Written on 23-Feb-2009 by Jigsaw
"What's gone with that boy, I wonder? You TOM!"
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 looked through them for so small a thing as a boy; they were her state pair, the pride of her heart, and were built for "style," 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 enough for the furniture to hear:
"Well, I lay if I get hold of you I'll-"
She did not finish, for by this time she was bending down and punching under the bed with the broom-and so she needed breath to punctuate the punches with. She resurrected nothing but the cat.
"I never did see the beat of that boy!"
She went to the open door and stood in it and looked out among the tomato vines and "jimpson" weeds that constituted the garden. No Tom. So she lifted up her voice, at an angle calculated for distance, and shouted:
There was a slight noise behind her and she turned just in time to seize a small boy by the slack of his roundabout and arrest his flight.
"There! I might 'a' thought of that closet. What you been doing in there?"
"Nothing! Look at your hands. And look at your mouth. What is that truck?"
"I don't know, aunt."
"Well I know. It's jam-that's what it is. Forty times I've said if you didn't let that jam alone I'd skin you. Hand me that switch."
The switch hovered in the air-the peril was desperate-
"My! Look behind you, aunt!"
The old lady whirled around, and snatched her skirts out of danger. The lad fled, on the instant, scrambled up the high board fence, and disappeared over it.
His aunt Polly stood surprised a moment, and then broke into a gentle laugh.
"Hang the boy, can't I never learn anything? Ain't he played me tricks enough like that for me to be looking out for him
by this time? But old fools is
the biggest fools there is. Can't learn an old dog new tricks, as the saying is. But my goodness, he never plays them alike, two days, and how is a body to know what's coming? He 'pears to know just how long he can torment me before I get my dander up, and he knows if he can make out to put me off for a minute or make me laugh, it's all down again and I can't hit him a lick. I ain't doing my duty by that boy, and that's the Lord's truth, goodness knows. Spare the rod and spile the child, as the Good Book says. I'm a-laying up sin and suffering for us both, I know. He's full of the Old Scratch, but laws-a-me! he's my own dead sister's boy, poor thing, and I ain't got the heart to lash him, somehow. Every time I let him off my conscience does hurt me so, and every time I hit him my old heart most breaks. Well-a-well, man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble, as the Scripture says, and I reckon it's so. He'll play hookey this evening,* and I'll just be obleeged to make him work, to-morrow, to punish him. It's mighty hard to make him work Saturdays, when all the boys is having holiday, but he hates work more than he hates anything else, and I've got to do some of my duty by him, or I'll be the ruination of the child."
Tom did play hookey, and he had a very good time. He got back home barely in season to help Jim, the small colored boy, saw next day's wood and split the kindlings, before supper-at least he was there in time to tell his adventures to Jim while Jim did three-fourths of the work. Tom's younger brother, (or rather, half-brother) Sid, was already through with his part of the work (picking up chips,) for he was a quiet boy and had no adventurous, troublesome ways.
While Tom was eating his supper, and stealing sugar as opportunity offered, aunt Polly asked him questions that were full of guile, and very deep-for she wanted to trap him into damaging revealments. Like many other simple-hearted souls, it was her pet vanity to believe she was endowed with a talent for dark and mysterious diplomacy and she loved to contemplate her most transparent devices as marvels of low cunning. Said she:
"Tom, it was middling warm in school, warn't it?"
"Powerful warm, warn't it?"
"Didn't you want to go in a-swimming, Tom?"
A bit of a scare shot through Tom-a touch of uncomfortable suspicion. He searched aunt Polly's face, but it told him nothing. So he said:
"No'm-well, not very much."
The old lady reached out her hand and felt Tom's shirt, and said:
"But you ain't too warm now, though." And it flattered her to reflect that she had discovered that the shirt was dry without anybody knowing that that was what she had in her mind. But in spite of her, Tom knew where the wind lay, now. So he forestalled what might be the next move:
"Some of us pumped on our heads-mine's damp yet. See?"
Aunt Polly was vexed to think she had overlooked that bit of circumstantial evidence, and missed a trick. Then she had a new inspiration:
"Tom, you didn't have to undo your shirt collar where I sewed it to pump on your head, did you? Unbutton your jacket!"
The trouble vanished out of Tom's face. He opened his jacket. His shirt collar was securely sewed.
"Bother! Well, go 'long with you. I'd made sure you'd played hookey and been a-swimming. But I forgive ye, Tom. I reckon you're a kind of a singed cat, as the saying is-better'n you look. This time."
She was half sorry her sagacity had miscarried, and half glad that Tom had stumbled into obedient conduct for once.
But Sidney said:
"Well, now, if I didn't think you sewed his collar with white thread, but it's black."
"Why, I did sew it with white! Tom!"
But Tom did not wait for the rest. As he went out at the door he said:
"Siddy, I'll lick you for that."
In a safe place Tom examined two large needles which were thrust into the lappels of his jacket, and had thread bound about them-one needle carried white thread and the other black. He said:
"She'd never noticed, if it hadn't been for Sid. Consound it! sometimes she sews it with white and sometimes she sews it with black. I wish to geeminy she'd stick to one or t'other-I can't keep the run of 'em. But I bet you I'll lam Sid for that. I'll learn him!"
He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very well though-and loathed him.
Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles. Not because his troubles were one whit less heavy and bitter to him than a man's are to a man, but because a new and powerful interest bore them down and drove them out of his mind for the time-just as men's misfortunes are forgotten in the excitement of new enterprises. This new interest was a valued novelty in whistling, which he had just acquired from a negro, and he was suffering to practice it undisturbed. It consisted in a peculiar bird-like turn, a sort of liquid warble, produced by touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth at short intervals in the midst of the music-the reader probably remembers how to do it if he has ever been a boy. Diligence and attention soon gave him the knack of it, and he strode down the street with his mouth full of harmony and his soul full of gratitude. He felt much as an astronomer feels who has discovered a new planet. No doubt, as far as strong, deep, unalloyed pleasure is concerned, the advantage was with the boy, not the astronomer.
The summer evenings were long. It was not dark, yet. Presently Tom checked his whistle. A stranger was before him-a boy a shade larger than himself. A new-comer of any age or either sex was an impressive curiosity in the poor little shabby village of St. Petersburg. This boy was well dressed, too-well dressed on a week-day. This was simply astounding. His cap was a dainty thing, his close-buttoned blue cloth roundabout was new and natty, and so were his pantaloons. He had shoes on-and yet it was only Friday. He even wore a necktie, a bright bit of ribbon. He had a citified air about him that ate into Tom's vitals. The more Tom stared at the splendid marvel, the higher he turned up his nose at his finery and the shabbier and shabbier his own outfit seemed to him to grow. Neither boy spoke. If one moved, the other moved-but only sidewise, in a circle; they kept face to face and eye to eye all the time. Finally Tom said:
"I can lick you!"
"I'd like to see you try it."
"Well, I can do it."
"No you can't, either."
"Yes I can."
"No you can't."
An uncomfortable pause. Then Tom said:
"What's your name?"
"Tisn't any of your business, maybe."
"Well I 'low I'll make it my business."
"Well why don't you?"
"If you say much I will."
"Much-much-much! There now."
"Oh, you think you're mighty smart, don't you? I could lick you with one hand tied behind me, if I wanted to."
"Well why don't you do it? You say you can do it."
"Well I will, if you fool with me."
"Oh yes-I've seen whole families in the same fix."
"Smarty! You think you're some, now, don't you? Oh what a hat!"
"You can lump that hat if you don't like it. I dare you to knock it off-and anybody that'll take a dare will suck eggs."
"You're a liar!"
"You're a fighting liar and dasn't take it up."
"Aw-take a walk!"
"Say-if you gimme much more of your sass I'll take and bounce a rock off'n your head."
"Oh, of course you will."
"Well I will."
"Well why don't you do it then? What do you keep saying you will, for? Why don't you do it? It's because you're afraid."
"I ain't afraid."
Another pause, and more eyeing and sidling around each other. Presently they were shoulder to shoulder. Tom said:
"Get away from here!"
"Get away yourself!"
"I won't either."
So they stood, each with a foot placed at an angle as a brace, and both shoving with might and main, and glowering at each other with hate. But neither could get an advantage. After struggling till both were hot and flushed, each relaxed his strain with watchful caution, and Tom said:
"You're a coward and a pup. I'll tell my big brother on you, and he can thrash you with his little finger, and I'll make him do it, too."
"What do I care for your big brother? I've got a brother that's bigger than he is-and what's more, he can throw him over that fence, too." [Both brothers were imaginary.]
"That's a lie."
"Your saying so don't make it so."
Tom drew a line in the dust with his big toe, and said:
"I dare you to step over that, and I'll lick you till you can't stand up. Anybody that'll take a dare will steal a sheep."
