By Twain Mark
By Twain Mark
Samuel Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri in 1835. With three siblings dead, Sam grew up with another three by the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri. The locale acted as inspiration for two of his best-known works- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. His young life was filled with various occupations, moving from typesetter, riverboat pilot on the Mississippi, Confederate soldier during the Civil War, governor’s secretary, and miner, until finally settling on writing as a journalist and using the pen name ‘Mark Twain.’
Paid to write travel journals, Twain met Charles Landgon abroad. Landgon showed Twain a picture of his sister- Olivia- that made Twain instantly enamored. After marrying Olivia, they moved close to her family in the Northeast, where he made friends amongst the intellectual, wealthy, liberals of the area. There, he owned and worked on the Buffalo Express newspaper and had four children.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published in 1876, and its main character was inspired by not only his own youth but by John B. Briggs and William Bowen. While it didn’t quite make give him the literary clout Huckleberry Finn did, it was an amazingly popular book.
The story begins with Tom managing to avoid punishment for eating jam he wasn’t supposed to, setting up his mischievous character. Having skipped school, Tom is forced to spend his weekend whitewashing the fence. He quickly devises a plan and manages to get the town’s boys to pay him for a chance to do it themselves, pretending that it’s a rare joy of an activity. Using the things he got paid with, he trades them in for a set of Sunday school tickets that allow him to get a Bible and impress the just arrived Judge Thatcher. His glory quickly escapes him, though, as he incorrectly answers a basic question about Biblical knowledge.
Tom becomes enamored with the new girl in town- Becky Thatcher- and charms her enough so as to get engaged. This also quickly falls apart as he reveals that he has already been engaged once.
Tom accompanies Huckleberry Finn to the graveyard during midnight to enact a bit of superstition that is meant to get rid of warts. Hidden in the bushes, they end up witnessing the murder of Dr. Robinson by Injun Joe, both of whom were there with Muff Potter to exhume a body. Injun Joe manages to convince the often drunk Muff that it was him that committed the murder in a drunken state but that Injun Joe will cover the evidence up if Muff makes his escape now. Injun Joe leaves the scene untouched though, with Muff’s knife and murder weapon intact. Tom and Huck swear to each other not to tell anyone what they witnessed so as not to risk their lives. Muff Potter is promptly arrested the next morning, with Injun Joe’s false testimony and the murder weapons providing ample evidence.
Some time later, Tom, Huck and Joe Harper leave home to pretend to be pirates on Jackson Island. Not having told anyone about their excursion, the town thinks them missing, then dead after some days of searching. Sneaking home to assure them of their safety, Tom thinks up an idea that will gain them the town’s attention: he plans to have them show up on the day of his own funeral. Doing so, the town rejoices at their return, making friends envious of them.
After some back and forth bickering between Tom and Becky, Tom steps in to save her from a whipping for ripping the teacher’s anatomy book and they reconcile.
After some of the summer is spent, Muff Potter’s trial begins. Both Huck and Tom have been sneaking Muff bits of tobacco and so on throughout his imprisonment, and each time they visit, their guilt at not having said anything about what they know grows. This becomes too much for Tom, and he ends up being a surprise witness on the last day of the trial. As he is about to reveal what actually happened that night, Injun Joe- who was in the audience- escapes. The town admires Tom courage, but the boy himself is terrified of Injun Joe taking revenge on him.
Tom gets the desire to go treasure hunting and gets Huck to go along with him. While searching a haunted house, a deaf and dumb Spaniard who has been seen around St. Petersburg and a sloppy man enter it. Hidden away, the boys learn that the Spaniard is actually Injun Joe. They also see the two criminals discover a stash of money under their own, a stroke of luck that excites the boys. Noting evidence of someone else having been in the house, though, Injun Joe and the other man move the money to another spot.
