An extract from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

“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 impressive 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 astounding. 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!”