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Take time to read.
Reading is the
fountain of wisdom.


(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

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TOM joined the new order of Cadets of Temperance,

being attracted by the showy character of their "regalia."

He promised to abstain from smoking, chewing, and profanity

as long as he remained a member. Now he found out

a new thing -- namely, that to promise not to do a thing

is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go

and do that very thing. Tom soon found himself tormented

with a desire to drink and swear; the desire grew to be so

intense that nothing but the hope of a chance to display

himself in his red sash kept him from withdrawing

from the order. Fourth of July was coming; but he

soon gave that up -- gave it up before he had worn his

shackles over forty-eight hours -- and fixed his hopes

upon old Judge Frazer, justice of the peace, who was

apparently on his deathbed and would have a big

public funeral, since he was so high an official. Dur-

ing three days Tom was deeply concerned about the

Judge's condition and hungry for news of it. Some-

times his hopes ran high -- so high that he would venture

to get out his regalia and practise before the looking-

glass. But the Judge had a most discouraging way

of fluctuating. At last he was pronounced upon the

mend -- and then convalescent. Tom was disgusted;

and felt a sense of injury, too. He handed in his res-

ignation at once -- and that night the Judge suffered a

relapse and died. Tom resolved that he would never

trust a man like that again.

The funeral was a fine thing. The Cadets paraded

in a style calculated to kill the late member with envy.

Tom was a free boy again, however -- there was some-

thing in that. He could drink and swear, now -- but

found to his surprise that he did not want to. The

simple fact that he could, took the desire away, and

the charm of it.

Tom presently wondered to find that his coveted vacation

was beginning to hang a little heavily on his hands.

He attempted a diary -- but nothing happened dur-

ing three days, and so he abandoned it.

The first of all the negro minstrel shows came to

town, and made a sensation. Tom and Joe Harper

got up a band of performers and were happy for two days.

Even the Glorious Fourth was in some sense a failure,

for it rained hard, there was no procession in con-

sequence, and the greatest man in the world (as Tom

supposed), Mr. Benton, an actual United States Senator,

proved an overwhelming disappointment -- for he was

not twenty-five feet high, nor even anywhere in the

neighborhood of it.

A circus came. The boys played circus for three

days afterward in tents made of rag carpeting -- ad-

mission, three pins for boys, two for girls -- and then

circusing was abandoned.

A phrenologist and a mesmerizer came -- and went

again and left the village duller and drearier than ever.

There were some boys-and-girls' parties, but they

were so few and so delightful that they only made the

aching voids between ache the harder.

Becky Thatcher was gone to her Constantinople

home to stay with her parents during vacation -- so

there was no bright side to life anywhere.

The dreadful secret of the murder was a chronic misery.

It was a very cancer for permanency and pain.

Then came the measles.

During two long weeks Tom lay a prisoner, dead

to the world and its happenings. He was very ill, he

was interested in nothing. When he got upon his feet

at last and moved feebly down-town, a melancholy

change had come over everything and every creature.

There had been a "revival," and everybody had "got

religion," not only the adults, but even the boys and

girls. Tom went about, hoping against hope for the

sight of one blessed sinful face, but disappointment

crossed him everywhere. He found Joe Harper study-

ing a Testament, and turned sadly away from the de-

pressing spectacle. He sought Ben Rogers, and found

him visiting the poor with a basket of tracts. He hunted

up Jim Hollis, who called his attention to the precious

blessing of his late measles as a warning. Every boy

he encountered added another ton to his depression;

and when, in desperation, he flew for refuge at last to

the bosom of Huckleberry Finn and was received with

a Scriptural quotation, his heart broke and he crept

home and to bed realizing that he alone of all the town

was lost, forever and forever.

And that night there came on a terrific storm, with

driving rain, awful claps of thunder and blinding sheets

of lightning. He covered his head with the bedclothes

and waited in a horror of suspense for his doom; for he

had not the shadow of a doubt that all this hubbub was

about him. He believed he had taxed the forbearance

of the powers above to the extremity of endurance and

that this was the result. It might have seemed to him

a waste of pomp and ammunition to kill a bug with a

battery of artillery, but there seemed nothing incon-

gruous about the getting up such an expensive thunder-

storm as this to knock the turf from under an insect like


By and by the tempest spent itself and died without

accomplishing its object. The boy's first impulse was

to be grateful, and reform. His second was to wait

-- for there might not be any more storms.

The next day the doctors were back; Tom had re-

lapsed. The three weeks he spent on his back this time

seemed an entire age. When he got abroad at last he

was hardly grateful that he had been spared, remem-

bering how lonely was his estate, how companionless

and forlorn he was. He drifted listlessly down the

street and found Jim Hollis acting as judge in a juvenile

court that was trying a cat for murder, in the presence

of her victim, a bird. He found Joe Harper and Huck

Finn up an alley eating a stolen melon. Poor lads!

they -- like Tom -- had suffered a relapse.



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