- Mark Twain The Adventure of Tom Sawyer
Becky Thatcher has been absent from school for a few weeks now, and Tom has been keeping watch diligently for his new love. Suddenly she appears! As she is getting out of her carriage, Tom sees her and in what I (and I'm pretty sure every other reader who read it) thought was a staging of complete idiocy, he shows off, doing cartwheels and other actions that he thinks may impress her. Here's what happened:
“Tom's heart gave a great bound. The next instant he was out, and "going on" like an Indian; yelling, laughing, chasing boys, jumping over the fence at risk of life and limb, throwing handsprings, standing on his head—doing all the heroic things he could conceive of, and keeping a furtive eye out, all the while, to see if Becky Thatcher was noticing. But she seemed to be unconscious of it all; she never looked. Could it be possible that she was not aware that he was there? He carried his exploits to her immediate vicinity; came war-whooping around, snatched a boy's cap, hurled it to the roof of the schoolhouse, broke through a group of boys, tumbling them in every direction, and fell sprawling, himself, under Becky's nose, almost upsetting her—and she turned, with her nose in the air, and he heard her say: "Mf! some people think they're mighty smart—always showing off! Tom's cheeks burned. He gathered himself up and sneaked off, crushed and crestfallen.”
Tom decides, after this crushing blow, that he will become a pirate and sail the seven seas for the rest of his sorry life. He meets up with Joe Harper who agrees with his plan and then they recruit Huck Finn. This goes to show the imagination a young boy can have, dramatizing all aspects of life. At their favorite hour, midnight, they cast off the shore and head for an island about halfway across the Mississippi River. Once there, they discover a life of temporary plenty, sustained by the bacon and ham they stole before their departure.
“Huck found a spring of clear cold water close by, and the boys made cups of broad oak or hickory leaves, and felt that water, sweetened with such a wildwood charm as that, would be a good enough substitute for coffee. While Joe was slicing bacon for breakfast, Tom and Huck asked him to hold on a minute; they stepped to a promising nook in the river-bank and threw in their lines; almost immediately they had reward" A few lines later: “They fried the fish with the bacon, and were astonished; for no fish had ever seemed so delicious before. They did not know that the quicker a fresh-water fish is on the fire after he is caught the better he is; and they reflected little upon what a sauce open-air sleeping, open-air exercise, bathing, and a large ingredient of hunger make, too.”
This shows how skilled kids were in outdoor practices back in the days of Tom Sawyer. Today a formidable skill is being able to play a mean game of madden. Back then (although I doubt very many kids ran away from home to be "pirates") you could be judged on how well you were able to cook a fish, or how skilled of a marksman you were with a bow. I envy Tom, because in he is growing up in a carefree environment, and is outside for most of his life.