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bed-valance. Aunt Polly took it, held it up. Tom winced, and dropped his eyes.
Aunt Polly raised him by the usual handle-his ear-and cracked his head
soundly with her thimble.

“Now, sir, what did you want to treat that poor dumb beast so, for?” “I done it
out of pity for him-because he hadn’t any aunt.” “Hadn’t any aunt!- you
numscull. What has that got to do with it?” “Heaps. Because if he’d a had one
she’d a burnt him out herself! She’d a roasted his bowels out of him ‘thout any
more feeling than if he was a human!” Aunt Polly felt a sudden pang of remorse.
This was putting the thing in a new light; what was cruelty to a cat might be
cruelty to a boy, too. She began to soften; she felt sorry. Her eyes watered a little,
and she put her hand on Tom’s head and said gently: “I was meaning for the
best, Tom. And Tom, it did do you good.” Tom looked up in her face with just a
perceptible twinkle peeping through his gravity: “I know you was meaning for
the best, aunty, and so was I with Peter. It done him good, too. I never see him
get around so since-” “O, go ‘long with you, Tom, before you aggravate me
again. And you try and see if you can’t be a good boy, for once, and you needn’t
take any more medicine.” Tom reached school ahead of time. It was noticed that
this strange thing had been occurring every day latterly. And now, as usual of
late, he hung about the gate of the school-yard instead of playing with his
comrades. He was sick, he said, and he looked it. He tried to seem to be looking
everywhere but whither he really was looking-down the road. Presently Jeff
Thatcher hove in sight, and Tom’s face lighted; he gazed a moment, and then
turned sorrowfully away. When Jeff arrived, Tom accosted him, and “led up”
warily to opportunities for remark about Becky, but the giddy lad never could
see the bait. Tom watched and watched, hoping whenever a frisking frock came
in sight, and hating the owner of it as soon as he saw she was not the right one.
At last frocks ceased to appear, and he dropped hopelessly into the dumps; he
entered the empty school-house and sat down to suffer. Then one more frock
passed in at the gate, and Tom’s heart gave a great bound. The next instant he
was out, and “going on” like an Indian; yelling, laughing, chasing boys, jumping
over the fence at risk of life and limb, throwing hand-springs, standing on his
head-doing all the heroic things he could conceive of, and keeping a furtive eye
out, all the while, to see if Becky Thatcher was noticing. But she seemed to be
unconscious of it all; she never looked. Could it be possible that she was not
aware that he was there? He carried his exploits to her immediate vicinity; came
war-whooping around, snatched a boy’s cap, hurled it to the roof of the school-
house, broke through a group of boys, tumbling them in every direction, and fell
sprawling, himself, under Becky’s nose, almost upsetting her-and she turned,
with her nose in the air, and he heard her say. “Mf! some people think they’re
mighty smart-always showing off!” Tom’s cheeks burned. He gathered himself
up and sneaked off, crushed and crestfallen.

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