The new boy stepped over promptly, and said:
"Now you said you'd do it, now let's see you do it."
"Don't you crowd me, now; you better look out."
"Well you said you'd do it-why don't you do it?"
"By jingo! for two cents I will do it."
The new boy took two broad coppers out of his pocket and held them out with derision. Tom struck them to the ground. In an instant both boys were rolling and tumbling in the dirt, gripped together like cats; and for the space of a minute they tugged and tore at each other's hair and clothes, punched and scratched each other's noses, and covered themselves with dust and glory. Presently the confusion took form, and through the fog of battle Tom appeared, seated astride the new boy and pounding him with his fists.
"Holler 'nuff!" said he.
The boy only struggled to free himself. He was crying,-mainly from rage.
"Holler 'nuff!"-and the pounding went on.
At last the stranger got out a smothered "'Nuff!" and Tom let him up and said:
"Now that'll learn you. Better look out who you're fooling with, next time."
The new boy went off brushing the dust from his clothes, sobbing, snuffling, and occasionally looking back and shaking his head and threatening what he would do to Tom the "next time he caught him out." To which Tom responded with jeers, and started off in high feather; and as soon as his back was turned the new boy snatched up a stone, threw it and hit him between the shoulders and then turned tail and ran like an antelope. Tom chased the traitor home, and thus found out where he lived. He then held a position at the gate for some time, daring the enemy to come outside, but the enemy only made faces at him through the window and declined. At last the enemy's mother
appeared, and called Tom a bad, vicious, vulgar child, and ordered him away. So he went away; but he said he "lowed" to "lay" for that boy.
He got home pretty late, that night, and when he climbed cautiously in at the window, he uncovered an ambuscade, in the person of his aunt; and when she saw the state his clothes were in her resolution to turn his Saturday holiday into captivity at hard labor became adamantine in its firmness.
Written on 20-Feb-2009 by Jigsaw
Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, in 1835, and grew up in nearby Hannibal, a small Mississippi River town. Hannibal would become the model for St. Petersburg, the fictionalized setting of Twain's two most popular novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The young Clemens grew up in a prosperous family—his father owned a grocery store as well as a number of slaves—but he was sent out to work at the age of twelve after his father's death. As a young man, he traveled frequently, working as a printer's typesetter and as a steamboat pilot. In this latter profession he gained familiarity with the river life that would furnish much material for his writing. He also gained his pen name, Mark Twain, which is a measure of depth in steamboat navigation.
Twain enlisted in the Confederate militia in 1861, early in the Civil War, but he soon left to pursue a career in writing and journalism in Nevada and San Francisco. His articles and stories became immensely popular in the decades that followed. On the strength of this growing literary celebrity and financial success, he moved east in the late 1860s and married Olivia Langdon, the daughter of a prominent Elmira, New York, family.
Twain and Langdon settled in Hartford, Connecticut; there Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which he published in 1876. Twain proceeded to write, among other things, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) and two sequels to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894) and Tom Sawyer, Detective (1896). He died in 1910, one of America's most beloved humorists and storytellers.
While The Adventures of Tom Sawyer retains some of the fragmented, episodic qualities of Twain's earlier, shorter pieces, the novel represents, in general, a significant literary departure for Twain. He toned down the large-scale social satire that characterized many of his earlier works, choosing instead to depict the sustained development of a single, central character. Twain had originally intended for the novel to follow Tom into adulthood and conclude with his return to St. Petersburg after many years away. But he was never able to get his hero out of boyhood, however, and the novel ends with its protagonist still preparing to make the transition into adult life.
Twain based The Adventures of Tom Sawyer largely on his personal memories of growing up in Hannibal in the 1840s. In his preface to the novel, he states that “[m]ost of the adventures recorded in this book really occurred” and that the character of Tom Sawyer has a basis in “a combination . . . of three boys whom I knew.” Indeed, nearly every figure in the novel comes from the young Twain's village experience: Aunt Polly shares many characteristics with Twain's mother; Mary is based on Twain's sister Pamela; and Sid resembles Twain's younger brother, Henry. Huck Finn, the Widow Douglas, and even Injun Joe also have real-life counterparts, although the actual Injun Joe was more of a harmless drunk than a murderer.
