The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: 135th Anniversary Edition

Foreword and Notes by John C. Gerber
Text established by Paul Baender
Series: Mark Twain Library
Copyright Date: 1980
Edition: 3
Pages: 312
Stable URL:
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  • Book Info
    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
    Book Description:

    This landmark anniversary edition contains a selection of Twain's hard-to-find letters and notes expressing his always-engaging opinions on the publication ofTom Sawyer.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94632-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-x)
  3. ILLUSTRATIONS (pp. xi-xii)
  4. FOREWORD (pp. xiii-xiv)
    John C. Gerber

    InThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer,published in 1876, Mark Twain imaginatively recalls his boyhood in the 1840s in a small town on the banks of the Mississippi River. The real town was Hannibal, Missouri, but in the story he calls it St. Petersburg to suggest St. Peter’s place, or heaven. In many ways it does seem like heaven for boys and girls. The weather is always summery. The wooded hills, the river, and the cave are ideal for games and adventures. Tom and his friends get into and out of one scrape after another, and Tom’s desires for fame...

  5. THE WRITING OF Tom Sawyer (pp. xv-xxviii)
  6. PREFACE (pp. xxix-xxx)
  7. CHAPTER I. Y-o-u-u Tom—Aunt Polly Decides Upon her Duty—Tom Practices Music—The Challenge—A Private Entrance (pp. 1-9)


    No answer.


    No answer.

    ʺWhatʹs gone with that boy, I wonder? You TOM!ʺ

    No answer.

    The old lady pulled her spectacles down and looked over them, about the room; then she put them up and looked out under them. She seldom or never lookedthroughthem for so small a thing as a boy; they were her state pair, the pride of her heart, and were built for ʺstyle,ʺ not service;—she could have seen through a pair of stove lids just as well. She looked perplexed for a moment, and then said, not fiercely, but still loud...

  8. CHAPTER II. Strong Temptations—Strategic Movements—The Innocents Beguiled (pp. 10-16)

    Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step. The Locust trees were in bloom and the fragrance of the blossoms filled the air. Cardiff Hill, beyond the village and above it, was green with vegetation, and it lay just far enough away to seem a Delectable Land, dreamy, reposeful and inviting.

    Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of...

  9. CHAPTER III. Tom as a General—Triumph and Reward—Dismal Felicity—Commission and Omission (pp. 17-25)

    Tom presented himself before aunt Polly, who was sitting by an open window in a pleasant rearward apartment which was bed-room, breakfast-room, dining room and library combined. The balmy summer air, the restful quiet, the odor of the flowers, and the drowsing murmur of the bees had had their effect, and she was nodding over her knitting—for she had no company but the cat, and it was asleep in her lap. Her spectacles were propped up on her gray head for safety. She had thought that of course Tom had deserted long ago, and she wondered to see him...

  10. CHAPTER IV. Mental Acrobatics—Attending Sunday-School—The Superintendent—“Showing off”—Tom Lionized (pp. 26-36)

    The sun rose upon a tranquil world, and beamed down upon the peaceful village like a benediction. Breakfast over, aunt Polly had family worship; it began with a prayer built from the ground up of solid courses of Scriptural quotations welded together with a thin mortar of originality; and from the summit of this she delivered a grim chapter of the Mosaic Law, as from Sinai.

    Then Tom girded up his loins, so to speak, and went to work to ʺget his verses.ʺ Sid had learned his lesson days before. Tom bent all his energies to the memorizing of five...

  11. Chapter V. A Useful Minister—In Church—The Climax (pp. 37-43)

    About half past ten the cracked bell of the small church began to ring, and presently the people began to gather for the morning sermon. The Sunday-school children distributed themselves about the house and occupied pews with their parents, so as to be under supervision. Aunt Polly came, and Tom and Sid and Mary sat with her—Tom being placed next the aisle, in order that he might be as far away from the open window and the seductive outside summer scenes as possible. The crowd filed up the aisles: the aged and needy postmaster, who had seen better days;...

  12. CHAPTER VI. Self-Examination—Dentistry—The Midnight Charm—Witches and Devils—Cautious Approaches—Happy Hours (pp. 44-56)

    Monday morning found Tom Sawyer miserable. Monday morning always found him so—because it began another weekʹs slow suffering in school. He generally began that day with wishing he had had no intervening holiday, it made the going into captivity and fetters again so much more odious.

    Tom lay thinking. Presently it occurred to him that he wished he was sick; then he could stay home from school. Here was a vague possibility. He canvassed his system. No ailment was found, and he investigated again. This time he thought he could detect colicky symptoms, and he began to encourage them...

