Today, I would like to post the 2nd chapter of "The Adventure of Tom Sawyer"
Note: If you haven't read the 1st chapter, it's recommended that you go there first for it'll be somewhat confusing jumping up to this one.
The Fence is WhitewashedSATURDAY morning had come and all the world was bright and fresh. There was a song in every heart, cheerfulness in every face, and a spring in every step.
Tom appeared on the pavement with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He regarded the fence thoughtfully, and his heart was filled with despair. Thirty yards of fence nine feet high! It seemed to him that life was not worth living and that existence was only a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush into the bucket and passed it along the topmost board; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the trifling whitewashed strip with the immensity of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a box discouraged.
Jim came dancing out at the gate with a bucket, singing. Before this, bringing water from the town pump had always been hateful work in Tom's opinion, but now it did not seem so. He remembered that there was company at the pump. Boys and girls were always there, waiting their turns, resting, exchanging playthings, quarreling, fighting and fooling about. He remembered that, although the pump was only a hundred and fifty yards away, Jim never got back with a bucket of water in less than an hour. Even then somebody generally had to go after him.
"I say, Jim," said Tom, "I'll fetch the water if you'll whitewash a bit."
Jim shook his head.
"I can't, Master Tom. The Mistress told me not to stay fooling about with anyone."
"Oh, never mind what she said, Jim. Give me the bucket. I won't be a minute. She won't know."
"Oh, I daren't, Master Tom. She would tear my head off. She would really."
"She never hurts anybody. She just gives them a little slap. And who cares about that? Jim, I'll give you a marble."
Jim was only a human. This temptation was too much for him. He put down the bucket and took the marble. In another minute he was flying down the street with the bucket. Tom was whitewashing energetically, and Aunt Polly was returning to the house with a slipper in her hand and a triumphant gleam in her eye. But Tom's energy did not last. He began to think of the fun he had planned for this day. Soon, he thought, the free boys would come hurrying along on all sorts of delightful trips, and they would laugh at him for having to work. The very though of it burnt him like fire. He got out and examined his worldly wealth. It consisted of bits of toys, marbles and rubbish, and was not enough to buy even half an hour of pure freedom.
At this dark and hopeless moment he had an idea-a glorious idea.
He took the brush and went calmly to work. Presently Ben Rogers, whose mockery he had been dreading most, came in sight. In his hand there was a fine apple. Tom went on whitewashing and pain no attention to him. Ben stared at a moment, and then said:
"Hi! You're in trouble, aren't you!"
There was no answer. Tom regarded his last touch with the eye of an artist. Then he gave his brush another gentle sweep, and inspected the result as before. Ben came nearer. Tom's mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work.
"Hello, Tom!" said Ben. "You have to work, eh?"
"Why, it's you, Ben! I didn't notice you."
"I say, I'm going swimming. Don't you wish you could come? But of course you'd rather work, wouldn't you? Of course you would!
Tom eyed the boy thoughtfully.
"What do you call work?"
"Why, isn't that work?"
Tom filled his brush with whitewash, and answered carelessly:
"Well, perhaps it is, and perhaps it isn't; but it suits Tom Sawyer."
"What! Do you mean to say that you like it?"
The brush continued to move.
"Like it? Well, I don't see why I shouldn't like it. A boy doesn't get a chance every day to whitewash a fence."
Ben had never thought of this before. He took a bite out of his apple. Tom swept his brush artistically to and fro. Then he stepped back to note the effect. He added a touch here and there, and criticized the effect again. Ben was watching every move, and getting more and more interested.
"I say, Tom, let me whitewash a bit," said Ben presently.
Tom considered, and was about to consent; but he changed his mind.
"No! No! You see, Aunt Polly's very particular about this fence. It's facing the street, you know. If it was the back fence I wouldn't mind, and she wouldn't. Yes, she's very particular about this fence. It must be done very carefully. I don't think there's one boy in thousand, perhaps two thousand, who can do it in the way it has to be done."
"Is that so? How interesting! Let me just try, only just a little. I'd let you, if you were me, Tom."
"Ben, I'd like to, really; but Aunt Polly wouldn't like it. Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn't let him. Sid wanted to do it, but she wouldn't Sid. Now, don't you see that I'm responsible? If you started to whitewash this fence, and anything went wrong-----"
"Oh, nonsense; I'll be very careful. Now let me try. I say, I'll give you my apple when I've nearly finished it."
"Well-no, Ben, I mustn't. I'm afraid----"
"I'll give you all of it."
Tom gave up the brush with unwillingness in his face but eagerness in his heart. While Ben worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, ate his apple, and planned the downfall of more innocent victims. Boys arrived frequently. They came to mock, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was tired out, Tom had promised the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite in good repair. When Billy retired, Johnny Miller brought his place for a dead rat and a string to swing with. Thus the work went on, hour after hour.
By the middle of the afternoon, Tom was wealthy. He had, besides the things mentioned above, twelve marbles, a pair of spectacles without glasses, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look trough, a key that would not unlock anything, a piece of chalk, a tin soldier, two tiny frogs, a little cat with only one eye, a brass door-handle, a dog-collar, the handle of a knife, and an old window-frame. He had had a nice, idle time and plenty of company, and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it. If he had not run short of whitewash, he would have stripped every boy in the village of his proudest possessions.
Tom said to himself that life was worth living after all. He had discovered, without knowing it, this great law of human action: in order to make a man or a boy desire a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain