤姆又开始呻吟起来。希德打着呵欠,伸伸懒腰,用胳膊肘支起身子时又喷了一下鼻子,然后瞪起双眼看着汤姆。汤姆还在叫唤,希德就问:

“汤姆!嘿,汤姆!”(汤姆没搭腔。)“怎么啦,汤姆!汤姆!你怎么啦,汤姆?”他推了推汤姆,焦急地看着他的脸。

汤姆呻吟着说:

“啊,希德,不要这样,不要推我。”

“嘿,汤姆,你怎么啦?我得去叫姨妈来。”

“不——不要紧。这也许慢慢会过去的,不用叫任何人来。”

“我一定要去叫!不要再这样叫唤了,怪让人害怕的。你这么难受有多久了?”

“好几个小时了,哎唷!希德,不要推我,你想要我的命啊!”

“汤姆,你为什么不早点叫醒我?哦,汤姆,不要叫唤了!

听你这么叫我身上都起鸡皮疙瘩。汤姆,哪儿不舒服?”

“希德,我什么事情都原谅你(呻吟)。你对我所干的一切事情我都不怪罪你。我死了以后……”

“喔,汤姆,你不会死的,别这样,汤姆——啊,别这样。也许……”

“希德,我原谅所有的人(呻吟)。希德,请你转告他们吧。希德,你把我那个窗户框子和那只独眼小猫给那个新搬来的姑娘吧,你对她说……”

可是希德早就抓起衣服跑出去了。这时候汤姆真地感到很难受了,没想到想象力竟起了这么大的作用,于是他的呻吟声就装得像真的一样了。

希德飞快地跑下楼,边跑边喊道:

“波莉姨妈,快来呀!汤姆要死了!”

“要死了?!”

“是的,姨妈。来不及了,快上来!”

“瞎讲!我不相信!”

可是她还是赶快地跑上楼去,希德和玛丽紧跟在后面。这时她脸色也白了,嘴唇直颤动。来到床边后,她喘着气问:

“是你,汤姆!汤姆,你哪里不舒服啊?”

“哦,姨妈,我——”

“你哪里不舒服——孩子,你到底怎么啦?”

“哦,姨妈,我那只肿痛的脚趾头发炎了!”

老太太一屁股坐在椅子上,笑了一会,又哭了一阵,然后又连哭带笑。等到她终于恢复了常态,她说:“汤姆,你真地把我吓坏了。好了,闭上嘴巴,别再胡扯八道了,快起床吧。”

呻吟声停了,脚趾的疼痛也立刻消失了。这孩子觉得有点不好意思,于是他说:

“波莉姨妈,脚趾头看着真像是发炎了,痛得我把牙齿的事忘得一干二净。”

“你的牙齿,真是怪事!牙齿又怎么啦?”

“有一颗牙松动了,而且的确痛得难受。”

“得了,得了,你可别再叫唤了。张开嘴,不错——你的一颗牙齿真地松动了,不过你绝不会痛死的。玛丽,拿根丝线给我,再到厨房去弄块烧红的火炭来。”

汤姆说:

“啊,姨妈,请你手下留情。现在牙不痛了。要是再痛,我也不叫唤了。姨妈,请您别拔啦。我不想呆在家里逃学了。”

“哦,你不逃学了,是吗?原来你这么大叫大闹,为的就是你以为这样就可以呆在家里,不去上学去钓鱼呀?汤姆呀,汤姆,我这么爱你,可是你好像尽耍花招来气我,想断送我这条老命呀。”这时候,拔牙的准备已经做好了。老太太把丝线的一头打了活结,牢牢地系在汤姆的那颗牙上,另一头系在床柱上。然后她拿起那块烧红的火炭,猛地朝汤姆脸面伸过去,差点碰到他的脸。结果,那颗牙就晃来晃去吊在床柱上了。

可是有所失就有所得。当汤姆吃过早饭去上学的时候,在路上遇到的每个孩子都羡慕他,因为他上排牙齿的缺口能够使他用一种新的方法吐唾沫。一大群孩子们跟在他后面,对他这种表演很感兴趣。有一个割破手指的孩子,大家都敬佩他,围着他转,现在忽然没有人追随他了,不免大失光彩。他的心情很沉重,可是他却鄙夷地说,像汤姆·索亚那样吐唾沫,算不了什么稀罕,可是他心里并不真地这么认为,另外有个孩子说:“酸葡萄!”于是他就成了一位落荒而逃的英雄。

不久汤姆遇到了村子里坏孩子哈克贝利·费恩,他是本镇一个酒鬼的儿子。全镇所有的母亲们对哈克贝利都深恶痛绝而又十分畏惧:他游手好闲、无法无天,而且既下流又没教养——再加上所有的孩子却又都非常羡慕他。虽然大人们都不允许他们和他接触,他们却乐于和他玩耍,还希望自己也敢学他那样。和其他许多体面的孩子们一样,汤姆很羡慕哈克贝利那种逍遥自在的流浪儿生活,可是也被严厉地告知:不许和他玩。所以,他每每一有机会就和他混在一起。哈克贝利经常穿着大人们丢弃不要的旧衣服,总是满身开花,破布乱飘。他的帽子很大很破,边上有一块月牙形的帽边子耷拉着。他要是穿着上装的话,那上装就差不多拖到他的脚后跟,背后的两排并齐的扣子一直扣到屁股;裤子却只有一根吊带;裤子裆部像个空空的口袋似地垂得很低。裤腿没有卷起的时候,毛了边的下半截就在灰土里拖来拖去。

哈克贝利来去很自由,全凭自己高兴。天气晴朗的时候,他就睡在门口台阶上;下雨时,就睡到大空桶里。他不用去上学也不必去做礼拜,不必叫谁老师,也不用服从谁;他可以随时随地去钓鱼,去游泳,而且想呆多长间就呆多长时间;也没有人管住他打架;晚上他高兴熬夜到什么时候就熬到什么时候;春天他总是第一个光着脚,到了秋天却是最后一个穿上鞋;他从来不用洗脸,也不用穿干净衣服;他可以随便骂人,而且特别会骂。总而言之,一切充分享受生活的事情,这孩子都拥有了。圣彼德堡镇的那些受折磨、受拘束的体面孩子们个个都是这么想的。

汤姆向那个浪漫的流浪儿招呼道:

“你好啊,哈克贝利!”

“你也好啊,喜欢这玩意吧。”

“你得了什么宝贝?”

“一只死猫。”

“哈克,让我瞅瞅。嗐,这家伙倒是硬帮帮的,你从哪弄来的?”

“从一个孩子那儿买来的。”

“拿什么换的?”

“我给他一张蓝色票和一只从屠宰厂那儿弄来的尿泡。”

“你的蓝票是从哪儿弄来的?”

“两星期前用一根推铁环的棍子和贝恩·罗杰换的。”

“我说——哈克,死猫能有什么用?”

“有什么用?可以治疣子。”

“不会吧!你说能治吗?我知道有个更好的药方子。”

“我敢打赌你不知道。是什么方子?”

“不就是仙水吗。”

“仙水!我看仙水一文钱不值?”

“你说一文钱不值,是不是?你试过吗?”

“没有试过。可是鲍勃·唐纳试过。”

“你怎么知道的?”

“噢,他告诉杰夫·撒切尔,杰夫又告诉江尼·贝克,江尼又告诉吉姆·赫利斯,吉姆又告诉本·罗杰,罗杰又告诉了一个黑人,那黑人又告诉了我。这不,我就知道了。”

“得,你知道又有什么?他们都在撒谎,那个黑人可能除外。我不认识他,不过我从来也没见过有哪个黑人不撒谎的。呸!那么哈克你说说鲍勃·唐纳怎么试的吧。”

“噢,他的手伸进一个腐烂的老树桩子里去蘸里面的雨水。”

“在白天干的吗?”

“那还用说。”

“脸对着树桩吗?”

“对呀。至少我是这么合计的。”

“他没说什么?”