  13. Chapter VII. A Treaty Entered Into—Early Lessons—A Mistake Made (pp. 57-62)

    The harder Tom tried to fasten his mind on his book, the more his ideas wandered. So at last, with a sigh and a yawn, he gave it up. It seemed to him that the noon recess would never come. The air was utterly dead. There was not a breath stirring. It was the sleepiest of sleepy days. The drowsing murmur of the five and twenty studying scholars soothed the soul like the spell that is in the murmur of bees. Away off in the flaming sunshine, Cardiff Hill lifted its soft green sides through a shimmering veil of heat,...

  14. Chapter viii. Tom Decides on his Course—Old Scenes Re-enacted (pp. 63-69)

    Tom dodged hither and thither through lanes until he was well out of the track of returning scholars, and then fell into a moody jog. He crossed a small ʺbranchʺ two or three times, because of a prevailing juvenile superstition that to cross water baffled pursuit. Half an hour later he was disappearing behind the Douglas mansion on the summit of Cardiff Hill, and the school-house was hardly distinguishable away off in the valley behind him. He entered a dense wood, picked his pathless way to the centre of it, and sat down on a mossy spot under a spreading...

  15. Chapter ix. A Solemn Situation—Grave Subjects Introduced—Injun Joe Explains (pp. 70-77)

    At half past nine, that night, Tom and Sid were sent to bed, as usual. They said their prayers, and Sid was soon asleep. Tom lay awake and waited, in restless impatience. When it seemed to him that it must be nearly daylight, he heard the clock strike ten! This was despair. He would have tossed and fidgeted, as his nerves demanded, but he was afraid he might wake Sid. So he lay still, and stared up into the dark. Everything was dismally still. By and by, out of the stillness little scarcely perceptible noises began to emphasize themselves. The...

  16. CHAPTER X. The Solemn Oath—Terror Brings Repentance—Mental Punishment (pp. 78-85)

    The two boys flew on and on, toward the village, speechless with horror. They glanced backward over their shoulders from time to time, apprehensively, as if they feared they might be followed. Every stump that started up in their path seemed a man and an enemy, and made them catch their breath; and as they sped by some outlying cottages that lay near the village, the barking of the aroused watch-dogs seemed to give wings to their feet.

    ʺIf we can only get to the old tannery, before we break down!ʺ whispered Tom, in short catches between breaths, ʺI canʹt...

  17. Chapter xi. Muff Potter Comes Himself—Tom’s Conscience at Work (pp. 86-91)

    Close upon the hour of noon the whole village was suddenly electrified with the ghastly news. No need of the as yet undreamed-of telegraph; the tale flew from man to man, from group to group, from house to house with little less than telegraphic speed. Of course the schoolmaster gave holiday for that afternoon; the town would have thought strangely of him if he had not.

    A gory knife had been found close to the murdered man, and it had been recognized by somebody as belonging to Muff Potter—so the story ran. And it was said that a belated...

  18. Chapter Xii. Tom Shows his Generosity—Aunt Polly Weakens (pp. 92-97)

    One of the reasons why Tomʹs mind had drifted away from its secret troubles was, that it had found a new and weighty matter to interest itself about. Becky Thatcher had stopped coming to school. Tom had struggled with his pride a few days, and tried to ʺwhistle her down the wind,ʺ but failed. He began to find himself hanging around her fatherʹs house, nights, and feeling very miserable. She was ill. What if she should die! There was distraction in the thought. He no longer took an interest in war, nor even in piracy. The charm of life was...

  19. CHAPTER XIII. The Young Pirates—Going to the Rendezvous—The Camp-Fire Talk (pp. 98-105)

    Tom’s mind was made up, now. He was gloomy and desperate. He was a forsaken, friendless boy, he said; nobody loved him; when they found out what they had driven him to, perhaps they would be sorry; he had tried to do right and get along, but they would not let him; since nothing would do them but to be rid of him, let it be so; and let them blamehimfor the consequences—why shouldnʹt they? what right had the friendless to complain? Yes, they had forced him to it at last: he would lead a life of...

  20. Chapter Xiv. Camp-Life—A Sensation—Tom Steals Away from Camp (pp. 106-113)

    When Tom awoke in the morning, he wondered where he was. He sat up and rubbed his eyes and looked around. Then he comprehended. It was the cool gray dawn, and there was a delicious sense of repose and peace in the deep pervading calm and silence of the woods. Not a leaf stirred; not a sound obtruded upon great Natureʹs meditation. Beaded dew-drops stood upon the leaves and grasses. A white layer of ashes covered the fire, and a thin blue breath of smoke rose straight into the air. Joe and Huck still slept.