The boys try to divine where the money could have been hid, and Tom stumbles upon a blacked out Injun Joe in the town tavern. They set up a plan to watch Injun Joe to get a chance at searching the room he was in when he leaves. Becky throws a picnic, and the party ends up exploring the large tunnels of McDougal’s cave. During this event, Huck catches Injun Joe and his partner sneaking off with a box. He follows them up to the Widow Douglas’ house, where he learns Injun Joe plans to cut her face off because her dead husband was the judge who sentenced him. Huck dashes off and- though terrified- informs some nearby neighbors of the threat. The neighbor’s and his sons manage to scare off Injun Joe and the partner, but not catch him. Huck ends up sick with a fever and is bedridden for days.
During Huck’s sickness, it’s found out that Tom and Becky are missing. And after days of searching the cave, they’re given up for dead. Tom and Becky get themselves lost in the tunnels after being chased by bats, and though they wait for rescue, they don’t receive it. Tom takes the initiative to search the caves, but spots Injun Joe off and away in one of the tunnels. Though fear keeps him and Becky rooted near a spring, Tom tries again and finds a way out. As the town has given up their search, Tom and Becky arrive on carriage from five miles down the river.
After having been in bed himself for a few days, Tom learns that Injun Joe’s partner had been found dead and that Judge Thatcher has locked up the cave. Revealing that Injun Joe was within, the town opens up the cave again to see Injun Joe’s corpse right at the entrance. After Huck recovers, Tom suggests that the treasure may have been, not in the tavern, but in the cave. They go spelunking and find all the money Injun Joe and his partner had.
The money is invested for the boys and the Widow Douglas, who learns it was him that helped save her life and takes Huck in. After some time living an ordered life, Huck runs away. Tom manages to get him to come back, though, saying that to form a proper robber’s gang, they would all need to have proper manners. Huck agrees, and the book ends with saying that they grew up happy and prosperous, but without giving any details.
St. Petersburg is a fictional, small town in Minnesota based upon Mark Twain’s home of Hannibal, MO. It lies right near the Mississippi River.
Jackson Island is a small strip of land that lies close to the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. It’s where the boys spend a few days pretending to be pirates while the town is convinced they’ve died.
The McDougal’s Cave is an extensive series of underground tunnels near the town St. Petersburg. Its entirety is unmapped at the time of the story’s telling, which leads to Tom and Becky getting lost within its depths. After Tom manages to find a way out, the entrance is boarded up, leading to the inadvertent death of Injun Joe.
Tom throughout the beginning of the story repeatedly practices irresponsibility. He shrugs off the work he needs to do on the fence by manipulating the town children into doing it for him and acquires the recognition of learning many Bible verses without having done the actual work. Huck’s lifestyle is the epitome of responsibility as the boy lives without any adult supervision. Once the boys leave for Jackson Island though, Tom begins to learn that his actions have greater repercussions. His sincere empathy towards his aunt drives him to sneak back home and assure her of the children’s’ safety, but his immaturity has him plan to show up at his own funeral instead.
With the trial of Muff Potter, Tom shows a growth in character by breaking a promise he made to Huck and testifying for Muff Potter at risk of his own life. Huck has a similar growth when he goes to tell the neighbors about Injun Joe and his partner’s planned assault on Widow Douglas. Though the book focuses on Tom, Huck giving up his unordered life to live with Widow Douglas signals a change in the boys’ maturity.
As the book is told from the perspective of a child, both the children and the narrator often ridicule the worldview of adults for being silly. While children are shown to view the world with a sense of curiosity- if not wonder- adults are portrayed as too serious. Both the Sunday and regular schoolteachers are sincere folks who seem to lack a sense of humor, as well as the pastor. Aunt Polly is always experiencing extreme emotions that take much of her energy. Injun Joe and his partner are petty and violent. The only adult who the children aren’t seen to always be fighting against is cousin Mary, who is in a liminal space between childhood and adulthood and manages to exert a certain amount of authority over the children, but without the resentment of it that seems to be attached to the other adults.