“我估计没有。我不清楚。”

“啊!用那样糊涂蛋的方法还谈什么仙水治疣子!哎,那根本就行不通。你必须独自一个人到树林中间,找到那个有仙水的树桩,等到正值半夜时分,你背对着树桩,把手塞进去,嘴里要念:‘麦粒麦粒,还有玉米粉,仙水仙水,治好这疣子。’念完之后,就闭着眼睛,立刻走开,走十一步,然后转三圈,不要和任何人讲话径直回家。如果你一讲话,那符咒就不灵了。”

“哼,这听起来倒像是好办法;不过鲍勃·唐纳不是这样做的。”

“嘿,尊敬的伙计,他当然没有这样做,所以他是这个镇上疣子长得最多的一个。他要是晓得怎么使用仙水,那他身上就会一个疣子都没有了。哈克,用那个办法我已经治好手上无数个疣子。我老爱玩青蛙,所以我老是长出许许多多的疣子。有时候我就拿蚕豆来治它们。”

“是的,蚕豆是不错。我也这样治过。”

“是吗?你是怎么做的?”

“拿一个蚕豆把它掰成两片,再把疣子弄破,弄出点血来,然后你把血涂在蚕豆的一片上,趁着半夜三更没有月亮的时候,找个岔路口,挖个坑把这片蚕豆埋到地下,再把另外半片烧掉。你看有血的那半片蚕豆不停地在吸啊吸啊,想把另外那半片吸过去,这样有助于用血去吸疣子,过不多久,疣子就掉了。”

“对,就是这样干的,哈克——就是这样。当然你埋蚕豆的时候,你要说:‘埋下蚕豆,消掉疣子,不要再来烦我!’这会更好些的。乔·哈帕就是这样做的,他差不多到过康维尔,还有许多别的地方哩。可是话说回来,用死猫怎么治疣子呢?”

‘唉,你拿着死猫等半夜坏蛋被埋时,到坟地去;魔鬼都是半夜行动,说不准三两成群,不过你看不见他们,但能听到他们走路的声音,或许还能听到他们的谈话。他们带那坏蛋到阴曹地府时,你往他们后面扔死猫还要念道:‘鬼跟尸跑,

猫跟鬼跑,疣子跟着猫,我和疣子一刀两断了!’这样保管什么疣子都治好。”

“这听起来倒是蛮有道理。哈克,你试过没有?”

“没有。不过霍普金斯老太婆跟我说过。”

“是啊,她可能说过。因为人们说她是个巫婆。”

“可不是吗,汤姆,这我知道。她迷惑过我爹。这是我爹亲口说的。有一天,他走过来,见她要迷惑他,就捡起一块大石头,要不是她躲闪得及时,他就砸中她了。可是也就在当天夜里,他喝醉了酒,躺在一个小木屋顶上,不知怎么就摔下来,摔断了一只胳膊。”

“哎呀,真不幸。他是怎么知道她要迷惑他的呢?”

“哦,我的老天爷!我爹一眼就看出来了。我爹说她们直勾勾地盯着你时,就是要迷惑你,特别是当嘴里还念着咒时,就更不用说了。这时,她们把圣经的祷文倒过来念。”“嘿,我说哈克,你打算什么时候去试着用这猫治疣子?”

“今天夜里。我猜他们会去弄霍斯·威廉斯这老家伙。”

“可是他不是星期六被埋了吗?他们星期六夜里没来把他弄走吗?”

“嘿,瞧你说的!他们的咒语午夜后怎么能起作用呢?午夜一过那可就是星期天了。我猜想,真是星期天鬼是不怎么四处游荡的。”

“我从来没有想到这一点。是这么回事呀。让我和你一起去,好吗?”

“当然好了——只要你不害怕就行。”

“害怕!那还不至于。你来学猫叫好吗?”

“好。如果我叫了,你也回应一声。上一回,你让我老在那学猫咪呜咪呜的,后来黑斯这老头就冲我扔石头,还说‘去他妈的瘟猫!’所以我拿砖头砸了他家窗户。不过,你不要讲出去。”

“我不会说的。那天晚上我姨妈一直在盯住我,我怎么能学猫叫呢。但是这一回我会咪呜的。嘿,那是什么?”

“只是个扁虱罢了。”

“在哪搞到的?”

“在外面的树林里。”

“拿什么东西跟你换它,你才干?”

“我不知道。我不想把它卖掉。”

“那就算了。你瞧你这只扁虱,这么小哩。”

“哦,吃不到葡萄就说葡萄酸。我对它倒是挺满意的。对我来说,这扁虱够好的了。”

“哼,扁虱多得是。我要是想要的话,一千个我也能搞到。”

“喂,得了吧,那你搞来给我看看呀。你是抓不到的。我认为这是个较早的扁虱,是我今年见到的头一个。”

“那么,哈克,我用我的牙齿跟你换扁虱吧。”

“让我瞧瞧。”

汤姆拿出一个小纸包,小心翼翼地打开它。哈克贝利望眼欲穿。这诱惑大大了。最后,他说:

“这是真牙齿吗?”

汤姆翻起嘴唇,给他看缺口。

“哼,那好吧。”哈克贝利说,“换就换吧。”

汤姆把扁虱装进前几天囚禁大钳甲虫的那个雷管筒子里后,他们就分手了,各自都感觉比以前富有了许多。

汤姆来到那座孤零零的小木框校舍的时候,他迈着轻松愉快的步伐,好像是老老实实来上学的样子,大步走进教室。他把帽子挂在钉子上,一本正经地边忙边坐到他的座位上。他的老师正高高地坐在他那把大细藤条扶手椅上,听着催眠的读书声,正打着盹。汤姆进来把他吵醒了。

“托马斯·索亚!”

汤姆晓得老师要是叫他全名,那麻烦事就来了。

“到,老师!”

“过来,我问你。好家伙,你为什么迟到了,总是这样?”

汤姆正要撒个谎来蒙混过关,这时他看到一个人的背上垂下两条长长的金黄色辫子,他为之一惊。一股爱情的暖流使他立刻认出了那女孩子。女生坐的那一边,正好只有她身旁空着一个位子。他立刻说:

“我路上和哈克贝利·费恩讲话耽搁了!”

老师气得脉搏都要停止跳动了,他无可奈何地瞪着眼睛望着汤姆。乱哄哄的读书声也停止了。学生们都很纳闷,这个莽撞的家伙是不是脑子有毛病。老师说:

“你,你干了什么?”

“路上和哈克贝利·费恩讲话耽搁了。”

他说得一清二楚。

“托马斯·索亚,这可是我听到的最叫人吃惊的坦白交待了。你犯了这样大的错误,光用戒尺不能解决问题。把上衣脱掉!”

老师直打得胳膊发累,戒鞭有明显磨损时才住手。之后他命令道:

“去吧!去和姑娘们坐在一块,这对你算是一次警告。”

教室里到处都是窃窃私语声,似乎是这让汤姆脸红。但实际上,他脸红是因为崇拜那位素不相识的女孩,还有幸能和她同桌。他在松木板凳的一头坐下来,那女孩子一仰头,身子往另一头移了移。大家相互推推胳膊,眨眨眼睛,低声耳语。但是汤姆却正襟危坐,两只胳膊放在既长又矮的书桌上,好像在看书学习。

渐渐地,大家的注意力不再集中在汤姆身上,学校里惯有的低沉的读书声重新在那沉闷的空气中响起。这时汤姆偷偷地瞥了那女孩几次。她注意到了,“朝他做了鬼脸”之后有一分钟光景,她都用后脑勺冲着他。等她慢慢地转过脸来时,有一个桃子摆在了她的面前。她把桃子推开,汤姆又轻轻地把它放回去。她又把桃子推开,不过这次态度缓和了些。汤姆耐心地把它又放回原处。这一回她没有再拒绝了。汤姆在他的写字板上写了几个字:“请你收下吧,我多得是哩。”那女孩瞥了瞥这些字,仍是一动也不动。于是汤姆就用左手挡住写字板,开始在上面画着图画。有好一阵子,那女孩坚决不去看他作画,可是在好奇心的驱使下,她开始动摇了。汤姆继续画着,好像不知道那回事。那女孩想看,但态度不明朗,可是这男孩还是不动声色,装作没看见。最后她让了步,犹犹豫豫小声说道:

“让我看看吧。”

汤姆略微挪开左手,石板上画的是座房子,画得既不好又模模糊糊,两个山墙头,还有一缕炊烟从烟囱里袅袅升起。可是姑娘的兴趣被吸引住了,于是,她把一切都抛到了九霄云外。画画好的时候,她盯着看了一会,然后低声说:

“画得真好——再画一个人上去。”

于是,这位“画家”就在前院里画了一个人,他拔地而起,那形状有点像一架人字起重机,他一大步就可以跨过房子。可是这姑娘并不在乎这一点。她对这个大怪物很满意。她低声说:

“这个人画得真好看,再画就画我,画成正走过来的样子。”

汤姆就画了个水漏或沙漏(均可作计时器用),加上一轮满月,四肢像草扎似的,硬梆梆的,张开的手指拿着一把大得可怕的扇子。

姑娘说:

“画得太好了。我要是会画就好了。”

“这容易,”汤姆低声说道,“跟我学。”

“啊,你愿意吗?什么时候教我?”

“中午。你回家吃午饭吗?”

“如果你教我,我就留在这里。”

“好,那太好不过了。你叫什么名字?”

“贝基·撒切尔,你叫什么?哦,我知道,你叫托马斯·索亚。”

“他们揍我时,就叫我这个名字。我表现好的时候叫做汤姆。你叫我汤姆,好吗?”

“好的。”

这时候,汤姆又在写字板上写着什么字,还用手挡住不让那姑娘看见。这一回她不像以前了。她请求汤姆给她看。汤姆说:

“啊,没什么好看的。”

“不,一定有好看的。”

“真的没什么好看的。再说,你也不爱看这个。”

“我要看,我真的要看。请让我看一看。”

“你会说出去的。”

“不会,决不会,百分之一百二十地不会。”

“跟任何人你都不会说吗?永远不说,一辈子不说?”

“是的,我不会告诉任何人,现在让我看吧。”

“啊,你真想看吗!”

“既然你这样待我,我就一定要看!”于是她把小手儿按在他手上,两个人争了一会儿,汤姆假装拼命捂着不让她看的样子,可是手渐渐移开,露出了三个字:“我爱你。”

“啊,你坏蛋!”她用力打了他的手,脸虽然红了,但心里却乐滋滋的。

就在这时,汤姆觉得有人慢慢地抓住他的耳杂,渐渐往上提起。这一抓非同小同,让汤姆挣脱不掉。就这样,在一片尖刻的咯咯笑声中他被钳着耳杂,从教室这边拉到那边自己的座位上。接着老师在他身旁站了一会,教室里肃然起敬,然后他则一言不发,回到了自己的宝座上。汤姆虽然感到耳朵很疼,但心里却是甜蜜蜜的。

班里静下来时,汤姆动起真格来要好好学习,可是内心却不能平静下来。结果朗读时,他读得别别扭扭;而在地理课上,他把湖泊当成山脉,一切都被他“恢复”到了原始混沌状态;上拼写课时,一连串最简单的字弄得他“翻了船”,结果成绩在全班垫了底,他只好把戴在身上、风光了好几个月的那枚奖章退给了老师。

 

 

第七章 

汤姆越想集中注意力看书,脑子就越乱。他只好叹叹气,打了个呵欠,最后取消了看书学习的念头。他觉得中午放学时间老是不到来。空气死一般寂等,纹丝不动,这是最最发困的日子。教室里有二十五位学生在用功,他们的读书声就像是一群蜜蜂的嗡嗡叫声,安抚着人们的心灵,也催人入眠。远处赤日炎炎下,卡第夫山在一层微微闪动的热浪中,显得青翠欲滴,紫莹莹的,远看上去十分柔和;几只鸟儿悠闲地在高高的天空上翱翔;只有几只牛还算是活着的东西,可它们却在睡觉。汤姆心急如焚,企盼着早点下课,不然弄点有趣的活计捣鼓捣鼓来打发时间也好。他七摸八摸地模到了口袋,不知不觉地,他为之一振,满脸露出感激之情。于是他悄悄地拿出那个雷管筒子,把扁虱放出来,放在那条平平的长条书桌上。这小东西大概也有种谢天谢地的快感,可是未免高兴得有些太早了,因为正当它感激万分地要逃走时,汤姆用别针把它翻了个,让它改变了方向。

汤姆的至友乔·哈帕就坐在他旁边。和汤姆一样,乔·哈帕终于有了出头之日。看见扁虱,他很感激,一下子对它产生了浓厚的兴趣。这两个朋友平日里是莫逆之交,可到了星期六就成了对阵的敌人。乔从衣服的翻领上取下别针,开始帮着操练这个小俘虏。这种玩法立刻有趣多了。不久,汤姆说两个人玩一样东西既不方便也不过瘾。因此他把乔的写字板放到桌子上,在写字板正中间从上到下划了一条直线。

他说:“现在只要扁虱在你那边,你就可以拨弄它,我不动手;不过要是你让它跑了,跑到我这边,你就得让我玩,只要我能保住它,不让它爬过去,你就不准动手。”

“行,开始吧。让它走。”

扁虱很快就从汤姆这边逃出去,爬过了界线。乔捉玩了一阵,它又逃掉,跑到汤姆那边。这样扁虱经常来回两边跑,因此当一个孩子全神贯注地担心扁虱会逃到另一边时,另外一个也饶有兴趣地在一旁看着。两个脑袋都凑得很近盯着写字板,对周围发生的一切,他俩全然不顾。后来乔好像非常走运。那扁虱这儿走走,那儿走走,然后又换一边走走,它和两个孩子一样既兴奋又着急。可是一次又一次,正当它好像是有把握可以获得胜利,汤姆的手指也正在急着要去拨它的时候,乔用别针灵巧地把它拨了一下,又叫它转回头,还是留在他这边。最后汤姆实在是忍无可忍,诱惑实在太大了。于是他伸出手去,用他的别针拨了一下。乔这下子也生气了,说:

“汤姆,你别动它。”

“我只是想稍微动它一下,乔。”

“不,伙计,这不公平;你还是不要动它。”

“去你的,我又不是使劲拨它。”

“告诉你,别去动它。”

“我不愿意!”

“你得愿意——它在我这边。”

“听着,乔·哈帕,这扁虱是谁的?”

“我不管是谁的——现在我这一边,你就不得动它。”“哼,我就动,怎么着?他是我的,我爱怎么动就怎么动,拼上性命我也不在乎!”

汤姆的肩膀上重重挨了一击,乔也一样。有两分钟的功夫,他俩的上衣灰尘直冒,弄得全体同学极为开心。孩子们光顾你争我抢,没有注意到教室里突然变得鸦雀无声。原来老师早已观察了许久后,这才踮着脚走过来站到了他们跟前。

中午放学的时候,汤姆飞快跑到贝基·撒切尔那儿,低声耳语道:

“戴上帽子,装着要回家去;走到拐角时,你就单溜,然后从那巷子再绕回来。我走另一条路,也用同样的办法甩开他们。”

于是,一个跟着一群同学走了,另一个跟着另一群走。一会儿之后,他们都到了巷子尽头。返回学校后,一切都归他俩支配。于是他们坐在一起,面前放着一块写字板,汤姆给贝基一枝铅笔,然后手把着手教她画,就这样又画了一个令人叫绝的房子。当他们对画画渐渐不再感兴趣时,就开始说起话来。汤姆沉浸在幸福之中。他说:

“你喜欢老鼠吗?”

“不!我讨厌老鼠!”

