The Complete Works of

Mark-Twain    

[http://www.mtwain.com]

 
 
Mark Twain > Adventures Of Tom Sawyer > Chapter XXXII

Adventures Of Tom Sawyer

Chapter XXXII


TUESDAY afternoon came, and waned to the twilight. The village of St.
Petersburg still mourned. The lost children had not been found. Public
prayers had been offered up for them, and many and many a private
prayer that had the petitioner's whole heart in it; but still no good
news came from the cave. The majority of the searchers had given up the
quest and gone back to their daily avocations, saying that it was plain
the children could never be found. Mrs. Thatcher was very ill, and a
great part of the time delirious. People said it was heartbreaking to
hear her call her child, and raise her head and listen a whole minute
at a time, then lay it wearily down again with a moan. Aunt Polly had
drooped into a settled melancholy, and her gray hair had grown almost
white. The village went to its rest on Tuesday night, sad and forlorn.

Away in the middle of the night a wild peal burst from the village
bells, and in a moment the streets were swarming with frantic half-clad
people, who shouted, "Turn out! turn out! they're found! they're
found!" Tin pans and horns were added to the din, the population massed
itself and moved toward the river, met the children coming in an open
carriage drawn by shouting citizens, thronged around it, joined its
homeward march, and swept magnificently up the main street roaring
huzzah after huzzah!

The village was illuminated; nobody went to bed again; it was the
greatest night the little town had ever seen. During the first half-
hour a procession of villagers filed through Judge Thatcher's house,
seized the saved ones and kissed them, squeezed Mrs. Thatcher's hand,
tried to speak but couldn't--and drifted out raining tears all over the
place.

Aunt Polly's happiness was complete, and Mrs. Thatcher's nearly so. It
would be complete, however, as soon as the messenger dispatched with
the great news to the cave should get the word to her husband. Tom lay
upon a sofa with an eager auditory about him and told the history of
the wonderful adventure, putting in many striking additions to adorn it
withal; and closed with a description of how he left Becky and went on
an exploring expedition; how he followed two avenues as far as his kite-
line would reach; how he followed a third to the fullest stretch of the
kite-line, and was about to turn back when he glimpsed a far-off speck
that looked like daylight; dropped the line and groped toward it,
pushed his head and shoulders through a small hole, and saw the broad
Mississippi rolling by! And if it had only happened to be night he
would not have seen that speck of daylight and would not have explored
that passage any more! He told how he went back for Becky and broke the
good news and she told him not to fret her with such stuff, for she was
tired, and knew she was going to die, and wanted to. He described how
he labored with her and convinced her; and how she almost died for joy
when she had groped to where she actually saw the blue speck of
daylight; how he pushed his way out at the hole and then helped her
out; how they sat there and cried for gladness; how some men came along
in a skiff and Tom hailed them and told them their situation and their
famished condition; how the men didn't believe the wild tale at first,
"because," said they, "you are five miles down the river below the
valley the cave is in"--then took them aboard, rowed to a house, gave
them supper, made them rest till two or three hours after dark and then
brought them home.

Before day-dawn, Judge Thatcher and the handful of searchers with him
were tracked out, in the cave, by the twine clews they had strung
behind them, and informed of the great news.

Three days and nights of toil and hunger in the cave were not to be
shaken off at once, as Tom and Becky soon discovered. They were
bedridden all of Wednesday and Thursday, and seemed to grow more and
more tired and worn, all the time. Tom got about, a little, on
Thursday, was down-town Friday, and nearly as whole as ever Saturday;
but Becky did not leave her room until Sunday, and then she looked as
if she had passed through a wasting illness.

Tom learned of Huck's sickness and went to see him on Friday, but
could not be admitted to the bedroom; neither could he on Saturday or
Sunday. He was admitted daily after that, but was warned to keep still
about his adventure and introduce no exciting topic. The Widow Douglas
stayed by to see that he obeyed. At home Tom learned of the Cardiff
Hill event; also that the "ragged man's" body had eventually been found
in the river near the ferry-landing; he had been drowned while trying
to escape, perhaps.

About a fortnight after Tom's rescue from the cave, he started off to
visit Huck, who had grown plenty strong enough, now, to hear exciting
talk, and Tom had some that would interest him, he thought. Judge
Thatcher's house was on Tom's way, and he stopped to see Becky. The
Judge and some friends set Tom to talking, and some one asked him
ironically if he wouldn't like to go to the cave again. Tom said he
thought he wouldn't mind it. The Judge said:

"Well, there are others just like you, Tom, I've not the least doubt.
But we have taken care of that. Nobody will get lost in that cave any
more."

"Why?"

"Because I had its big door sheathed with boiler iron two weeks ago,
and triple-locked--and I've got the keys."

Tom turned as white as a sheet.

"What's the matter, boy! Here, run, somebody! Fetch a glass of water!"

The water was brought and thrown into Tom's face.

"Ah, now you're all right. What was the matter with you, Tom?"

"Oh, Judge, Injun Joe's in the cave!"


< Back
Forward >












Index Index

Other Authors Other Authors


Mark Twain. Copyright 2008, mtwain.com
Contact the webmaster
Disclaimer here. Privacy Policy here.