    Now, far away in the...

  21. CHAPTER XV. Tom Reconnoiters—Learns the Situation—Reports at Camp (pp. 114-118)

    A few minutes later Tom was in the shoal water of the bar, wading toward the Illinois shore. Before the depth reached his middle he was half-way over; the current would permit no more wading, now, so he struck out confidently to swim the remaining hundred yards. He swam quartering up stream, but still was swept downward rather faster than he had expected. However, he reached the shore finally, and drifted along till he found a low place and drew himself out. He put his hand on his jacket pocket, found his piece of bark safe, and then struck through...

  22. CHAPTER XVI. A Day’s Amusements—Tom Reveals a Secret—The Pirates take a Lesson—A Night Surprise—An Indian War (pp. 119-128)

    After dinner all the gang turned out to hunt for turtle eggs on the bar. They went about poking sticks into the sand, and when they found a soft place they went down on their knees and dug with their hands. Sometimes they would take fifty or sixty eggs out of one hole. They were perfectly round white things a trifle smaller than an English walnut. They had a famous fried-egg feast that night, and another on Friday morning.

    After breakfast they went whooping and prancing out on the bar, and chased each other round and round, shedding clothes as...

  23. CHAPTER XVII. Memories of the Lost Heroes—The Point in Tom’s Secret (pp. 129-132)

    But there was no hilarity in the little town that same tranquil Saturday afternoon. The Harpers, and Aunt Pollyʹs family, were being put into mourning, with great grief and many tears. An unusual quiet possessed the village, although it was ordinarily quiet enough, in all conscience. The villagers conducted their concerns with an absent air, and talked little; but they sighed often. The Saturday holiday seemed a burden to the children. They had no heart in their sports, and gradually gave them up.

    In the afternoon Becky Thatcher found herself moping about the deserted school-house yard, and feeling very melancholy....

  24. Chapter xviii. Tom’s Feelings Investigated—Wonderful Dream—Becky Thatcher Overshadowed—Tom Becomes Jealous—Black Revenge (pp. 133-143)

    That was Tomʹs great secret—the scheme to return home with his brother pirates and attend their own funerals. They had paddled over to the Missouri shore on a log, at dusk on Saturday, landing five or six miles below the village; they had slept in the woods at the edge of town till nearly daylight, and had then crept through back lanes and alleys and finished their sleep in the gallery of the church among a chaos of invalided benches.

    At breakfast, Monday morning, Aunt Polly and Mary were very loving to Tom, and very attentive to his wants....

  25. Chapter Xix. Tom Tells the Truth (pp. 144-146)

    Tom arrived at home in a dreary mood, and the first thing his aunt said to him showed him that he had brought his sorrows to an unpromising market:

    ʺTom, Iʹve a notion to skin you alive!ʺ

    ʺAuntie, what have I done?ʺ

    ʺWell, youʹve done enough. Here I go over to Sereny Harper, like an old softy, expecting Iʹm going to make her believe all that rubhage about that dream, when lo and behold you sheʹd found out from foe that you was over here and heard all the talk we had that night. Tom I donʹt know what is...

  26. Chapter XX. Becky in a Dilemma—Tom’s Nobility Asserts Itself (pp. 147-152)

    There was something about aunt Pollyʹs manner, when she kissed Tom, that swept away his low spirits and made him light-hearted and happy again. He started to school and had the luck of coming upon Becky Thatcher at the head of Meadow Lane. His mood always determined his manner. Without a momentʹs hesitation he ran to her and said:

    ʺI acted mighty mean to-day, Becky, and Iʹm so sorry. I wonʹt ever, ever do that way again, as long as ever I live—please make up, wonʹt you?ʺ

    The girl stopped and looked him scornfully in the face: ʺIʹll thank...

  27. Chapter xxi. Youthful Eloquence—Compositions by the Young Ladies—A Lengthy Vision—The Boys’ Vengeance Satisfied (pp. 153-160)

    Vacation was approaching, The schoolmaster, always severe, grew severer and more exacting than ever, for he wanted the school to make a good showing on ʺExaminationʺ day. His rod and his ferule were seldom idle now—at least among the smaller pupils. Only the biggest boys, and young ladies of eighteen and twenty escaped lashing. Mr. Dobbinsʹs lashings were very vigorous ones, too; for although he carried, under his wig, a perfectly bald and shiny head, he had only reached middle age and there was no sign of feebleness in his muscle. As the great day approached, all the tyranny...