“哼,我也讨厌——活老鼠。可我是说死老鼠,用一根线拴着,在头上甩来甩去地玩。”

“不,不管怎么样,我不大喜欢老鼠。我所喜欢的是口香糖。”

“啊,我也是。要是现在有就好了。”

“是吗?我倒有几个。我让你嚼一会儿,不过你要还给我。”

谈好条件以后,他俩轮流嚼着口香糖,他们悬着腿,坐在长凳上,高兴极了。

汤姆问:“你看过马戏吗?”

“看过。我爸说如果我听话的话,他以后还带我去看哩。”

“我看过三四次马戏——看过好多次。做礼拜和看马戏相比,算不了什么。马戏团演出时,总是不停地换着花样。我打算长大后到马戏团当小丑。”

“啊,真的吗!那倒不错。小丑满身画着点点,真可爱。”

“是的,一点也不错。他们能赚大把大把的钞票——差不多一天赚一块,本·罗杰斯说的。嘿,贝基,你订过婚吗?”

“订婚是什么?”

“哦,订婚就是快要结婚了。”

“没有。”

“你愿意订婚吗?”

“我想是愿意的。我不知道。订婚究竟是怎么回事?”“怎么回事?说不上怎么回事。你对一个男孩子说除了他,你将永远永远,永远不和别人相好,然后你就和他接吻,就这么回事。人人都能做到。”

“接吻?接吻干什么?”

“哎,那,你知道,就是——嘿,人家都是那样做的。”

“人人都这样?”

“哎,对,彼此相爱的人都这样。你还记得我在写字板上写的字吗?”

“记——记得。”

“写的是什么?”

“我不告诉你。”

“那我告诉你。”

“好——好吧——还是以后再说吧。”

“不,现在说。”

“不行,现在不能说——明天再说吧。”

“不,不行,就现在说。求求你,贝基——我小声说,我轻轻地说。”

贝基正在犹豫,汤姆认为她是默许了,于是用胳膊搂住她的腰,嘴靠近她的耳朵,轻声细语地讲了那句话。接着他又补充道:

“现在你也轻轻地对我说——同样的话。”

她先拒绝了一会,然后说:

“你把脸转过去,别看着我,我就说。但是你千万不要对别人说,好吗?汤姆,你不对别人说吧!”

“不说,我保证,保证不说。来吧,贝基。”

他把脸转过去。她胆怯地弯下腰,一直到她的呼吸吹动了汤姆的鬈发,才悄声地说:“我——爱——你!”

她说完就围着书桌和板凳跑起来,汤姆在后面追她;最后她躲在拐角里,用白色围裙遮住脸。汤姆一把抱紧她的脖子,求她:

“好了,贝基,现在一切都做了——就差接吻了。不要害怕——没什么大不了的。求你了,贝基。”他使劲拉她的围裙和手。

渐渐地她让了步,她把手放下来。刚才一阵折腾使她的脸都红了,她抬起头,顺从了汤姆。汤姆吻了她红红的嘴唇,说道:

“好了,贝基,该做的都做了。要知道,从今往后你只能爱我不能跟别人好,只能嫁给我不能和别人结婚,永远、永远、不变,好吗?”

“好的。汤姆,我只跟你相爱,不爱别人,我只嫁给你,不和别人结婚——你也一样除了我不能娶别人。”

“对对,对对。还有,通常我们在上学或放学的时候,要是没有旁人在场的话,你就和我一块走——开舞会的时候,你选我做伴,我选你做伴,因为订了婚的人都是这样的。”

“真是太有意思了。我以前还从没听说过。”

“啊,这才有趣哪!嘿,我和艾美·劳伦斯——”

贝基睁大了两只眼睛望着他,汤姆这才发现自己已铸成了大错,于是他住了口,有点不知所措的样子。

“啊,汤姆!那么,我还不是头一个和你订婚的呀!”

这小女孩开始哭了起来。汤姆说:

“哦,贝基,不要哭,我已经不再喜欢她了。”

“哼,喜欢不喜欢她,你汤姆心中有数。”

汤姆想伸出胳膊去搂她的脖子,可是被她推开了。她转脸对着墙,继续在哭。汤姆又试了一次,嘴里还讲着好话,可是她还是不理他。这一下伤了他的面子,于是他大步流星,来到外面。他在附近站了一会儿,心里很乱,十分着急,不时地朝门口瞅一瞅,希望她会后悔,会出来找他。可是她没有。这样他渐渐觉得不对劲,害怕自己真地犯了错。经过一番激烈的思想斗争,他镇定下来,走进教室去认错。她还站在教室后面的拐角处,脸冲着墙,在抽泣。汤姆的良心受到了指责。他走到她身旁站了一会,不知道该怎么办才好。片刻后,他迟疑不定地说:

“贝基,我不喜欢别人,只喜欢你。”

没有应声——只有抽泣。

“贝基,”——汤姆恳求道,“贝基,你说话好不好?”

贝基抽泣得更厉害。

汤姆把他最珍贵的宝贝,一个壁炉柴架顶上的铜把手,拿出来从她背后绕过去给她看,说:

“求求你了,贝基,拿着这个好不好?”

她一把把铜把手打翻在地。于是汤姆大步流星走出教室,翻过小山,走到很远的地方,那一天他是不打算再回学校了。很快贝基就开始担心了。她跑到门口,没有看见他。她又飞快地跑到操场,他也不在那里。于是,她就喊:

“汤姆!回来吧,汤姆!”

她留神听了听,可是没有回答。伴随她的只有寂寞和孤独。她坐下又哭起来,边哭边生自己的气;这时候同学们又陆陆续续地来上学了,她虽然伤心欲绝,但只得掩而不露。周围的陌生人中,没有人替她分忧解愁。她只好在痛苦中熬过那漫长而令人乏味的下午。

 

 

第八章   

汤姆东躲西闪地穿过几条巷子,离开了同学们返校的路,然后就郁郁不欢地慢慢走着。他在一条小溪流上来回跨过两三次,因为孩子们普遍迷信来回跨水就会让人追不上。半小时后,他渐渐消失在卡第夫山上道格拉斯家那幢大房子后面,身后山谷里的学校只是隐约可见。他走进一片茂密的森林,披荆斩棘,闯出一条路,来到林中深处,在一棵枝叶茂盛的橡树下,一屁股坐到青苔地上。树林里纹丝不动,中午的闷热,令人窒息,连树上的鸟儿都停止了歌唱。大地一片昏睡,只有远处偶尔才传来一两声啄木鸟啄木的得得声,这使得原本寂静的森林显得更加寂然无声,汤姆也更加觉得孤独无援。他心灰意冷,他的情绪和这里的环境正合拍。他双手托着下巴,两肘撑在膝盖上,沉思着在那儿坐了很长时间。在他看来,活着充其量不过是受罪。想到这,他越发羡慕新近故去的吉米·赫杰斯。他想伴随着风声飒飒的树林和坟头摇曳的花草,人要是能无忧无虑地躺在那儿长眠不醒,美梦不断,那一定很惬意。这时他真心希望以前在主日学校里表现得清清白白。那样的话,他这回就可以无所牵挂地去了,一死百了。至于那个姑娘,他到底干了什么呢?什么也没干。他本来出于善意的目的,可她却像对待狗那样对待他——简直就拿他当狗待。总有一天她会后悔的。到那时,她后悔也来不及了。他要是能暂时地死一会儿,那该有多好啊!

