“ Tom! ”
“ Tom! ”
“ What ‘s gone with that male child, I wonder? You TOM! ”
The old lady pulled her spectacles down and looked over them about the room ; so she put them up and looked out under them. She seldom or ne’er looked THROUGH them for so little a thing as a male child ; they were her province brace, the pride of her bosom, and were built for “ manner, ” non service — she could hold seen through a brace of stove-lids merely every bit good. She looked perplexed for a minute, and so said, non ferociously, but still loud plenty for the furniture to hear:
“ Well, I lay if I get keep of you I ‘ll — ”
She did non complete, for by this clip she was flexing down and pluging under the bed with the broom, and so she needed breath to mark the clouts with. She resurrected nil but the cat.
“ I ne’er did see the round of that male child! ”
She went to the unfastened door and stood in it and looked out among the tomato vines and “ jimpson ” weeds that constituted the garden. No Tom. So she lifted up her voice at an angle calculated for distance and shouted:
“ Y-o-u-u Tom! ”
There was a little noise behind her and she turned merely in clip to prehend a little male child by the slack of his traffic circle and collar his flight.
“ There! I might ‘a ‘ idea of that cupboard. What you been making in there? ”
“ Nothing. ”
“ Nothing! Look at your custodies. And look at your oral cavity. What IS that truck? ”
“ I do n’t cognize, aunt. ”
“ Well, I know. It ‘s jam — that ‘s what it is. Forty times I ‘ve said if you did n’t allow that throng entirely I ‘d clamber you. Pass me that switch. ”
The switch hovered in the air — the hazard was despairing —
“ My! Look behind you, aunt! ”
The old lady whirled unit of ammunition, and snatched her skirts out of danger. The chap fled on the blink of an eye, scrambled up the high board-fence, and disappeared over it.
His aunt Polly stood surprised a minute, and so broke into a soft laugh.
“ Hang the male child, ca n’t I ne’er learn anything? Ai n’t he played me fast ones enough like that for me to be looking out for him by this clip? But old saps is the biggest saps there is. Ca n’t learn an old Canis familiaris new fast ones, as the expression is. But my goodness, he ne’er plays them likewise, two yearss, and how is a organic structure to cognize what ‘s coming? He ‘pears to cognize merely how long he can torture me before I get my dander up, and he knows if he can do out to set me off for a minute or do me laugh, it ‘s all down once more and I ca n’t hit him a lick. I ai n’t making my responsibility by that male child, and that ‘s the Lord ‘s truth, goodness knows. Spare the rod and spile the kid, as the Good Book says. I ‘m a puting up wickedness and agony for us both, I know. He ‘s full of the Old Scratch, but laws-a-me! he ‘s my ain dead sister ‘s male child, hapless thing, and I ai n’t got the bosom to flog him, someway. Every clip I let him off, my scruples does ache me so, and every clip I hit him my old bosom most interruptions. Well-a-well, adult male that is born of adult female is of few yearss and full of problem, as the Scripture says, and I reckon it ‘s so. He ‘ll play hookey this eventide, * and [ * Southwestern for “ afternoon ” ] I ‘ll merely be obleeged to do him work, to-morrow, to penalize him. It ‘s mightily difficult to do him work Saturdays, when all the male childs is holding vacation, but he hates work more than he hates anything else, and I ‘ve GOT to make some of my responsibility by him, or I ‘ll be the ruination of the kid. ”
Tom did play hookey, and he had a really good clip. He got back place hardly in season to assist Jim, the little coloured male child, saw next-day ‘s wood and divide the tinders before supper — at least he was at that place in clip to state his escapades to Jim while Jim did three-quarterss of the work. Tom ‘s younger brother ( or instead stepbrother ) Sid was already through with his portion of the work ( picking up french friess ) , for he was a quiet male child, and had no adventuresome, troublesome ways.
