TOM SAWYER, DETECTIVE by MARK TWAIN
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TOM SAWYER, DETECTIVE
CHAPTER I. AN INVITATION FOR TOM AND HUCK
[Footnote: Strange as the incidents of this story are,
They are not inventions, but facts – even to the public
Confession of the accused. I take them from an old-time
Swedish criminal trial, change the actors, and transfer
The scenes to America. I have added some details,
But only a couple of them are important ones. – M. T.]
WELL, it was the next spring after me and Tom Sawyer
Set our old nigger Jim free, the time he was chained up
For a runaway slave down there on Tom’s uncle Silas’s farm
In Arkansaw. The frost was working out of the ground,
And out of the air, too, and it was getting closer and
Closer onto barefoot time every day; and next it would be
Marble time, and next mumbletypeg, and next tops and hoops,
And next kites, and then right away it would be summer
And going in a-swimming. It just makes a boy homesick
To look ahead like that and see how far off summer is.
Yes, and it sets him to sighing and saddening around,
And there’s something the matter with him, he don’t know what.
But anyway, he gets out by himself and mopes and thinks;
And mostly he hunts for a lonesome place high up on the
Hill in the edge of the woods, and sets there and looks
Away off on the big Mississippi down there a-reaching
Miles and miles around the points where the timber looks
Smoky and dim it’s so far off and still, and everything’s
So solemn it seems like everybody you’ve loved is dead
And gone, and you ‘most wish you was dead and gone too,
And done with it all.
Don’t you know what that is? It’s spring fever.
That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it,
You want –
oh, you don’t quite know what it is you DO want,
But it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
It seems to you that mainly what you want is to get away;
Get away from the same old tedious things you’re so used
To seeing and so tired of, and set something new.
That is the idea; you want to go and be a wanderer;
You want to go wandering far away to strange countries
Where everything is mysterious and wonderful and romantic.
And if you can’t do that, you’ll put up with considerable less;
You’ll go anywhere you CAN go, just so as to get away, and be
Thankful of the chance, too.
Well, me and Tom Sawyer had the spring fever, and had
It bad, too; but it warn’t any use to think about Tom
Trying to get away, because, as he said, his Aunt Polly
Wouldn’t let him quit school and go traipsing off somers
Wasting time; so we was pretty blue. We was setting on
The front steps one day about sundown talking this way,
When out comes his aunt Polly with a letter in her hand
“Tom, I reckon you’ve got to pack up and go down
To Arkansaw – your aunt Sally wants you.”
I ‘most jumped out of my skin for joy. I reckoned Tom
Would fly at his aunt and hug her head off; but if you
Believe me he set there like a rock, and never said a word.
It made me fit to cry to see him act so foolish, with such
A noble chance as this opening up. Why, we might lose it
If he didn’t speak up and show he was thankful and grateful.
But he set there and studied and studied till I was
That distressed I didn’t know what to do; then he says,
Very ca’m, and I could a shot him for it:
“Well,” he says, “I’m right down sorry, Aunt Polly,
But I reckon I got to be excused – for the present.”
His aunt Polly was knocked so stupid and so mad at the cold