At school the children made so much of him and Joe, and delivered such eloquent admiration from their eyes, that the two heroes were not long in becoming insufferably “stuck up.” They began to tell their adventures to hungry listeners—but they only began; it was not a thing likely to have an end, with imaginations like theirs to furnish material.
Becky, glancing in at a window behind him at that moment, saw the act, and moved on, without discovering herself. She started homeward; now, intending to find Tom and tell him; Tom would be thankful and their troubles would be healed. Before she was halfway home, however, she had changed her mind.
Once more she ventured, and this time she fortified herself with the thought: “It’s a good lie—it’s a good lie—I won’t let it grieve me.” So she sought the jacket pocket. A moment later she was reading Tom’s piece of bark through flowing tears and saying: “I could forgive the boy, now, if he’s committed a million sins!”
At that moment a shadow fell on the page and Tom Sawyer stepped in at the door, and caught a glimpse of the picture. Becky snatched at the book to close it, and had the hard luck to tear the pictured page half down the middle. She thrust the volume into the desk, turned the key, and burst out crying with shame and vexation.
The school stared in perplexity at this incredible folly. Tom stood a moment, to gather his dismembered faculties; and when he stepped forward to go to his punishment the surprise, the gratitude, the adoration that shone upon him out of poor Becky’s eyes seemed pay enough for a hundred floggings.