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won’t. I couldn’t meow that night, becuz auntie was watching me, but I’ll meow
this time. Say, Huck, what’s that?” “Nothing but a tick.” “Where’d you get
him?” “Out in the woods.” “What’ll you take for him?” “I don’t know. I don’t
want to sell him.” “All right. It’s a mighty small tick, anyway.” “O, anybody can
run a tick down that don’t belong to them. I’m satisfied with it. It’s a good
enough tick for me.” “Sho, there’s ticks a plenty. I could have a thousand of ‘em
if I wanted to.”
“Well why don’t you? Becuz you know mighty well you can’t. This is a pretty
early tick, I reckon. It’s the first one I’ve seen this year.” “Say Huck-I’ll give you
my tooth for him.” “Less see it.” Tom got out a bit of paper and carefully
unrolled it. Huckleberry viewed it wistfully. The temptation was very strong. At
last he said: “Is it genuwyne?” Tom lifted his lip and showed the vacancy.
“Well, all right,” said Huckleberry, “it’s a trade.” Tom enclosed the tick in the
percussion-cap box that had lately been the pinchbug’s prison, and the boys
separated, each feeling wealthier than before.
When Tom reached the little isolated frame school-house, he strode in briskly,
with the manner of one who had come with all honest speed. He hung his hat on
a peg and flung himself into his seat with business-like alacrity. The master,
throned on high in his great splint-bottom arm-chair, was dozing, lulled by the
drowsy hum of study. The interruption roused him.
“Thomas Sawyer!” Tom knew that when his name was pronounced in full, it
“Sir!” “Come up here. Now sir, why are you late again, as usual?”
Tom was about to take refuge in a lie, when he saw two long tails of yellow hair
hanging down a back that he recognized by the electric sympathy of love; and
by that form was the only vacant place on the girl’s side of the school-house.
He instantly said: “I STOPPED TO TALK WITH HUCKLEBERRY FINN!” The
master’s pulse stood still, and he stared helplessly. The buzz of study ceased.
The pupils wondered if this fool-hardy boy had lost his mind. The master said:
“You-you did what?” “Stopped to talk with Huckleberry Finn.” There was no
mistaking the words.
“Thomas Sawyer, this is the most astounding confession I have ever listened to.
No mere ferule will answer for this offense. Take off your jacket.” The master’s
arm performed until it was tired and the stock of switches notably diminished.
Then the order followed: “Now sir, go and sit with the girls! And let this be a
warning to you.” The titter that rippled around the room appeared to abash the
boy, but in reality that result was caused rather more by his worshipful awe of
his unknown idol and the dread pleasure that lay in his high good fortune. He
sat down upon the end of the pine bench and the girl hitched herself away from
him with a toss of her head. Nudges and winks and whispers traversed the
room, but Tom sat still, with his arms upon the long, low desk before him, and
seemed to study his book.
By and by attention ceased from him, and the accustomed school murmur rose
upon the dull air once more. Presently the boy began to steal furtive glances at
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