The novel’s main character, Tom Sawyer has enough mischief in him to constantly get him in trouble, but a strong enough conscience that he knows when to do the right thing. While not much information about his parents is revealed, we do know that his mother is dead and that it was her sister- Aunt Polly- who took Tom and Tom’s half-brother- Sid- in. He dispels Muff Potter’s presumed guilt and manages to find a way out of the caves once lost.
Aunt Polly is the ever-worrying guardian of Tom. She worries about his safety, and whether her pity for the boy ends up giving him too much leniency. This results in her emotions ranging from the extremes of sadness, anger and happiness.
Tom’s half-brother, Sid is the opposite of Tom in that he is ostensibly a good child, but seems to lack the moral character to do some of the braver things Tom does. His presence in the novel diminishes as it goes on, appearing only once again towards the end.
With an alcoholic father who doesn’t make an appearance in the book, Huck is free to do what he wants and ends up as a sort of scoundrel. He sleeps in hog sheds and steals for food. His freedom is admired by the boys- including Tom-, but it’s that same freedom that makes most of the parents not let their children play with him; Tom is, therefore, one of his best friends. While the town doesn’t think much of him, Huck manages to save Widow Douglas’ life by contacting the Welshman. Being a loner, he doesn’t have any desire for credit or attention like Tom does.
Joe Harper is one of Tom’s best friends, joining him and Huck on Jackson Island where they spend a few days pretending to be pirates.
The daughter of a judge, Becky is Tom’s infatuation.
A half-white, half Native American man, Injun Joe’s life as outcast has led him into a life of crime. He kills Dr. Robinson after some old insult and blames the murder on Muff Potter. He runs away when Tom testifies against him in court, but continues to hang around the city in disguise committing crimes and gathering up money to move to Texas. He ends up starving to death in the caves, locked in.
An indolent drunk, but a harmless one, Muff Potter is convinced by Injun Joe that he committed the murder of Dr. Robinson. He turns himself in though, unable to bear the guilt of his actions. It is Tom’s testimony that frees him.
The book begins with Tom Sawyer’s aunt- Aunt Polly- looking for the boy. After finding him and on the verge of hitting him for eating jam without permission, he tricks her and he manages to escape. She laughs off the event, then starts speaking to no one in particular about how she finds his behavior endearing, but her lackadaisical attitude is harmful to his character. She also says it’s hard for her to hit the boy as Tom is the son of his deceased sister. She figures she’ll let him get away today and just make him work the following day instead.
Tom returns to half-heartedly help out the family’s slave- Jim- and his half-brother- Sid. He explains to Jim and his quiet, half-brother what adventure he had while out and about. At dinner, Polly attempts to corner the boy into revealing that he had gone swimming, though he says his hair is damp because he poured water on it from a pump. She then checks to see if his shirt has remained sewed up as an unsewn shirt would indicate he had taken it off. It’s sewn, and Polly is satisfied that he went to school instead of swimming. Sid takes the opportunity to point out that the thread is a different color though, prompting Tom to run away from the table promising to beat Sid.
Though angry, Tom soon forgets his problems with a new whistling style that one of the slaves taught him. He is practicing when he walks into a well-dressed boy. After a minute of examining each other, Tom instigates an argument by proclaiming he could beat the other boy up. Their verbal argument becomes physical. They pause for a bit to proclaim how each of their older brothers- both made up- would beat the other one up. Tom draws a line in the sand, which the boy crosses, causing another fight. The boy concedes, crying, but then throws a rock when Tom turns his back. Tom chases the boy home.
When he gets back and sneaks into his room through a window, he finds Aunt Polly there. Seeing his dirty clothes, she resolves that she has to make him work for his own good.
Tom is tasked with whitewashing the fence, and quickly gives up on the project, feeling overwhelmed by the size of the fence. Jim passes by on his way to fetch water, and Tom attempts to switch chores with him, noting that there are usually other kids at the pump, and it’s an unsupervised task. Jim knows he shouldn’t, but agrees to when Tom offers him a marble and a look at his bruised toe. The deal is quickly cancelled as Aunt Polly comes to make sure the boys are doing their chores.
After having escaped his Aunt’s wrath, Tom examines what he has on him, knowing he can’t buy enough time from another boy to avoid doing this chore. A boy comes by, pretending to be a steamship, and makes fun of Tom for having to work. Tom doesn’t claim he is work, saying that boys don’t often get a chance to whitewash. Tom then manages to talk the other boy into paying to have a chance to whitewash. A series of other boys do the same, with Tom ending up with an apple, kite, rat, lots of marbles, and plenty more.
The fence ends up with three coats of whitewash, the project only stopping because Tom had run out of the paint.
Though filled with disbelief at first, Aunt Polly is surprised to find that the fence is whitewashed as Tom has just told her about. She lets him out to play, giving him a lecture on the value of honest work. On his way out, Tom notices Sid using the stairs outside of the house and decides to get revenge for the night before by throwing dirt at him. He manages to escape before Polly runs out to see what has happened.
After running a pretend battle between two armies of children with a good friend, Tom is struck by the attractiveness of a new girl that he passes by in front of Jeff Thatcher’s home. Though he had just won the interest of Amy Lawrence after a year of efforts, he immediately forgets her. He attempts to impress her with some boyish gymnastics, but sees her walking away. Before she steps inside though, she throws a flower over the fence. Tom rushes near it, but picks it up elaborately with his toes while doing something else. He continues his tricks but doesn’t get a response from her and eventually leaves.
He remains exuberant during dinner, but gets his knuckles hit when he tries to take sugar. Tom complains that Sid doesn’t get hit when he does the same, but Polly justifies it by saying that Sid isn’t as much trouble in general. When she goes into the kitchen, Sid attempts to take some sugar, but drops the jar on the floor instead. Wanting to savor the moment of Sid’s punishment, Tom remains silent, only to get slapped when Polly rushes in. When Tom informs her of the mistake, she justifies her abuse by saying he probably deserved it anyway for something he did earlier.
He walks away, knowing that his Aunt feels badly, and he begins to imagine how terrible he could make her feel if he ended up dead. As his cousin Mary chooses this moment to arrive home from a country trip, Tom decides to go mope somewhere else, sitting on a log by a river and wondered if this new girl he was infatuated with would mourn him if she knew he was dead. He relished in the sadness of all these thoughts for a bit, then heads to her house.
He sees a light in a second story window, and proceeds to lie under it. Thinking about how melodramatic it would be if he ended up dying there, the window opens, and a maid throws out a bucket of water onto him. He bolts back home.
Back in their room, Sid notes that Tom’s clothes are wet, but doesn’t say anything about it as Tom looks particularly testy. He also notices that Tom doesn’t say his prayers before going to bed.
Sunday morning, Aunt Polly conducts family worship with some Scripture, and then has the boys learn their bible lessons. Sid has already memorized his verses, and Tom has picked out the shortest five he could find from the Sermon on the Mount. When tested by Mary to recite them, he is unable to. Mary promises a delightful surprise if he can, and he manages to do so. He receives a Barlow knife that while dull, can still scratch up wood. It’s this that he is planning to do when he is called to get ready for church.
After struggling against Mary to not wash his face, Tom eventually ends up clean and with his Sunday church clothes. Though he hates church, Tom is forced to go to Sunday school. Along the way, he runs into various children, trading them for tickets. It’s revealed that the tickets are part of an economy where children get an amount for how many verses they’ve learned, leading up to getting a bible once they’ve learned two-thousand verses. Though Tom has no desire for the actual book, getting one is a rare occasion that earns admiration- something he does want.
When the class is organized, their Sunday school teacher introduces an unknown man and his wife, along with the girl that Tom has gained a crush on. The man is a county judge named Thatcher, who is related to multiple people in town. As Judge Thatcher is given a tour of the place, everybody is making a show of being his or her best, including the judge himself. The teacher knows that the only way to make the school appear better would be to have a child receive a bible. Tom knows this and steps up with all the tickets he collected to get one. As he receives praise, the other children who traded their tickets are angered at being outsmarted.
Tom is introduced to Judge Thatcher. The young boy is nervous as he is speaking to the father of the girl he is enamored with. When the Judge asks Tom to name the first two anointed disciples, Tom stumbles and says David and Goliath.
The main service begins, and Tom is sitting on the edge of a pew away from a window to keep him from looking outside. The narrator goes through describing who makes up the congregation of St. Petersburg. He notes the silliness of having a mayor for such a small town, criticizes the church choir, notes the richest resident of the small town, and describes the minister’s preaching style and the effect it has on his listeners.
Tom’s boredom leads to him opening a small box he carries with him, inside of which is a pincher beetle. Tom drops the beetle after getting pinched by it, but can’t pick it up due to being scolded. A dog happens by, and after playing with the bug, sits on it and gets pinched. It runs around the building, passing by the altar and through the pews before getting tossed out by its owner through a window.
Everybody attempts to hide their laughter, but they’re all amused. Tom is as well, but is unhappy the dog took his beetle.
Not wanting to go to school, Tom considers using a loose tooth as an excuse to go to school, but thinks better of it and attempts to fake that his toe hurts more than it does. He wakes up Sid, pleading for him to not say anything about his terrible pain and groaning, but wanting the exact opposite to happen. Sid brings up Aunt Polly, who panics only for a second before realizing it’s a hoax. Tom immediately drops the pretense but mentions his loose tooth. Despite protestations, Aunt Polly ties a piece of string around the tooth and links it to a bedpost.
While a yanked tooth causes Tom some pain, he also revels in the fact that his gap now makes him the center of attention at school as he can spit with it. Along the way to school, he meets up Huckleberry Finn. Huckleberry is the son of the town drunk and is often dressed in the hand me downs of a man’s clothes, though he is a young boy himself. The mothers of the community dislike that he is a societal outcast, but that’s exactly what makes all the other boys want to be like him. Though forbidden to do so, Tom spends time with Huckleberry whenever he can.
Huckleberry is carrying a dead cat, explaining to Tom that he needs it to cure warts. After some disagreement about wart cures, Huckleberry explains a long remedy that is full of superstitious beliefs. One of Huckleberry’s wart theories is that throwing a dead cat after the devils that come to visit the grave of a bad person is a guaranteed way to get rid of warts. As a criminal named Hoss Williams was buried the night before, Huck intends to go that night. Tom plans to join him, telling Huck to come get him when ready. Before separating, Tom trades his newly lost tooth for a tick that Huck found.
Tom enters the school late, which causes him to be called up by the teacher. Seeing the hair of the girl he admires, Tom tells the truth about why he’s late instead of lying. He receives a whipping and is told to sit in the girls’ section of the school. Tom takes the opportunity to sit next to the girl. He makes multiple attempts to get her attention, finally able to catch it with a drawing he makes on his slate. He learns her name is Becky Thatcher and proposes teaching her how to draw. After some continued talking, the teacher separates them, placing Tom back in his usual seat where he can’t study now due to his positive anxiety.
Bored and unable to focus, Tom remembers the tick he traded his tooth for and brings it out. He begins to play with, herding it with a pin. His best friend Joe Harper- who is sitting next to Tom- joins in. Tom eventually draws a line down the middle of the slate, declaring a line of interference so the boys wouldn’t get in each other’s way while playing. After a fight ensues between the boys because of the tick staying on Joe’s side, their teacher steps in to settle the dispute.
Tom arranges to meet with Becky by having her sneak off from her friends. He does the same, and they meet at the school where he teaches her to draw. They share a piece of gum, and get engaged according to Tom’s perception of the idea, which ends with them kissing. As Tom excitedly tells her about the advantages about being engaged- walking together, picking each other at parties, etc.- he lets it slip that he was already engaged once to Amy Lawrence. Becky responds badly to the revelation, sobbing. Tom tries to reconcile with her, but she seems resolute in her grief. He eventually leaves school for the day, leaving Becky alone with her sadness until the class reconvenes.
Tom heads off to the forest to sulk. He considers death again, wondering how the people in his life would feel if he were gone. As he can’t die temporarily and doesn’t feel that his church attendance record is good, he fantasizes about leaving town to a become a soldier, tracker, or pirate. The last option seems most attractive to him.
He speaks an incantation and digs up a marble that he had left hidden earlier. To his surprise, he finds that a superstition that says that by burying a marble and leaving it for two weeks that all the marble one has ever lost will be found in that spot. He suspects that a witch has interfered with his ritual and confirms it with another.
After going back to find the marble he left behind in the dirt, he hears a small trumpet blast from the forest. He goes to his hidden supply box in the forest and takes a bow and a fake sword. He runs into Joe Harper, and they begin to act out scenes about Robin Hood. They play roles and switch around for a time. Once done, they complain about how there are no longer any grand outlaws, proclaiming they’d rather live in Sherwood forest than be President of the U.S.
With night here and Tom impatiently waiting, Huck finally arrives to pick him up. Tom sneaks out his room window, and they walk to the graveyard a mile or so outside of town. The boys discuss what they think the dead can and can’t do. They end up hiding near Hoss Williams’ grave so as to catch the devils that come by, but get scared as soon as they start to hear rustling. After hearing them speak, the boys start to recognize that they’re actually hearing three local men- Muff Potter, Injun Joe, and Doctor Robinson. The first two men are known pariahs, Muff Potter being a drunkard and Huck saying Injun Joe is a murderer.
Dr. Robinson orders the other two men to dig out the grave, and has them place Williams’ body in a sack and onto a wheelbarrow. Joe claims that Robinson won’t be able to take the body without another fee, even though Robinson says that two men have already been paid. Joe reminds Robinson that when he was wandering around the town asking for food, Robinson’s father had him imprisoned for vagrancy, so this extra charge will be compensation for that event. Robinson punches Joe down, causing Potter to start grappling with the doctor. Joe picks up Potter’s knife, and when Robinson finally knocks out Potter, stabs Robinson, killing him.
Tom and Huck run away unnoticed at the sight of the murder. Joe places the bloody knife in Potter’s hand, and waits for him to wake up. Potter- too drunk to remember anything- is fooled into believing he killed Robinson. Joe tells him to run, and he’ll take care of the scene. Potter leaves his knife behind, and after a few minutes, Joe leaves the scene as it is.
The boys run hard until they reach a tannery. After a minute’s rest, they discuss what the events mean, suspecting there will be an execution. Tom points out that perhaps Potter didn’t see that Joe murdered Robinson as he was struck at the moment the stabbing happened. Huck suspects that his drunkenness kept him lucid, but it wasn’t their business to go telling in any case as it might put their lives in danger. They then sign a contract with their blood declaring that neither will speak upon pain of death.
A dog howls, and they take that to mean that a curse is come upon them and bemoan their past, mischievous behavior. They spot that the stray dog is turned away from them though, so it can’t be them that are cursed. At this point, the boys hear snoring coming from the other end of the building. After some hesitation, they sneak over and see that it’s Muff Potter sleeping there. They leave, and notice that the stray dog is pointed at Potter’s direction, which lets them believe that it’s Potter who received the bad omen. Tom insists that the omen means death, but Huck disagrees, recounting a recent event where a person was merely burned.
The boys go their own ways, and Tom sneaks back in where an awoken Sid quietly watches him. Sid tattles on Tom the next morning, causing Aunt Polly to cry over the boy, making Tom’s dour mood feel worse with guilt. He goes to school and is flogged along with Joe Harper for skipping class yesterday. He spends the day absent-mindedly looking at the wall. He suddenly notices that his elbow is resting and a hard object wrapped in paper. It turns out be the brass knob that he tried to give Becky yesterday when she had been crying.