  28. Chapter Xxii. Tom’s Confidence Betrayed—Expects Signal Punishment (pp. 161-165)

    Tom joined the new order of Cadets of Temperance, being attracted by the showy character of their ʺregalia.ʺ 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...

  29. Chapter xxiii. Old Muff’s Friends—Muff Potter in Court—Muff Potter Saved (pp. 166-172)

    At last the sleepy atmosphere was stirred—and vigorously: the murder trial came on in the court. It became the absorbing topic of village talk immediately. Tom could not get away from it. Every reference to the murder sent a shudder to his heart, for his troubled conscience and his fears almost persuaded him that these remarks were put forth in his hearing as ʺfeelers;ʺ he did not see how he could be suspected of knowing anything about the murder, but still he could not be comfortable in the midst of this gossip. It kept him in a cold shiver...

  30. Chapter Xxiv. Tom as the Village Hero—Days of Splendor and Nights of Horror—Pursuit of Injun Joe (pp. 173-174)

    Tom was a glittering hero once more—the pet of the old, the envy of the young. His name even went into immortal print, for the village paper magnified him. There were some that believed he would be President, yet, if he escaped hanging. As usual, the fickle, unreasoning world took Muff Potter to its bosom and fondled him as lavishly as it had abused him before. But that sort of conduct is to the worldʹs credit; there-fore it is not well to find fault with it.

    Tomʹs days were days of splendor and exultation to him, but his nights...

  31. Chapter Xxv. About Kings and Diamonds—Search for the Treasure—Dead People and Ghosts (pp. 175-183)

    There comes a time in every rightly constructed boyʹs life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure. This desire suddenly came upon Tom one day. He sallied out to find Joe Harper, but failed of success. Next he sought Ben Rogers; he had gone fishing. Presently he stumbled upon Huck Finn the Red-Handed. Huck would answer. Tom took him to a private place and opened the matter to him confidentially. Huck was willing. Huck was always willing to take a hand in any enterprise that offered entertainment and required no capital, for he...

  32. Chapter Xxvi. The Haunted House—Sleepy Ghosts—A Box of Gold—Bitter Luck (pp. 184-192)

    About noon the next day the boys arrived at the dead tree; they had come for their tools. Tom was impatient to go to the haunted house; Huck was measurably so, also—but suddenly said—

    ʺLookyhere, Tom, do you know what day it is?ʺ

    Tom mentally ran over the days of the week, and then quickly lifted his eyes with a startled look in them—

    ʺMy! I never once thought of it, Huck!ʺ

    ʺWell I didnʹt neither, but all at once it popped onto me that it was Friday.ʺ

    ʺBlame it, a body canʹt be too careful, Huck. We might...

  33. Chapter Xxvii. Doubts to be Settled—The Young Detectives (pp. 193-196)

    The adventure of the day mightily tormented Tomʹs dreams that night. Four times he had his hands on that rich treasure, and four times it wasted to nothingness in his fingers as sleep forsook him and wakefulness brought back the hard reality of his misfortune. As he lay in the early morning recalling the incidents of his great adventure, he noticed that they seemed curiously subdued and far away—somewhat as if they had happened in another world, or in a time long gone by. Then it occurred to him that the great adventure itself must be a dream! There...

  34. Chapter Xxviii. An Attempt at No. Two—Huck Mounts Guard (pp. 197-201)

    That night Tom and Huck were ready for their adventure. They hung about the neighborhood of the tavern until after nine, one watching the alley at a distance and the other the tavern door. Nobody entered the alley or left it; nobody resembling the Spaniard entered or left the tavern door. The night promised to be a fair one; so Tom went home, with the understanding that if a considerable degree of darkness came on, Huck was to come and ʺmaow,ʺ whereupon he would slip out and try the keys. But the night remained clear, and Huck closed his watch...

  35. Chapter xxix. The Pic-nic—Huck on Injun Joe’s Track—The “Revenge” Job—Aid for the Widow (pp. 202-210)

    The first thing Tom heard on Friday morning was a glad piece of news—Judge Thatcherʹs family had come back to town the night before. Both Injun Joe and the treasure sunk into secondary importance for a moment, and Becky took the chief place in the boyʹs interest. He saw her and they had an exhausting good time playing ʺhi-spyʺ and ʺgully-keeperʺ with a crowd of their schoolmates. The day was completed and crowned in a peculiarly satisfactory way: Becky teased her mother to appoint the next day for the long-promised and long-delayed pic-nic, and she consented. The childʹs delight...

