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her wont, in her good-night to Sid and Mary. Sid snuffled a bit and Mary went
off crying with all her heart.
Aunt Polly knelt down and prayed for Tom so touchingly, so appealingly, and
with such measureless love in her words and her old trembling voice, that he
was weltering in tears again, long before she was through.
He had to keep still long after she went to bed, for she kept making
brokenhearted ejaculations from time to time, tossing unrestfully, and turning
over. But at last she was still, only moaning a little in her sleep. Now the boy
stole out, rose gradually by the bedside, shaded the candle-light with his hand,
and stood regarding her. His heart was full of pity for her. He took out his
sycamore scroll and placed it by the candle. But something occurred to him, and
he lingered, considering.
His face lighted with a happy solution of his thought; he put the bark hastily in
his pocket. Then he bent over and kissed the faded lips, and straightway made
his stealthy exit, latching the door behind him.
He threaded his way back to the ferry landing, found nobody at large there, and
walked boldly on board the boat, for he knew she was tenantless except that
there was a watchman, who always turned in and slept like a graven image. He
untied the skiff at the stern, slipped into it, and was soon rowing cautiously up
stream. When he had pulled a mile above the village, he started quartering
across and bent himself stoutly to his work. He hit the landing on the other side
neatly, for this was a familiar bit of work to him. He was moved to capture the
skiff, arguing that it might be considered a ship and therefore legitimate prey for
a pirate, but he knew a thorough search would be made for it and that might
end in revelations. So he stepped ashore and entered the wood.
He sat down and took a long rest, torturing himself meantime to keep awake,
and then started wearily down the home-stretch. The night was far spent. It was
broad daylight before he found himself fairly abreast the island bar. He rested
again until the sun was well up and gilding the great river with its splendor, and
then he plunged into the stream. A little later he paused, dripping, upon the
threshold of the camp, and heard Joe say: “No, Tom’s true-blue, Huck, and he’ll
come back. He won’t desert. He knows that would be a disgrace to a pirate, and
Tom’s too proud for that sort of thing.
He’s up to something or other. Now I wonder what?” “Well, the things is ours,
anyway, ain’t they?” “Pretty near, but not yet, Huck. The writing says they are if
he ain’t back here to breakfast.” “Which he is!” exclaimed Tom, with fine
dramatic effect, stepping grandly into camp.
A sumptuous breakfast of bacon and fish was shortly provided, and as the boys
set to work upon it, Tom recounted (and adorned) his adventures. They were a
vain and boastful company of heroes when the tale was done. Then Tom hid
himself away in a shady nook to sleep till noon, and the other pirates got ready
to fish and explore.
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