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Tom Sawyer: Chapter one


“Tom Sawyer (Whitewashing the fence” by Norman Rockwell 1936.)

Tom Sawyer is a classic American novel written by Mark Twain. To make the storyline easy to follow, I’ve written an adapted version. If you’d like to download the first chapter, click here. Otherwise, you can read it below:

Chapter One


“Tom, where are you?!”

No answer.

She took her broom and swept it under the bed for a sign of him.



She looked out the door onto her garden, wondering if he might be there.


I am sick and tired of trying to care for you! I am going to skin you if I find you, boy!”


“I never did like you, you know. Tom, where are you?!”

No answer.

She took her broom and swept it under the bed for a sign of him.



She looked out the door onto her garden, scanning the view.

Nothing. Just then, she heard a sound behind her and quickly turned her head, grabbing  his sleeve as she did so. “Now, I should have thought you’d be in that closet! Look at you! What is that all over your face?”

“I don’t know, aunt.”

“ Oh, now wait a minute! How many times did I tell you to stay away from my jam! Forty times I told you I’d skin you if I caught you eating that jam again. Hand me that switch.”

The switch was hanging on the wall above his head. His doom was near.

“Aunt, watch out behind you,” warned Tom in a hurried tone.

As soon as Aunt Polly turned her head, Tom ran out the door, jumping the fence. He was out of sight.

Aunt Polly couldn’t help but smile, slightly. “I never could keep up with his tricks because he never plays the same one twice. He knows that if he just gets me to smile that he can get away with most anything. Oh, but the Good Book says, “Spare the rod. Spoil the child.” But, Lord, he’s my dead sister’s son. How can I hit him? I ain’t doing any good by that boy. I just know he’ll be playing hooky today, and I’ll have to punish him. I’ll make him work. He hates to work, especially on a Saturday when all his friends are playing.”

Tom did play hooky that afternoon. On Saturday a thirty-foot long fence and a bucket of white paint were waiting for Tom. Sadness settled over him. While all his friends were planning their fun, he would be spending the day stroking nine-foot boards with white paint.

He just knew his friends would make fun of him. Just then inspiration came upon him, and he intently started the task of whitewashing the fence. Ben Rodgers was the first boy to come along. He was chewing an apple and teasing Tom. “ Whoopee! Look at you. Having fun, are you, Tom.”

Tom ignored him. Stroking the fence with deep concentration, stopping only to review his creative work.

“Oh Ben, I didn’t see you there,” said Tom as he dipped his brush in the one-gallon container.

“I’d invite you to go swimming with me, Tom, but I guess you have to work.”

“Work? What do you call work?” replied Tom in surprise.

“That. Your whitewashing the fence is work,” answered Ben.

“Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. To some it may be work, but it suits me just fine. You don’t get to paint a fence every day.” He returned to making careful strokes up and down the nine-foot fence.

Well, that got Ben thinking about the fence in a different way. He took the last bite of his apple and thought that he might like a turn.

“Hey, how about letting me try it?” asked Ben.

“Well, I don’t know, Ben. I don’t think so. Aunt Polly is awfully particular about the fence. Jim wanted to try, but I said ‘no’. Sid asked, too, but I wouldn’t let him.”

“Oh, c’mon, Tom. Let me give it a try!” Ben pleaded.

“Well, maybe if it were the back fence I would, but I couldn’t let you do the front-yard fence.”

“Tom Sawyer, please. Just for a few minutes! I’ll give you my apple core!” begged Ben.

“Well, I guess I could let you try for a few minutes,” Tom conceded.

So, Tom Sawyer sat on a barrel while Ben got to work. As Ben set about the work, others came along. They first came to jeer but then begged for a chance to whitewash. When Ben got tired, Billy Fisher traded Tom a kite for a chance to paint the fence. Next, Johnny Miller offered Tom a dead rat for an opportunity to whitewash. By the end of the afternoon, Tom had acquired a key, a cat with one eye, six firecrackers, a lock, twelve marbles, a piece of blue glass, and much more. Not only did he acquire a lot of loot but the fence had three coats of paint on it as well.

Not only did Tom spend the afternoon relaxing but he also learned an important lesson: you can get a person to want almost anything if you make it hard to get.


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