年青人天性轻松愉快,想长久地压抑它是不可能的。不久,汤姆不知不觉地关心起眼前的现实来。他要是调头就走,人不知鬼不觉地消失了,那会有什么后果呢?他要是到海外无人知晓的地方去,一去不回,那又怎样呢?而她又作何感想呢?当小丑的念头又在他脑海闪现,结果弄得他很难受。试想一想在汤姆的潜意识中,他已隐隐约约来到了神圣而浪漫的国度,这哪能容得下小丑的那些打诨插科、花花绿绿的紧身衣之类的东西。得了,他更愿意当一名士兵,待到伤痕累累,名噪天下时再返归故里。这不行,最好还是与印第安人为伍,和他们一起捕杀野牛,在崇山峻岭和西部人迹罕至的大平原上作战。等将来当上酋长时再回来。到那时,头上插着羽毛,身上涂满吓人的花纹,再找一个夏日清晨,乘大家昏昏欲睡的时候,昂首阔步,大模大样地走进主日学校并发出令人毛骨悚然的呐喊声,好让同伴们按捺不住羡慕之情,看得两眼直发呆。这不还不够劲,还有比这更神气的事情,他要去当海盗!对,就这样!现在,未来就在眼前并闪烁着异光。瞧吧,他将闻名天下,令闻者颤栗。他将乘坐那条长长的黑色“风暴神”号快艇,船头插上吓人的旗帜,披风斩浪航行在浪花翻滚的大海上,这该有多么威风!等到了名声齐天,那时候,你再瞧他回来的样子吧!他将突然出现在乡里故居,昂首阔步地走进教堂。他脸色黝黑,一副饱经风霜的样子。只见他上身穿件黑色绒布紧身衣,下身是条宽大短裤,脚蹬肥大长统靴,还背着大红肩带,腰带上挂着马枪,身边还别了把用损了的短剑。那顶垂边的帽子上飘着翎毛,黑旗迎风招展,上面交叉着骷髅头和白骨。听到别人悄声低语:“这就是海盗汤姆·索亚——西班牙海面上的黑衣侠盗!”汤姆心里一阵又一阵地狂喜。

对,就这么办,他决定这么办:从家里逃走,去过这种生活,并打算第二天早晨就开始行动。因此他必须现在就着手准备。他将带上他所有的家当。他走到近处的一根烂树干旁边,开始用他的巴露折刀在一头开挖起来。不一会儿就传来了空木头的声音。他把手按在那儿,嘴里咕哝着咒语,样子令人难忘:

没有来的,快来!

在这儿的,留下来!

接着他刨去泥土,下面露出一块松木瓦块。他把它拿开,露出一个底和四周是松木瓦块的小宝箱来。小宝箱很精致,里面有一个弹子。汤姆惊讶不已!他迷惑不解地挠着头说:

“嘿,怎么不灵了!”

于是他一气之下扔掉那个弹子,站在那儿沉思。原来他的迷信没有灵验。他和所有的伙伴一向都认为它是万无一失的,可是这次却没有。埋下一个弹子时,你要是念上几句有关的咒语,等两周后再用汤姆刚说过的咒语,去挖弹子,你会发现:原来丢失、散落到各地的弹子都聚到了这里。可是现在,它千真万确地失败了。汤姆的全部信心从根本上发生了动摇。他以前多次听说过的都是成功的例子,根本没听说过哪次不灵验。他百思不得其解,最后认定有妖魔插了一杠子,破了咒语。他觉得这样解释可以让他聊以自慰。于是他在周围找到一个小沙堆,沙堆中间有一个漏斗形凹陷处。他扑到地上,嘴紧贴着凹陷处喊道:

“小甲虫,小甲虫,告诉我这究竟是怎么回事!小甲虫,小甲虫,请告诉我这究竟是怎么回事呀!”

沙子开始动起来,一只黑色小甲虫很快钻出来,可是刚一出现,又被吓得缩了回去。

“它不说!我知道了,一定有妖魔在捣鬼。”

他十分清楚和巫婆斗没什么好处,于是他垂头丧气,不得不让了步。但是他忽然又想起他刚才扔掉的那颗石子,何不再把它找回来呢?于是他就边走边耐心地找了起来。可是他没找到。他又回到他的小宝箱旁边,原封不动地站在刚才扔弹子的地方。接着他从口袋里又掏出一个弹子,朝同一个方向扔去,嘴里还说道:

“老兄,去找你的兄弟吧!”

弹子落地后,他走过去找起来。但是弹子可能扔得不是太近就是太远,因此他又试了两回。最后一次成功了。两个弹子相距不到一英尺。

就在这时,树林里绿色的林荫道上隐隐约约传来一声锡皮玩具喇叭声。汤姆迅速地脱掉上衣和裤子,把背带改成腰带,拨开朽木后面的灌木丛,找出一副简陋的弓箭,一把木片的剑和一只锡皮喇叭。片刻之间他就抓着这些东西,赤着脚,敝着怀,跳出去了。他很快在一颗大榆树底下停下来,也吹了一声喇叭作为回应,然后踮着脚警觉地东张张西望望,他谨慎地——对想象中的同伴说:

“稳住,好汉们!听号声再行动。”

这时,乔·哈帕出现了。和汤姆一样,他精心装备,轻装上阵。

汤姆喊道:

“站住!来者何人,来经许可,竟敢闯进谢伍德森林?”

“我乃皇家卫士戈次勃恩的至友,走遍天下,所向无阻。

你是何人,竟敢——竟敢……”

“竟敢口出狂言,”汤姆说。他是在提示哈帕,因为他们全凭记忆,在背这些话。

“你是何人,竟敢口出狂言?”

“我吗?我乃罗宾汉是也,你这匹夫马上就会知道我的厉害。”

“这么说来,你真的是那位名扬四海的绿林好汉喽?我正想与你较量较量,看看这林中乐士归谁所有。接招!”

他们各持一把木片的剑,把身上多余的东西都扔到地上,两人脚对脚呈对峙状站立,开始了一场“两上两下”的酣战。

汤姆说:

“听着,你要是懂得剑法,我们就痛痛快快地比一比吧!”

于是他们就“痛痛快快地比一比”了,结果比得两个人气喘吁吁、汗流浃背。后来汤姆嚷道:

“倒下!倒下!你怎么不倒下呀?”

“我不干!你自己怎么不倒下呀?你招架不住了。”

“倒不倒没什么关系。可书上说我不能倒下去,书上还说‘接着反手一剑,他就把可怜的戈次勃恩的至友刺死了。’,你应该转过身去,让我一剑刺中你的后背才对。”

乔没法子,只好转过身去,挨了重重的一刺,倒在地上。“听着,”乔从地上爬起来说,“你得让我把你杀掉,那才公平。”

“嘿,那怎么行呢?书上又没这么说。”

“得了,你真他妈的太小气了——拉倒吧。”

“喂,我说乔,你可以扮演达克修士或是磨坊主的儿子马奇,拿一根铁头木棍打我一顿,或者我来扮诺丁汉的行政司法官,你扮一会儿罗宾汉,把我杀死也行。”

这主意倒令人满意,于是他们就这么办了。后来汤姆又扮演了起初的角色罗宾汉,他让那个背信弃义的尼姑给害了。由于伤口没有得到照顾,他失血太多,耗尽了精力。最后乔扮演了一伙绿林好汉,哭哭啼啼,悲伤地拖着他前进,把他的弓递到他那双软弱无力的手里,汤姆就说了:

“箭落之地,绿林成荫,可怜的罗宾汉葬那里。”说完他射出那支箭,身体往后一仰,准备倒地而死,可偏巧倒在有刺的草上。他猛地跳起来,那活蹦乱跳的样子简直不像是在装死。

两个孩子穿戴好衣帽,把他们的行头藏起来就走了,他们很伤心现在已经没有绿林好汉了,很想知道现代文明中有什么可以弥补这一缺陷。他们说宁可在谢伍德森林里当一年绿林好汉,也不愿意当一辈子的美国总统。

 

 

