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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
“Set her back on the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow! ch-chow-wow! Chow!”
His right hand, meantime, describing stately circles,- for it was representing a
“Let her go back on the labbord! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ch-chow-chow!” The
left hand began to describe circles.
“Stop the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Stop the labbord! Come ahead on the
stabboard! Stop her! Let your outside turn over slow! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-
owow! 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.
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