(This is the edited Chapter 2 from Tom Sawyer that Parker, Brady and I read it at our show at Sunduance 2012!  


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NARRATOR:


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer


by Mark Twain


Chapter 2


 


Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. 



Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged. 



He began to think of the fun he had planned for this day, and his sorrows multiplied. Soon the free boys would come tripping along on all sorts of delicious expeditions, and they would make a world of fun of him for having to work. The very thought of it burnt him like fire. But at this dark and hopeless moment, an inspiration burst upon him! Nothing less than a great, magnificent inspiration.



He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. Ben Rogers heaved into sight presently, the very boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been dreading. He was eating an apple, and impersonating the Big Missouri steamboat.



BEN:


Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!



NARRATOR:


The headway ran almost out, and he drew up slowly toward the sidewalk.



BEN:


Ship up to back! Ting-a-ling-ling!



NARRATOR:


His arms straightened and stiffened down his sides.  Tom went on whitewashing, paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said-- 



BEN:


Hi-YI! YOU'RE up a stump, ain't you!



NARRATOR:


No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then he gave his brush another gentle sweep 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--



BEN:


Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?



NARRATOR:


Tom wheeled suddenly and said--



TOM:


Why, it's you, Ben! I warn't noticing.



BEN:


Say, I'm going in a-swimming, I am. Don't you wish you could? But of course you'd druther work wouldn't you? Course you would!



NARRATOR:


Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said--



TOM:


What do you call work?



BEN:


Why, ain't that work?



NARRATOR:


Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly--



TOM:


Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain't. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer.



BEN:


Oh come, now, you don't mean to let on that you like it?



NARRATOR:


The brush continued to move.



TOM:


Like it? Well, I don't see why I shouldn't like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?



NARRATOR:


That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth, stepped back to note the effect, added a touch here and there, criticized the effect again, Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said--



BEN:


Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.



NARRATOR:


Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind--



TOM:


No, no, I reckon it wouldn't hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly's awful particular about this fence, right here on the street, you know, but if it was the back fence I wouldn't mind and she wouldn't. Yes, she's awful particular about this fence; it's got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain't one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it's got to be done.



BEN:


No, is that so? Oh come on now, lemme just try. Only just a little, I'd let you, if you was me, Tom.



TOM:


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--



BEN:


Oh, shucks, I'll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say, I'll give you the core of my apple.



TOM:


Well, here… No, Ben, now don't. I'm afeard--



BEN:


I'll give you all of it!



NARRATOR:


Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash.



Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it. Namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. 



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  • 100_21081
    Mark Twain is a genius
    ago
  • Photo-26
    Huh how funny this year for our eighth grade play we did that play.... I was the strict teacher even though I'm not mean in real life though haha!!!
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    I know there have been some strong opinions in the opposite direction on this, but I need to say that I really enjoyed this part of the show. I enjoyed the fact it didn't feel overly rehearsed, if at all? because I could literally feel the risk in it; it felt more vulnerable and genuine. I will be reMIXing & making art from it, for sure <3
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