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“I only just want to stir him up a little, Joe.” “No, sir, it ain’t fair; you just let him
alone.” “Blame it, I ain’t going to stir him much.” “Let him alone, I tell you!” “I
won’t!” “You shall-he’s on my side of the line.” “Look here, Joe Harper, whose
is that tick?” “I don’t care whose tick he is-he’s on my side of the line, and you
shan’t touch him.” “Well I’ll just bet I will, though. He’s my tick and I’ll do what
I blame please with him, or die!” A tremendous whack came down on Tom’s
shoulders, and its duplicate on Joe’s; and for the space of two minutes the dust
continued to fly from the two jackets and the whole school to enjoy it. The boys
had been too absorbed to notice the hush that had stolen upon the school a while
before when the master came tip-toeing down the room and stood over them. He
had contemplated a good part of the performance before he contributed his bit of
variety to it.

When school broke up at noon, Tom flew to Becky Thatcher, and whispered in
her ear: “Put on your bonnet and let on you’re going home; and when you get to
the corner, give the rest of ‘em the slip, and turn down through the lane and
come back. I’ll go the other way and come it over ‘em the same way.” So the one
went off with one group of scholars, and the other with another. In a little while
the two met at the bottom of the lane, and when they reached the school they
had it all to themselves.

Then they sat together, with a slate before them, and Tom gave Becky the pencil
and held her hand in his, guiding it, and so created another surprising house.
When the interest in art began to wane, the two fell to talking. Tom was
swimming in bliss. He said: “Do you love rats?” “No! I hate them!” “Well, I do
too-live ones. But I mean dead ones, to swing round your head with a string.”
“No, I don’t care for rats much, anyway. What I like, is chewing-gum.” “O, I
should say so! I wish I had some now.” “Do you? I’ve got some. I’ll let you chew
it a while, but you must give it back to me.” That was agreeable, so they chewed
it turn about, and dangled their legs against the bench in excess of contentment.
“Was you ever at a circus?” said Tom.

“Yes, and my pa’s going to take me again some time, if I’m good.” “I been to the
circus three or four times-lots of times. Church ain’t shucks to a circus. There’s
things going on at a circus all the time. I’m going to be a clown in a circus when I
grow up.” “O, are you! That will be nice. They’re so lovely, all spotted up.” “Yes,
that’s so. And they get slathers of money-most a dollar a day, Ben Rogers says.
Say, Becky, was you ever engaged?” “What’s that?” “Why, engaged to be
married.” “No.” “Would you like to?” “I reckon so. I don’t know. What is it
like?” “Like? Why it ain’t like anything. You only just tell a boy you won’t ever
have anybody but him, ever ever ever, and then you kiss and that’s all. Anybody
can do it.” “Kiss? What do you kiss for?” “Why that, you know, is to-well, they
always do that.” “Everybody.”

“Why yes, everybody that’s in love with each other. Do you remember what I
wrote on the slate?” “Ye-yes.” “What was it?” “I shan’t tell you.” “Shall I tell
you?” “Ye-yes-but some other time.” “No, now.” “No, not now-to-morrow.”
“O, no, now. Please Becky-I’ll whisper it, I’ll whisper it ever so easy.” Becky

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