During class, the news that Robinson was dead had spread around town, leading the teacher to excuse the class for the day. Someone had recognized Potter’s knife at the scene of the crime, and another had seen Potter washing himself just after midnight. The washing was more suspicious than the time as Potter was known as a filthy individual. The entire town was searched for Potter, and then the sheriff sent out horses as he couldn’t be found inside the village.
The town head over to the graveyard, where Tom and Huck silently acknowledged each other. Suddenly someone spots Muff Potter coming to the graveyard. He makes no attempt to run away as the sheriff drags him to the crime scene. He cries and tries to claim his innocence- though no one has made any accusations- then falls to the ground when he sees that he left his knife there. He appeals to Joe to affirm his innocence, but Joe then describes the previous night’s events by framing Potter. When asked why he came back, Potter claims he felt like he had no other choice.
Joe repeats his testimony under oath, and the boys are shocked that God doesn’t send a lightning bolt down to kill the man. They suspect he has made a deal with the devil and plan on watching at night to see if he meets with Satan.
Tom spends the following week worried. Sid brings up at the breakfast table the fact that Tom talks and rolls around in his sleep a lot. Aunt Polly suggests that it must be the murder as her sleep has been restless, as well. Tom makes up a toothache as an excuse to tie up his jaw. Sid still listens though, taking off the wrap then placing it back on after spending time trying to decode what Tom is saying. Sid also notices that whenever the schoolboys find a dead cat and hold an inquest, Tom doesn’t participate- something he finds odd as Tom is often the first to lead in various activities.
Tom secretly starts giving Muff Potter things through the jail’s window to ease his conscience. People want to tar-and-feather Injun Joe for grave robbing, but his physical presences is such that no one will start the process. There’s also the fact that he never mentioned the grave robbing in his confessions yet, so there wasn’t any legal ground to start a trial about it.
Tom begins thinking less about the events of the murder and more about Becky Thatcher. She stops attending school, and Tom comes to learn that she is at home sick. He loses interest in play and Aunt Polly worry leads to her using various home remedies to make him feel better. She uses a water treatment that includes dousing him in water of various temperatures. When that doesn’t work, she begins using a medicine that tastes terrible. Tom grows tired of the routine of being distressed and decides that by claiming he loves the medicine and asking for it, Polly will get annoyed enough to let him do it himself. It works, and Tom slowly takes bits of the medicine and pours it into a hole in the floor. Aunt Polly catches the trick after Tom gives a bit to the cat and he causes a ruckus. Tom frames their subsequent argument as what hurt the cat could hurt him, and Aunt Polly concedes.
Tom spends the days at school pretending to be sick before it starts. The claim allows him to stand by the gate, alone. He then keeps an eye out towards Becky’s house, trying to see if she is coming. When she doesn’t, he sits in his chair downtrodden. Finally, she returns to school and Tom begins to run around and yell in an attempt to impress her. After a big show, she mentions how silly it is to act such a way, making Tom feel embarrassed.
Tom begins to feel that melancholic melodrama again and thinks about how sad he and the rest of the world will be when he has left to pursue a life of crime; he cries at the thought. He runs into Joe Harper, who is feeling the same way after being accused of drinking milk he never had. Joe had been on the path to becoming a hermit, but Tom convinces him that the life of a pirate was the more attractive option.
They enlist Huck to join them, and pick out Jackson Island as their base- a small strip of land that lay in the Mississippi River. The boys hadn’t considered who to pirate from, but they make grand plans for their base and spread word around town about it. The boys decide to meet at midnight with various victuals and take a raft across the river to the island. With new monikers set, they shout out sailing terms that they’ve read in books but don’t know what they mean.
On the island after a hearty meal, the boys imagine how the other kids would envy their new careers, and consider how much better it is than being a hermit. They then start falling asleep, with Huck going first. Joe and Tom still recite their prayers to themselves, afraid that not praying would incur God’s wrath. They also started feeling guilty about having stolen a rack of bacon and a whole ham. They had never taken things so large before, so their conscience weighs on them. They decide that during their piracy career, they won’t ever steal again, and they fall asleep to the compromise.
