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.
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This new interest was a valued novelty in
whistling, which he had just acquired from a negro, and he was suffering to practise 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.
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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.
This is a blockquote. The summer evenings were long. It was not dark, yet. Presently Tom checked his whistle.
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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 it was only Friday.
He even wore:
- A necktie
- A bright bit of ribbon
- A fancy jacket
- A tophat
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:
H4 Headline Style: “I can lick you!”
“I’d like to see you try it.”
The raft drew beyond the middle of the river; the boys pointed her head right, and then lay on their oars.
The river was not high, so there was not more than a two or three mile current. Hardly a word was
said during the next three-quarters of an hour. Now the raft was passing before the distant town. Two or three glimmering lights showed where it lay, peacefully sleeping, beyond the vague vast sweep of star-gemmed water, unconscious of the tremendous event that was happening.
- The Black Avenger stood still with folded arms, “looking his last” upon
- the scene of his former joys and his later sufferings, and wishing
- “she” could see him now, abroad on the wild sea, facing peril and death with dauntless heart, going to his doom with a grim smile on his lips. It was but a small strain on his imagination to remove Jackson’s Island
- beyond eyeshot of the village, and so he “looked his last” with a
- broken and satisfied heart. The other pirates were looking their last,
- too; and they all looked so long that they came near letting the
current drift them out of the range of the island. But they discovered the danger in time, and made shift to avert it. About two o’clock in the morning the raft grounded on the bar two hundred yards above the head of the island, and they waded back and forth until they had landed their freight.
Part of the little raft’s belongings consisted of an old sail, and this they spread over a nook in the bushes for a tent to shelter their provisions; but they themselves would sleep in the open air in good weather, as became outlaws.
- They built a fire against the side of a great log twenty or thirty
- steps within the sombre depths of the forest, and then cooked some
- bacon in the frying-pan for supper, and used up half of the corn “pone”
- stock they had brought. It seemed glorious sport to be feasting in that
- wild, free way in the virgin forest of an unexplored and uninhabited
- island, far from the haunts of men, and they said they never would
- return to civilization. The climbing fire lit up their faces and threw
- its ruddy glare upon the pillared tree-trunks of their forest temple,
- and upon the varnished foliage and festooning vines.
When the last crisp slice of bacon was gone, and the last allowance of corn pone devoured, the boys stretched themselves out on the grass, filled with contentment. They could have found a cooler place, but they would not deny themselves such a romantic feature as the roasting camp-fire.