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“Tom, why didn’t you wake me sooner? O, 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-” “O, Tom, you ain’t dying, are you? Don’t, Tom-O, 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 down stairs and said: “O, Aunt Polly, come! Tom’s dying!” “Dying.”
“Yes’m. Don’t wait-come quick!” “Rubbage! I don’t believe it!” But she fled up
stairs, 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?”
“O, auntie, I’m-” “What’s the matter with you-what is the matter with you,
child!” “O, 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. Wellyour 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: “O, 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.
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