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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 well-nigh 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 brim-full 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 owdacious 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 poor hands still forever, 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! ut 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.

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