第九章    

那天晚上9点半钟,汤姆和希德就像平常一样被吩咐上床睡觉,他们做完祷告,希德很快就睡着了。汤姆没有睡着,他躺在床上,不耐烦地等着。他似乎觉得天快要亮时,才听到钟敲了十下!这太令人失望了。他很想顺应神经的要求,翻翻身,动一动,可是他害怕吵醒希德,于是他一动不动地躺着,两眼直愣愣地盯着黑咕隆咚的夜空。万籁俱寂,阴森可怕。后来在那一片寂静中,有一点小小的,几乎听不出来的动静渐渐地大了起来。只听到钟摆滴嗒滴嗒在响。那些老屋的屋梁也神秘地发出裂开似的声响。楼梯也隐隐约约,吱吱嘎嘎在响。很明显是鬼怪们在四处活动了。从波莉姨妈卧室里传来一阵匀称的、沉闷的鼾声。这时一只蟋蟀开始发出一阵令人心烦的唧唧的叫声,而人们却根本弄不清楚它在什么地方。接着床头的墙里有一只小蛀虫发出一阵阴森可怕的踢嗒声,这声音使汤姆吓得心惊胆跳——这似乎意味着某个人的日子不多了。然后远处有一只狗嗥叫起来,这叫声在夜晚的上空震荡,与远处的隐隐约约传来的狗叫声相呼应着。汤姆简直难受极了。最后他认定时间已经停住了,永恒已经开始了。他不由自主地打起盹来,钟敲了十一下,但是他没有听见。后来在他迷迷糊糊、似睡非睡的状态中,从外面传来一阵非常凄惨的猫儿叫春的声音。一个邻居打开窗户,声音惊动了他。一声“滚!你这瘟猫!”的骂声和一只空瓶子砸到他的姨妈的木棚小屋上的破碎声使他完全清醒过来,片刻工夫,他便穿带好衣帽,从窗户出来,爬行在屋顶上。他一边爬,一边小心谨慎地“咪呜”了一两次;然后纵身一跳,上了木棚小屋,再从那跳到地上。哈克贝利·费恩早已等候在那里,手里还拿着他那只死猫。接着两个孩子一起消失在黑暗中。半小时之后,他俩就穿行在坟地里的深草丛中。

这是一个西部的老式的坟地,座落在离村子大约一英里的半山上。坟地周围有一道歪歪斜斜的木板栅栏,有些地方往里倒,有的地方往外斜,总之,没有一个地方是笔直的。整片墓地杂草丛生,所有的旧坟都塌陷下去,坟上连一块墓碑都没有。圆顶的、虫蛀的木牌子无依无靠,歪歪倒倒地插在坟墓上。这些牌子上曾经写有“纪念某某”之类的字样,即使现在有亮光,大多数已无法再辨认出来。

一阵微风吹过树林,发出萧瑟声响,汤姆担心这可能是死鬼们在抱怨有人来打搅了他们。两个孩子很少说话,就是说也只敢悄悄地说,因为此时此地,到处是一片肃穆和寂静,令人压抑。他们找到了要找的那座新隆起的坟。在离坟几英尺内的地方,有三棵大榆树长在一起,于是他们就躲在那里。

他们静静地等了似乎很长一段时间,除了远处猫头鹰的叫声外,周围是一片死寂。汤姆被闷得受不住了,他必须打破沉默开口谈点话,他低声问道:

“哈奇,你相信死人愿意我们到这儿来吗?”

哈克贝利低声说:

“我问谁呢?这里肃静得令人害怕,是不是?”

“是啊。”

有好一阵子他俩没作声,各自都在心里想着这件事。之后汤姆又悄悄地说:

“喂,我说哈奇——你知道霍斯·威廉斯听见我们讲话吗?”

“那当然喽。至少他的阴魂能听见。”

汤姆停了一会才说:

“我刚才提他时,要是带上‘先生’二字就好了。不过我从来没有不尊敬他。别人都叫他霍斯。”

“汤姆,议论死人时要特别、特别小心才对。”

这句话犹如一盆冷水让汤姆扫兴,因此谈话就中断了。

过了一会,汤姆抓住哈克的胳膊说道:“嘘!”

“怎么啦,汤姆?”他们俩紧紧靠在一起,心嘣嘣直跳。

“嘘!又来了!你没有听见吗?”

“我——”

“听!现在听见了吧。”

“哦,天啊,汤姆,他们来了,他们来了,真的!我们怎么办啊?”

“我不知道。你想他们会看见我们吗?”

“哦,汤姆,他们像猫一样,晚上也能看见东西。我要是不来就好了。”

“啊,不要害怕。我想他们不会来找我们的麻烦。我们又没惹他们。我们只要一动也不动,他们也许根本不会发现我们。”

“汤姆,我是想不动。可是天啊,我浑身直发抖哩。”

“听!”

两个孩子凑得很近,低着头,屏住呼吸。这时从远远的坟地那边传来一阵低沉的说话声。

“瞧!瞧那!”汤姆小声说,“那是什么?”

“是鬼火。哦,汤姆,这太吓人了。”

黑暗中,模模糊糊有几个影子走过来,一盏老式洋铁灯笼摇来晃去,地上被照得光点斑斑。哈克马上战战兢兢地说:

“肯定是鬼来了,我的老天爷呀,一共有三个!汤姆,我们死定了!你还能祷告吗?”

“我来试试,不过你别怕。他们不会害我们的。现在我躺下睡觉,我——”’

“嘘!”

“是什么,哈克?”

“是人!至少有一个是人。那是莫夫·波特老头的声音。”

“不——那不是他的声音。”

“我敢打赌我没搞错,你得绝对保持安静。他没那么灵,不会看见我们的。可能又和往常一样喝醉了——这个该死无用的老东西!”

“好吧,我一定保持安静。现在他们不走了。找不到他们了。这会儿他们又来了。现在他们来劲了。又泄气了。又来劲了。劲头十足!他们这回找对了方向。喂,哈克,我听出了另一个人的声音,那是印第安·乔。”

“不错,是那个杀人不眨眼的杂种!我倒情愿他们都是鬼,鬼都比他们好得多。他们到这能打什么坏主意呢?

两个孩子全都止住,不再低语。这时那三个人来到坟边,站立的地方离孩子们藏身之处还不到几英尺远。

“到了。”第三个人说,提灯的人举起灯笼,灯光下现出的是年轻的医生鲁宾逊的面孔。”

波特和印第安·乔推着一个手推车,车上有一根绳子和两把铁锹。他们把车上的东西卸下来,开始挖墓。医生把灯笼放在坟头上,走到榆树下,背靠着一棵坐下来。树离得很近,两个孩子伸手就能碰到他。

“挖快点,伙计们!”他低声说,“月亮随时都可能出来。”

他们粗着嗓音应了一声后继续挖掘着。有一段时间,只能听到他们一锹一锹抛泥土和石子所发出的嚓嚓声响。那声音非常单调刺耳。后来有一把铁锹碰到了棺材,发出了低沉的木头声音。一两分钟后,那两个人就把棺材抬出来放在地上了。他们用铁锹撬开棺盖,把尸体弄出来,随便掀到地上。月亮从云朵后面钻出来,照着尸体那张苍白的脸。他们把车准备好,将尸体放上去,还盖上毯子,用绳子捆好它。波特拿出一把大弹簧刀,割断车上垂下来的绳头,说:

“医生,这该死的东西现在弄好了。再拿五块钱,要不然就别弄走它。”

“对,讲得对!”印第安·乔说。

“喂,我说,这是什么意思?”医生问道。“按你们要求,我事先已经给过你们钱了。”

“不错,不过还远不止这些。”印第安·乔边说边走到已经站了起来的医生面前。“五年前的一个晚上,我到你父亲的厨房讨点吃的,你把我给赶了出来,你还说我到厨房去没什么好事;打那时起,我发誓:就是花上一百年的功夫,我也要摆平你。你父亲因我是盲流而将我关进牢房。你想我会善罢甘休吗?印第安人的血也不是白流的,现在你落到我手里,你得为此付出代价。”

