Produced by David Widger
THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER BY MARK TWAIN (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
TUESDAY afternoon came, and waned to the twilight. The village of St.Petersburg still mourned. The lost children had not been found. Publicprayers had been offered up for them, and many and many a privateprayer that had the petitioner's whole heart in it; but still no goodnews came from the cave. The majority of the searchers had given up thequest and gone back to their daily avocations, saying that it was plainthe children could never be found. Mrs. Thatcher was very ill, and agreat part of the time delirious. People said it was heartbreaking tohear her call her child, and raise her head and listen a whole minuteat a time, then lay it wearily down again with a moan. Aunt Polly haddrooped into a settled melancholy, and her gray hair had grown almostwhite. 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 villagebells, and in a moment the streets were swarming with frantic half-cladpeople, who shouted, "Turn out! turn out! they're found! they'refound!" Tin pans and horns were added to the din, the population masseditself and moved toward the river, met the children coming in an opencarriage drawn by shouting citizens, thronged around it, joined itshomeward march, and swept magnificently up the main street roaringhuzzah after huzzah!
The village was illuminated; nobody went to bed again; it was thegreatest night the little town had ever seen. During the first half-houra procession of villagers filed through Judge Thatcher's house, seizedthe saved ones and kissed them, squeezed Mrs. Thatcher's hand, tried tospeak but couldn't--and drifted out raining tears all over the place.
Aunt Polly's happiness was complete, and Mrs. Thatcher's nearly so. Itwould be complete, however, as soon as the messenger dispatched withthe great news to the cave should get the word to her husband. Tom layupon a sofa with an eager auditory about him and told the history ofthe wonderful adventure, putting in many striking additions to adorn itwithal; and closed with a description of how he left Becky and went onan exploring expedition; how he followed two avenues as far as hiskite-line would reach; how he followed a third to the fullest stretch ofthe kite-line, and was about to turn back when he glimpsed a far-offspeck that looked like daylight; dropped the line and groped toward it,pushed his head and shoulders through a small hole, and saw the broadMississippi rolling by! And if it had only happened to be night he wouldnot have seen that speck of daylight and would not have explored thatpassage any more! He told how he went back for Becky and broke the goodnews and she told him not to fret her with such stuff, for she wastired, and knew she was going to die, and wanted to. He described how helabored with her and convinced her; and how she almost died for joy whenshe had groped to where she actually saw the blue speck of daylight; howhe pushed his way out at the hole and then helped her out; how they satthere and cried for gladness; how some men came along in a skiff and Tomhailed 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 themrest till two or three hours after dark and then brought them home.
Before day-dawn, Judge Thatcher and the handful of searchers with himwere tracked out, in the cave, by the twine clews they had strungbehind them, and informed of the great news.
Three days and nights of toil and hunger in the cave were not to beshaken off at once, as Tom and Becky soon discovered. They werebedridden all of Wednesday and Thursday, and seemed to grow more andmore tired and worn, all the time. Tom got about, a little, onThursday, was down-town Friday, and nearly as whole as ever Saturday;but Becky did not leave her room until Sunday, and then she looked asif she had passed through a wasting illness.
Tom learned of Huck's sickness and went to see him on Friday, butcould not be admitted to the bedroom; neither could he on Saturday orSunday. He was admitted daily after that, but was warned to keep stillabout his adventure and introduce no exciting topic. The Widow Douglasstayed by to see that he obeyed. At home Tom learned of the CardiffHill event; also that the "ragged man's" body had eventually been foundin the river near the ferry-landing; he had been drowned while tryingto escape, perhaps.
About a fortnight after Tom's rescue from the cave, he started off tovisit Huck, who had grown plenty strong enough, now, to hear excitingtalk, and Tom had some that would interest him, he thought. JudgeThatcher's house was on Tom's way, and he stopped to see Becky. TheJudge and some friends set Tom to talking, and some one asked himironically if he wouldn't like to go to the cave again. Tom said hethought 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 anymore."
"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!"