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the funereal rustling of dresses as the women gathered to their seats disturbed
the silence there. None could remember when the little church had been so full

There was finally a waiting pause, an expectant dumbness, and then Aunt Polly
entered, followed by Sid and Mary, and they by the Harper family, all in deep
black, and the whole congregation, the old minister as well, rose reverently and
stood, until the mourners were seated in the front pew. There was another
communing silence, broken at intervals by muffled sobs, and then the minister
spread his hands abroad and prayed. A moving hymn was sung, and the text
followed: “I am the Resurrection, and the Life.” As the service proceeded, the
clergyman drew such pictures of the graces, the winning ways and the rare
promise of the lost lads, that every soul there, thinking he recognized these
pictures, felt a pang in remembering that he had persistently blinded himself to
them, always before, and had as persistently seen only faults and flaws in the
poor boys. The minister related many a touching incident in the lives of the
departed, too, which illustrated their sweet, generous natures, and the people
could easily see, now, how noble and beautiful those episodes were, and
remembered with grief that at the time they occurred they had seemed rank
rascalities, well deserving of the cowhide. The congregation became more and
more moved, as the pathetic tale went on, till at last the whole company broke
down and joined the weeping mourners in a chorus of anguished sobs, the
preacher himself giving way to his feelings, and crying in the pulpit.

There was a rustle in the gallery, which nobody noticed; a moment later the
church door creaked; the minister raised his streaming eyes above his
handkerchief, and stood transfixed! First one and then another pair of eyes
followed the minister’s, and then almost with one impulse the congregation rose
and stared while the three dead boys came marching up the aisle, Tom in the
lead, Joe next, and Huck, a ruin of drooping rags, sneaking sheepishly in the
rear! They had been hid in the unused gallery listening to their own funeral

Aunt Polly, Mary and the Harpers threw themselves upon their restored ones,
smothered them with kisses and poured out thanksgivings, while poor Huck
stood abashed and uncomfortable, not knowing exactly what to do or where to
hide from so many unwelcoming eyes. He wavered, and started to slink-away,
but Tom seized him and said: “Aunt Polly, it ain’t fair. Somebody’s got to be
glad to see Huck.” “And so they shall. I’m glad to see him, poor motherless
thing!” And the loving attentions Aunt Polly lavished upon him were the one
thing capable of making him more uncomfortable than he was before.
Suddenly the minister shouted at the top of his voice: “Praise God from whom
all blessings flow-SING!- and put your hearts in it!”

And they did. Old Hundred swelled up with a triumphant burst, and while it
shook the rafters Tom Sawyer the Pirate looked around upon the envying
juveniles about him and confessed in his heart that this was the proudest
moment of his life.

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