The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain (1835-1910)
In this extract, Tom has been told to paint the fence as a punishment.
Ben Rogers hove in sight presently - the very boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been dreading. Ben's gait was the hop-skip-and-jump - proof enough that his heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and giving a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat.
Tom went on whitewashing -- paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said: "Hi- yi ! You're up a stump, ain't you!"
No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, and surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom's mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said: "Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?" ...
Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said: "What do you call work?"
"Why, ain't that work?"
Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly: "Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain't. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer."
"Oh come, now, you don't mean to let on that you like it?"
The brush continued to move. "Like it? Well, I don't see why I oughtn't to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?"
...Presently he said: "Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little."...
"Ben, I'd like to, honest injun; but Aunt Polly -- well, Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn't let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn't let Sid. Now don't you see how I'm fixed? If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it -- "
"Oh, shucks, I'll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say -- I'll give you the core of my apple." ...
Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart.
...Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all.
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