说到这,他已经开始在医生面前挥舞着拳头来威胁他。医生突然猛击一拳,将这个恶棍打翻在地,波特扔掉刀,大声喊道:“嘿,你竟敢打我的朋友!”紧接着,他和医生扭打在一起。两个人拼命打起来,脚踩着地上的草,踢得泥土飞扬。印第安·乔迅速地从地上爬起来,眼里燃烧着怒火,抓起波特扔在地上的那把刀,像猫似的,弯着腰悄悄地在两个打架的人周围转来转去,寻找着机会。突然医生猛地把对手摔开,抓起威廉斯坟上那块重重的墓碑,一下子把波特打倒在地。与此同时,这个杂种乘机把刀子一下子全捅进了医生的胸膛。医生晃了晃就倒下去,身体搭在波特身上。波特被弄得满身都是血。这时乌云遮住了这可怕的惨相,那两个吓坏了的孩子在黑暗中连忙跑掉了。

不久,云层退去,月亮又露出了面,印第安·乔站在那两个人身旁,凝视着他们。医生咕咕哝哝地讲了些什么话,长长地喘了一两声气,然后就安静地死去了。那个杂种还说:

“那笔帐就算扯平了——你这该死的家伙。”

接着他又搜去尸体身上的东西,然后他将那把杀人的刀放在波特张开的石手里,坐上了撬开的棺材。三——四——五分钟过去了,这时波特才开始动弹,并且呻吟起来。他的手握住了那把刀。他举起刀来瞥了一眼,随即打了个冷颤,刀落到了地上。接着他坐起身来,推开压着他的尸体,然后盯着它看了一会,又往周围望了望,心里感到迷惑不解。他的目光碰到了乔的目光。

“天啊,这是怎么回事,乔?”他说。

“这事糟糕透了,”乔动也没动地说,“你干吗要这样干?”

“我!我可没干这事。”

“听着!这你怎么能赖掉呢。”

波特吓得直抖,脸色变得煞白。

“我认为我会醒酒的,今晚我本不想喝酒,可是现在脑子里还是糊里糊涂的,比我们来这儿的时候还厉害。我现在昏昏沉沉,几乎回忆不起来任何事情。告诉我,乔,伙计,说老实话,是我干的吗?乔,我根本不想那样干。天地良心,我根本不想那样干,乔,告诉我这是怎么回事?乔?哦,这太可怕了——他这么年轻有为,前途远大。”

“嘿,就是你俩扭打起来了,他用墓碑牌子砸了你一下,你就被砸叭下了。接着你爬起来,晃晃悠悠地站不稳,就这样,你一把夺过这把刀,一下子捅进他的身体。这时候他又狠命地给了你一击,于是你就躺在这儿,像死过去一样,人事不省,一直躺到现在。”

“啊,我一点也不知道我都干了些什么。要是我当时清醒的话,我情愿马上就死掉。我想这都是因为威士忌在作怪,当时又很冲动。乔,我从前还没有用过凶器。我跟人打过架,可是从来没使过凶器。这一点人们都知道。乔,这事你可别说出去!乔,你说你不会说出去,这才够意思啊。乔,我向来都喜欢你,也总是站在你一边的。你难道忘记了吗?乔,你不会讲出去的,对不对?”于是这个可怜的家伙,双手合掌,祈求地跪倒在那个残忍的凶手面前。

“对。莫夫·波特,你一向待我不错,我不会对不起你。怎么样,我这样说算是公平合理吧。”

“啊,乔,你真是慈悲心肠。我要祝福你一辈子。”波特开始哭起来。

“哦,得了,不要再说了。现在不是哭鼻子的时候。你从那边走,现在就动身,别留下任何脚印。”

波特开始还是小跑,很快就大跑起来。那个杂种站在那儿,看着他的背影,自言自语地咕哝道:“他挨了一击,酒也没醒,瞧他那样,八成想不起来这把刀了。就算想他起来,他已经跑出去有十里八里的了。他一个人是不敢再回到这里来取刀的——这个胆小鬼。”

两三分钟后,只有月光照着那个被害的人,那个用毯子裹着的尸体,那个没有盖上盖子的棺材,还有那座挖开的坟墓。一切又恢复了平静。

 

 

第十章   

两个孩子由于恐惧,一言不发,只顾朝着村庄飞快地跑啊跑。他们时不时地边跑边回头看,十分担心被人跟踪。路上遇到的每个树桩,对他俩来说都好比是一个人,一个对手,吓得他们连气都不敢喘。在经过村庄附近的农舍时,受惊的狗一声狂叫更吓得他俩腿上生风。

“乘还没有累垮,要是一口气能跑到老制革厂那儿就好了!”上气不接下气的汤姆低语道,“我实在跑不了多久了。”

哈克贝利也喘得很厉害,这清楚地表明他俩现在处境相同。两个孩子眼睛直盯着希望中的目的地,一心一意拚命往那儿跑去。渐渐地他俩跑近了。后来,他们肩并肩冲进敞开的大门,精疲力尽地扑到在里边的阴暗处,感到舒坦极了。过了一会,他们平静了下来,汤姆低声说:

“哈克贝利,你想这事结果会怎么样?”

“要是鲁宾逊医生死了,我想就要用绞刑。”

“真的吗?”

“那还用说,我知道,汤姆。”

汤姆略作思忖,然后说:

“那谁去揭发呢?是我们吗?”

“你扯到哪里去了,万一事情不顺当,印第安·乔没上绞架,那该怎么办?他迟早会要我们的命,这一点肯定无疑。”

“哈克,我心里想得正是这事。”

“要揭发就让莫夫·波特那个傻瓜去干吧!他总是喝得醉醺醺的。”

汤姆没吱声,还在想着。片刻后他低声说:

“哈克,莫夫·波特不知道出事了,他怎么能告发呢?”

“他怎么不知道出事了?”

“印第安·乔动手的时候,他刚挨了一击,你想他还能看见什么?还能知道什么吗?

“真有你的,不错,是这样,汤姆。”

“另外,你再想一想,那一击说不定要了他的命!”

“不,这不可能,汤姆。他当时喝酒了,我能看得出,更何况他经常喝酒。我爸就是这样一个人,要是他喝足了,你就是搬座教堂压在他头上休想惊动他。他自己也是这么说的。所以莫夫·波特当然也不例外喽。但话说回来,要是你绝对没喝酒,那一击说不定会要了你的命,我也不太能说清楚。”

汤姆又沉思默想了一会后说:

“哈奇,你肯定不说出去吗?”

“汤姆,我们必须一字不露才行,这你也明白。要是那个鬼印第安·乔没被绞死而我们又走漏了风声,那他会像淹两只小猫一样把我俩给淹死。好了,听着,汤姆,现在我们彼此发誓——我们必须这样做——绝不走漏半点风声。”

“我同意。这再好不过了。好,请举起手发誓:我们……”

“哦,不不不,光举手发誓不行。这只能用于像小姐们发誓那样的小事情。她们前面发誓,后面就忘得一干二净,一气之下就把你给卖了。像我们今天这样的大事情,光口头发誓还不算,要写下来,喋血为盟。”

听他这么一说,汤姆佩服得五体投地。时值夜色深沉,四周漆黑,令人胆战心惊。此时、此地、此景正合这种气氛的拍。他借着月光从地上捡起一块干净的松木板,又从口袋里掏出一小截“红砚石”,然后对着月光划了起来。他向下落笔又慢又重,向上抬笔又轻又快。他一边写,一边嘴动个不停,好像在帮着用劲。最后费了九牛二虎之力,他才划成了下面几句:

  哈克·费恩和汤姆·索亚对天盟誓:我们将恪守秘密,若有半点私心假意泄密,愿当场倒毙,尸骨无存。

对汤姆流利的书写、响亮的内容,哈克贝利心悦诚服。他立即从衣服领子上拿下一枚别针,对着自己就要放血,这时汤姆说:

“别忙!这样不行。别针是铜做的,上面可能有铜绿。”

“那是什么东西?”