Unlike Twain's later masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer concerns itself primarily with painting an idyllic picture of boyhood life along the Mississippi River. Though Twain satirizes adult conventions throughout The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, he leaves untouched certain larger issues that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn explores critically. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer never deals directly with slavery, for example, and, while the town's dislike of Injun Joe suggests a kind of small-town xenophobia (fear of foreigners or outsiders), Injun Joe's murders more than justify the town's suspicion of him. Because it avoids explicit criticism of racism, slavery, and xenophobia, the novel has largely escaped the controversy over race and language that has surrounded The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. To this day, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer remains perhaps the most popular and widely read of all Twain's works.
Written on 18-Feb-2009 by Jigsaw
This is just a short reading list from what I have compiled from some of the members on the forums:
March 2009: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
April 2009: The Master and Margarita by Makhail Bulgavok
May 2009: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
June 2009: Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
July 2009: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
August 2009: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
September 2009: Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to send me a message. Also, please post book suggestions in the forums. If you do not like this list, that is alright. This is just a rough draft of what I have compiled. It is not yet the official reading list.
Written on 17-Feb-2009 by Jigsaw
There were two great holidays over the weekend. One was for the lovers, and the other was for the presidents. I am just going to give you a summary of both of these holidays by asking questions.
Q. Why and how is Valentine's Day celebrated?
A. No one quite knows, why it is celebrated, but it surely makes a big difference in life of lovers. This is the most important day for lovers. They all go mad in love on this day,and can think of nothing but how to please their beloved. It is recorded that business of jewelry takes a big jump during February. So does the business of flowers,candies and cards. Every other gift that can be thought of is bought across most of the countries of the world and is sent to the beloved.
Q. What about others?
A. Valentine's Day may be the most important day for those in love. What about others? Let us take a look at today's world. Wars, terrorism, fear, murders, and every other destruction that can disturb a peaceful life is the norm. Open a newspaper, watch news on television or read it on Internet, the disturbing news is getting predominance. It depresses the common person in the world. Isn't it? What does a common person think of
the future of such a world? Can anyone be optimistic? Can anyone visualize of peace dawning around the world, countries co existing in peace with each other and no ethnic wars being fought anywhere?
What does one look forward to in such a world? I think that most of us have become so numb with disturbances, both man made and natural that we have stopped thinking of future. For a large majority it is "let us try to live peacefully today".
Now, let's look at Presidents Day.
Washington's Birthday is the official name designated to what many of us know as President's Day. During the month of February the birthday of two of our greatest President's takes place. Both George Washington who was born on Feb. 22nd and Abraham Lincoln born on Feb. 12th.
However, Washington's birthday has been publicly celebrated since he was in office, before Abraham Lincoln was even born. Much of the debate over the name of the holiday springs from the fact that state's can follow their own holidays how they see fit and many of them chose to also honor Lincoln, calling the celebration President's Day.
It was in 1968 that the term President's Day came up for legal consideration in the Congress but was shot down, though the holiday was moved to fall between the two President's birthdays. Again in the 1980's there was a resurgence of the term with advertisers which solidfied the holiday name in American culture. Today, few Americans prefer to call the holiday Washington's Birthday in lieu of President's Day.
Written on 16-Feb-2009 by Jigsaw
Rules are meant to establish expectations and prevent future problems. Here are some rules that I would like everybody to follow:
1. You may find that you disagree with something that another member of the group has said. It is okay to disagree!
2. Flaming and/or inappropriate behavior and/or language will not be tolerated.
3. Please respect the authority of the moderator (me).
4. Keep on topic, but feel free to introduce information that is relevant to the discussion (historical facts, bio details, book background, related authors or topics).
5. If you cite copyrighted material, please appropriately reference your source(s). Also, please don't inappropriately post or distribute copyrighted material.
The purpose of this book club is to read and enjoy literature! So, if you love books, and you're ready to discuss them... you're in the right place. Please respect these rules for the sake of this discussion group.
Written on 15-Feb-2009 by Jigsaw
Hello and welcome! My name is Austin. Do you wish to find peace in a great book? If you love reading and everything about it, this is the place for you. Everyone meets once a month to discuss the book in question after reading it. Every month we select a different genre.
In this book club, we give you the book and (if you can) you find it at your local library. It's quite all right if you cannot. Just e-mail us at email@example.com. At the beginning of each month, we will give a short excerpt of the book, and you can discuss the book all month.
Now, before we start with the book of the month and everything, I would like to get some members here. On March 1st, we will start with an instant classic: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I hope this choice is good with everyone. If you have any questions or comments, please send me a message.