While Tom was eating his supper, and stealing sugar as chance offered, Aunt Polly asked him inquiries that were full of craft, and really deep — for she wanted to pin down him into damaging revealments. Like many other simple-hearted psyches, it was her favored amour propre to believe she was endowed with a endowment for dark and cryptic diplomatic negotiations, and she loved to contemplate her most crystalline devices as wonders of low craft. Said she:
“ Tom, it was middling warm in school, war n’t it? ”
“ Yes ‘m. ”
“ Powerful warm, war n’t it? ”
“ Yes ‘m. ”
“ Did n’t you desire to travel in a-swimming, Tom? ”
A spot of a panic shooting through Tom — a touch of uncomfortable intuition. He searched Aunt Polly ‘s face, but it told him nil. So he said:
“ No ‘m — good, non really much. ”
The old lady reached out her manus and felt Tom ‘s shirt, and said:
“ But you ai n’t excessively warm now, though. ” And it flattered her to reflect that she had discovered that the shirt was dry without anybody cognizing that that was what she had in her head. But in malice of her, Tom knew where the air current ballad, now. So he forestalled what might be the following move:
“ Some of us pumped on our caputs — mine ‘s moistness yet. See? ”
Aunt Polly was vexed to believe she had overlooked that spot of circumstantial grounds, and missed a fast one. Then she had a new inspiration:
“ Tom, you did n’t hold to undo your shirt neckband where I sewed it, to pump on your caput, did you? Unbutton your jacket! ”
The problem vanished out of Tom ‘s face. He opened his jacket. His shirt neckband was firmly sewed.
“ Fuss! Well, travel ‘long with you. I ‘d made sure you ‘d played hookey and been a-swimming. But I forgive ye, Tom. I reckon you ‘re a sort of a singed cat, as the expression is — better’n you look. THIS clip. ”
She was half regretful her sagaciousness had miscarried, and half sword lily that Tom had stumbled into obedient behavior for one time.
But Sidney said:
“ Well, now, if I did n’t believe you sewed his neckband with white yarn, but it ‘s black. ”
“ Why, I did run up it with white! Tom! ”
But Tom did non wait for the remainder. As he went out at the door he said:
“ Siddy, I ‘ll cream you for that. ”
In a safe topographic point Tom examined two big acerate leafs which were thrust into the lapels of his jacket, and had thread edge about them — one needle carried white yarn and the other black. He said:
“ She ‘d ne’er noticed if it had n’t been for Sid. Confuse it! sometimes she sews it with white, and sometimes she sews it with black. I wish to geeminy she ‘d lodge to one or t’other — I ca n’t maintain the tally of ’em. But I bet you I ‘ll scat Sid for that. I ‘ll larn him! ”
He was non the Model Boy of the small town. He knew the theoretical account male child really good though — and loathed him.
Within two proceedingss, or even less, he had forgotten all his problems. Not because his problems were one shred less heavy and acrimonious to him than a adult male ‘s are to a adult male, but because a new and powerful involvement bore them down and drove them out of his head for the clip — merely as work forces ‘s bad lucks are forgotten in the exhilaration of new endeavors. This new involvement was a valued freshness in whistle, which he had merely acquired from a Black, and he was enduring to rehearse it undisturbed. It consisted in a curious bird-like bend, a kind of liquid warble, produced by touching the lingua to the roof of the oral cavity at short intervals in the thick of the music — the reader likely remembers how to make it, if he has of all time been a male child. Diligence and attending shortly gave him the bent of it, and he strode down the street with his oral cavity full of harmoniousness and his psyche full of gratitude. He felt much as an uranologist feels who has discovered a new planet — no uncertainty, every bit far as strong, deep, unalloyed pleasance is concerned, the advantage was with the male child, non the uranologist.
The summer eventides were long. It was non dark, yet. Soon Tom checked his whistling. A alien was before him — a male child a shadiness larger than himself. A new-comer of any age or either sex was an im- pressive wonder in the hapless small moth-eaten small town of St. Petersburg. This male child was good dressed, excessively — good dressed on a week-day. This was merely amazing. His cap was a mincing thing, his close-buttoned bluish fabric traffic circle was new and dapper, and so were his Pantaloons. He had shoes on — and it was merely Friday. He even wore a necktie, a bright spot of thread. He had a citified air about him that ate into Tom ‘s vital organs. The more Tom stared at the glorious wonder, the higher he turned up his olfactory organ at his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his ain outfit seemed to him to turn. Neither boy radius. If one moved, the other moved — but merely sidewise, in a circle ; they kept face to face and oculus to oculus all the clip. Finally Tom said:
“ I can cream you! ”
“ I ‘d wish to see you seek it. ”
“ Well, I can make it. ”
“ No you ca n’t, either. ”
“ Yes I can. ”
“ No you ca n’t. ”
“ I can. ”
“ You ca n’t. ”
“ Can! ”
“ Ca n’t! ”
An uncomfortable intermission. Then Tom said:
“ What ‘s your name? ”
“ ‘T is n’t any of your concern, possibly. ”
“ Well I ‘low I ‘ll Make it my concern. ”
“ Well why do n’t you? ”
“ If you say much, I will. ”
“ Much — much — Much. There now. ”
“ Oh, you think you ‘re mighty smart, DO N’T you? I could cream you with one manus tied behind me, if I wanted to. ”
“ Well why do n’t you Make it? You SAY you can make it. ”
“ Well I WILL, if you fool with me. ”
“ Oh yes — I ‘ve seen whole households in the same hole. ”
“ Smarty! You think you ‘re SOME, now, DO N’T you? Oh, what a chapeau! ”
“ You can chunk that hat if you do n’t wish it. I dare you to strike hard it off — and anybody that ‘ll take a daring will suck eggs. ”
“ You ‘re a prevaricator! ”
“ You ‘re another. ”
“ You ‘re a combat prevaricator and das n’t take it up. ”
“ Aw — take a walk! ”
“ Say — if you give me much more of your backtalk I ‘ll take and resile a stone off’n your caput. ”
“ Oh, of COURSE you will. ”
“ Well I WILL. ”
“ Well why do n’t you Make it so? What do you maintain SAYING you will for? Why do n’t you Make it? It ‘s because you ‘re afraid. ”
“ I AI N’T afraid. ”
“ You are. ”
“ I ai n’t. ”
“ You are. ”
Another intermission, and more eying and sidling about each other. Soon they were shoulder to shoulder. Tom said:
“ Get off from here! ”
“ Travel off yourself! ”
“ I wo n’t. ”
“ I wo n’t either. ”
So they stood, each with a pes placed at an angle as a brace, and both jostling with might and chief, and glaring at each other with hatred. But neither could acquire an advantage. After fighting till both were hot and rose-cheeked, each relaxed his strain with alert cautiousness, and Tom said:
“ You ‘re a coward and a whelp. I ‘ll state my large brother on you, and he can thresh you with his small finger, and I ‘ll do him make it, excessively. ”
“ What do I care for your large brother? I ‘ve got a brother that ‘s bigger than he is — and what ‘s more, he can throw him over that fencing, excessively. ” [ Both brothers were fanciful. ]
“ That ‘s a prevarication. ”
“ YOUR stating so do n’t do it so. ”
Tom drew a line in the dust with his large toe, and said:
“ I dare you to step over that, and I ‘ll cream you till you ca n’t stand up. Anybody that ‘ll take a daring will steal sheep. ”
The new male child stepped over quickly, and said:
“ Now you said you ‘d make it, now let ‘s see you make it. ”
“ Do n’t you herd me now ; you better look out. ”
“ Well, you SAID you ‘d make it — why do n’t you make it? ”
“ By chauvinist! for two cents I WILL make it. ”
The new male child took two wide Cus out of his pocket and held them out with derision. Tom struck them to the land. In an instant both male childs were turn overing and toppling in the soil, gripped together like cats ; and for the infinite of a minute they tugged and tore at each other ‘s hair and apparels, punched and scratched each other ‘s nose, and covered themselves with dust and glorification. Soon the confusion took signifier, and through the fog of conflict Tom appeared, seated astride the new male child, and thumping him with his fists. “ Holler ’nuff! ” said he.
The male child merely struggled to liberate himself. He was shouting — chiefly from fury.
“ Holler ’nuff! ” — and the buffeting went on.
At last the alien got out a stifled “ ‘Nuff! ” and Tom let him up and said:
“ Now that ‘ll larn you. Better expression out who you ‘re gulling with following clip. ”
The new male child went off brushing the dust from his apparels, sobbing, snuffling, and on occasion looking back and agitating his caput and endangering what he would make to Tom the “ following clip he caught him out. ” To which Tom responded with mockeries, and started off in high plume, and every bit shortly as his dorsum was turned the new male child snatched up a rock, threw it and hit him between the shoulders and so turned tail and ran like an antelope. Tom chased the treasonist place, and therefore found out where he lived. He so held a place at the gate for some clip, make bolding the enemy to come outside, but the enemy merely made faces at him through the window and declined. At last the enemy ‘s female parent appeared, and called Tom a bad, barbarous, coarse kid, and ordered him off. So he went off ; but he said he “ ‘lowed ” to “ put ” for that male child.
He got home reasonably late that dark, and when he climbed carefully in at the window, he uncovered an ambush, in the individual of his aunt ; and when she saw the province his apparels were in her declaration to turn his Saturday vacation into imprisonment at difficult labour became adamantine in its soundness.