“不管是什么东西,反正上面有毒。要不然,你现在就吞点下肚,有你好看的。”

于是汤姆拿出一根针,去掉了线。两个孩子各自往大拇指上戳了一下,然后挤出两滴血来。接着他们又挤了数次,汤姆马上用小指蘸血写下了自己姓名的首字母。他又教哈克写好H和F,到此为止,宣誓结束。他们念着咒语,举行了干巴巴的埋葬仪式,靠墙将松木板埋了。他们认为连同埋葬的还有那锁住他们口舌的枷锁,因此钥匙也用不着了。

这时,这幢破楼的另一头,有个人影鬼鬼祟祟地从缺口处溜进来,可是他俩却没有发觉。

“汤姆,”哈克贝利小声问道,“这样一来,我们将不会泄密,永远都不会,是吗?”

“那还用说。不管发生了什么,千变万变我们得保守秘密这条不能变,否则我们将‘当场倒毙’,这你也晓得。”

“对,我想这没错。”

他们又小声嘀咕了一阵子。没多久,外面传来了狗叫声,那声音又长又凄凉,离他们不到十英尺远。两个孩子一阵害怕,突然紧紧地抱在一起。

“它在哭嗥我们俩人中哪一个?”哈克贝利喘着气问道。

“我不知道,你从缝里往外瞅瞅。快点!”

“我不干,你自己来看,汤姆!”

“我不能——我不能去看,哈克!”

“求你了,汤姆。它又叫起来了!”

“哦,我的老天爷,谢天谢地!”汤姆小声说,“我听得出它的声音,原来是布尔·哈宾逊①。”

① 如果哈宾逊先生有个奴仆叫布尔的话,汤姆就叫他“哈宾逊的布尔”;可是若是他的儿子或狗叫布尔,那汤姆就叫他(它)布尔·哈宾逊。

“哦,这下可好了,汤姆,我差点被吓死了,我以为那是只野狗呐。”

那只狗又嗥起来,孩子们的心情再次低落下来。

“哦,我的天那!那家伙决不是布尔·哈宾逊!”哈克贝利悄声说,“去瞅瞅,汤姆!”汤姆吓得直发抖,但还是走过去,贴着裂逢往外看。“哦,哈克,那果然是只野狗!”汤姆话低得几乎让人听不见。

“快点,汤姆,快点,那狗是在嗥谁?”

“哈克,它一定是嗥我们吧,谁让我俩抱在一起呢。”

“唉,汤姆,我想我俩死定了。我也知道我的下场如何,谁叫我平时干了那么多坏事呢。”

“真是一团糟,都怪我逃学旷课,又不听话。我要是肯干的话,我也会像希德那样当个表现好的孩子,可是我却不肯干。不过,这次要是饶了我的话,我敢打赌我一定在主日学校里好好干!”说着说着,汤姆开始有点抽鼻子了。“你还算坏吗?”哈克贝利已跟着抽起鼻子来。“汤姆·索亚,你和我相比,真是一个天上,一个地下。哦,我的老天爷呀,老天爷呀,我要是有一半如你就好了。”

汤姆哽咽着低声说:

“瞧,哈奇,你瞧,它现在是背对我们的。”

哈克心里高兴,看了看后说:

“不错,是背对着我们,刚才也是这样的吗?”

“是的,可我傻乎乎的,根本没往上想。哦,你瞧这太棒了。那么这回它是嗥谁的呢?”

狗不嗥了,汤姆警觉地侧耳听着。

“嘘!那是什么声音?”他小声说。

“像——像是猪发出的声音。不,汤姆,是人的打呼声。”

“对,是打呼声!哈克,你听在什么地方?”

“我断定在那头。不过,至少听起来呼声是从那头传过来的。我老爸过去有时和猪一起睡在那头,要是他打起呼来,那可不得了,简直是如雷灌耳。再说,我估计他不会再回到这个镇上了。”

两个孩子再次想去碰碰运气,看能否逃走。

“哈奇,要是我打头阵,你敢跟我一块去看看吗?”

“我不太想去。汤姆,万一那是印第安·乔呢!”

汤姆刚一动摇,可还是抵挡不住强烈的诱惑。两人决定试试看,他们达成默契:只要呼声一停,他俩就溜之大吉。于是,他俩一前一后,踮着脚尖,偷偷走过去。在离那人不到五步远的地方,汤姆啪地一声,踩断了一根树枝。那人哼哼着稍微动了一下身子,脸暴露在月光下,原来是莫夫·波特。刚才,莫夫·波特动弹时,两个孩子的心一下子提到了嗓子眼,以为这下是跑不成了,但现在恐惧过去了。他俩踮着脚,溜到了破烂的挡风木板墙外边,没走多远就道了别分了手。夜空中又传来了那又长又凄凉的狗叫声。他们转身看见那条陌生的狗在离躺着的莫夫·波特不到几英尺的地方,脸冲着他,正仰天长嗥。

“哦,我的妈呀,那狗嗥的原来是他呀!”

两个孩子不约而同地惊呼道。

“喂,我说汤姆,听他们讲,大约两个星期前,有只野狗半夜围着约翰尼·米勒家叫;同一天晚上,还飞来一只夜鹰落在栏杆上叫个不停,不过并没有谁死啊。”

“嗯,这我知道,人是没有死,但是格霍丝·米勒不正是在紧接着的星期六那天摔倒在厨房的火里,被烧得很惨吗?”

“这没错,可她毕竟还活着,并且正在康复呐。”

“那我就没什么好说的喽,你等着瞧吧!和莫夫·波特一样,她就要完了,这是那些黑鬼说的。哈克,他们对这类事情可灵着呢。”

分手的时候,他们还在想这个问题。等汤姆从窗户爬进卧室时,天已经快亮了。他轻手轻脚脱去衣服,睡下的时候,庆幸自己出去没被人发觉。但他却没发现轻轻打着呼声的希德没睡着,而且醒了已有一个小时。

汤姆醒来后发现希德已穿戴完毕走了。天已大亮,寝室里又没有人,一看便知时候不早了。汤姆感到很吃惊——为什么今天没人叫他呢?要是往日的话,他们非盯着他起来不可。想到这,他觉得情况有点不妙。不到五分钟,他就穿好衣服到了楼下,感到浑身不对劲,懒洋洋的。全家人已吃完了早饭,但仍然坐在餐桌旁,没人怪他迟到,也没人瞅他。大家默不作声,显得十分严肃,这让他的心凉了半截。他坐下来,装着愉快的样子,可是谈何容易。大伙既不笑,也不吱声。于是他也只好一声不吭,心情沉重到了极点。

早饭过后,汤姆被姨妈叫到一边,他面带喜色满以为希望就要实现:挨鞭笞。可是姨妈没有打他,而是站在他旁边痛哭起来。她边哭边责怪汤姆怎么能这样让她这把年纪的人伤心呢?然后她说了通气话,既然汤姆不再听她的,那就让他继续这样混下去,自暴自弃直至要了她这条老命为止。这一席话比一千下鞭打更管用,汤姆的心比肉体更加痛楚不安。他大哭起来,一边央求姨妈原谅他,一边一遍又一遍地保证悔过自新。这样姨妈最后饶了他,可他觉得她并没有完全饶恕他,因此心中还是半信半疑。他离去时很伤心,结果都想不起来要报复希德这件事,可是希德却多此一举:快速从后门溜掉了。汤姆满脸愁容,闷闷不乐地来到学校。他和乔·哈帕一起,因为头一天逃学的事情被鞭笞了一顿。在挨鞭笞时,他一副忧心仲仲的样子,根本不把鞭笞这类小事情放在眼里。之后,他走到位子上坐下来,两手托腮放在桌子上,一副痛苦的样子,目不转睛地盯着墙直发愣。他的肘部压在什么硬东西上,过了好一段时间,他才难过地慢慢移动了下肘部,叹息着拿起那样东西。东西包在纸里,他打开纸包,接着重重地长叹一声,原来纸包里包着他的那个铜把手!这一下犹如雪上加霜,汤姆彻底地崩溃了。

 

       



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