  36. Chapter Xxx. The Welchman Reports—Huck Under Fire—The Story Circulated—A New Sensation—Hope Giving Way to Despair (pp. 211-221)

    As the earliest suspicion of dawn appeared on Sunday morning, Huck came groping up the hill and rapped gently at the old Welchmanʹs door. The inmates were asleep but it was a sleep that was set on a hair-trigger, on account of the exciting episode of the night. A call came from a window—

    ʺWhoʹs there!ʺ

    Huckʹs scared voice answered in a low tone:

    ʺDo please let me in! Itʹs only Huck Finn!ʺ

    ʺItʹs a name that can open this door night or day, lad!—and welcome!ʺ

    These were strange words to the vagabond boyʹs ears, and the pleasantest he...

  37. Chapter Xxxi. An Exploring Expedition—Trouble Commences—Lost in the Cave—Total Darkness—Found but not Saved (pp. 222-232)

    Now to return to Tom and Beckyʹs share in the pic-nic. They tripped along the murky aisles with the rest of the company, visiting the familiar wonders of the cave—wonders dubbed with rather over-descriptive names, such as ʺThe Drawing Room,ʺ ʺThe Cathedral,ʺ ʺAladdinʹs Palace,ʺ and so on. Presently the hide-and-seek frolicking began, and Tom and Becky engaged in it with zeal until the exertion began to grow a trifle wearisome; then they wandered down a sinuous avenue holding their candles aloft and reading the tangled web-work of names, dates, post-office addresses and mottoes with which the rocky walls had...

  38. Chapter Xxxii. Tom tells the Story of their Escape—Tom’s Enemy in Safe Quarters (pp. 233-237)

    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 petitionerʹs 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 heart-breaking...

  39. Chapter Xxxiii. The Fate of Injun Joe—Huck and Tom Compare Notes—An Expedition to the Cave—Protection Against Ghosts—“An Awful Snug Place”—A Reception at the Widow Douglas’s (pp. 238-249)

    Within a few minutes the news had spread, and a dozen skiff-loads of men were on their way to McDougalʹs cave, and the ferry-boat, well filled with passengers, soon followed. Tom Sawyer was in the skiff that bore Judge Thatcher.

    When the cave door was unlocked, a sorrowful sight presented itself in the dim twilight of the place. Injun Joe lay stretched upon the ground, dead, with his face close to the crack of the door, as if his longing eyes had been fixed, to the latest moment, upon the light and the cheer of the free world outside. Tom...

  40. Chapter xxxiv. Springing a Secret—Mr. Jones’ Surprise a Failure (pp. 250-253)

    Huck said:

    ʺTom, we can slope, if we can find a rope. The window ainʹt high from the ground.ʺ

    ʺShucks, what do you want to slope for?ʺ

    ʺWell I ainʹt used to that kind of a crowd. I canʹt stand it. I ainʹt going down there, Tom.ʺ

    ʺO, bother! It ainʹt anything. I donʹt mind it a bit. Iʹll take care of you.ʺ

    Sid appeared.

    ʺTom,ʺ said he, ʺAuntie has been waiting for you all the afternoon. Mary got your Sunday clothes ready, and everybodyʹs been fretting about you. Say—ainʹt this grease and clay, on your clothes?ʺ

    ʺNow Mr....

  41. Chapter Xxxv. A New Order of Things—Poor Huck—New Adventures Planned (pp. 254-259)

    The reader may rest satisfied that Tomʹs and Huckʹs windfall made a mighty stir in the poor little village of St. Petersburg. So vast a sum, all in actual cash, seemed next to incredible. It was talked about, gloated over, glorified, until the reason of many of the citizens tottered under the strain of the unhealthy excitement. Every ʺhauntedʺ house in St. Petersburg and the neighboring villages was dissected, plank by plank, and its foundations dug up and ransacked for hidden treasure—and not by boys, but men—pretty grave, unromantic men, too, some of them. Wherever Tom and Huck...

  42. CONCLUSION (pp. 260-260)

    So endeth this chronicle. It being strictly a history of aboy, it must stop here; the story could not go much further without becoming the history of aman. When one writes a novel about grown people, he knows exactly where to stop—that is, with a marriage; but when he writes of juveniles, he must stop where he best can.

    Most of the characters that perform in this book still live, and are prosperous and happy. Some day it may seem worth while to take up the story of the younger ones again and see what sort of...

  43. EXPLANATORY NOTES (pp. 261-269)
  44. SOURCES FOR CHARACTERS (pp. 270-271)
    J. C. G.
  45. NOTE ON THE TEXT (pp. 272-274)
    Robert H. Hirst
  46. Back Matter (pp. 275-275)

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