The following morning, the boys find that the raft has drifted away, but aren’t bothered much by it as they don’t have a desire to return home. After having a bacon and fresh fish breakfast, they start to explore the island. After a morning of swimming and walking, they return to their base on the island. They all begin to feel homesick, but none will admit it. At this point, they hear loud noises and go to shore to see that a steam ferry and multiple skiffs are upon the river.
They figure out that they’re being searched for, and feel validated in their choices. They revel in the thought that everyone misses them, and eventually have dinner and lay down. The mood darkens again though as they begin to realize how everyone back home is feeling sad. Joe attempts to bring up the idea of going back, but is shot down. Tom stays up as the others go to sleep, then writes two notes. He places one in Joe’s hat, along with various other trinkets of his, and then keeps the other note for himself. He then sneaks off and runs to the shore.
Tom swims over to the Illinois side of the Mississippi as it’s much closer than the Missouri one, and sneaks aboard a skiff. The skiff travels over the river, and Tom sneaks out again. He creeps on over to his house, where his aunt, Joe Harper’s mom, Mary and Sid are all sitting in a room.
He manages to sneak into the house and under a bed near them, where he catches their conversation. He hears them speak about how much they miss them and hears them crying, and it takes much of his will to refrain from jumping out and announcing himself. He learns that people think they drowned because the missing raft they had taken was found underwater. If the bodies of the boys aren’t found by Sunday, the church will hold a service for them that day.
As everyone begins to go to sleep, Tom is about to leave the note he wrote earlier on Aunt Polly’s bed stand. He decides against it though, and returns to the island by taking a skiff to the other side, away from the island. He gets back to base in the morning just in time to hear Joe and Huck discussing whether Tom has abandoned them or not. Tom bursts in and then tells them of what he did on the shore.
The boys spend the day running around naked and playing games, swimming. Once evening arrives though, Joe finally decides he wants to head back home. Tom tries to convince them to get excited about the island by suggesting treasure is buried there, but can’t get them into it. After much quarreling, Huck decides he wants to leave as well and gets ready along with Joe. Tom is left with no choice but to reveal a plan he has been hatching. The boys get excited about the idea and decide to stay on the island.
Tom and Joe attempt to learn how to smoke from Huck, and though they enjoy the activity at first, they soon grow sick. Joe makes up an excuse about losing his knife, giving the boys a chance to split up. When Huck goes to look for them a while later, he finds them asleep. When Huck starts preparing their after dinner smokes, Tom and Joe make excuses about eating bad food.
A storm hits the area during the night, and the boys- unprepared for rain- have to find shelter under a tarp they had brought. After it passes, they start up another fire and discuss the storm, unable to sleep on any of the wet ground. Once morning hits, they sleep on the drier sand. After a late lunch, the boys start to get homesick again, so Tom distracts them with the idea of playing as Indians. After running around and returning for dinner, they hesitantly share a peace pipe, as the rules of living as an Indian demand them to.
While the boys are off playing on Jackson Island, the town is mourning their absence. Becky cries over missing Tom. The other schoolmates reminisce on what was the last thing they saw of Tom and Joe.
The next day, the church holds its service for the boys. The minister ascribes only positive traits to their memories and everyone is in tears over the eulogy, including the minister himself. In the midst of the service, the three boys come walking down the aisle. They had been watching the entire thing from an unused gallery. Everybody begins to celebrate their appearance, with Tom and Joe receiving affection from their respective guardians. Tom insists that Huck receive affection as well, though Huck prefers no one to pay attention to him.
The next morning, Tom is at the breakfast table with his family as Aunt Polly starts to make him feel guilty about not having left them a message that they were okay, noting that Sid would have done so. Tom then begins to describe how he had a dream and recounts what he saw the night he came to leave a note. Aunt Polly doesn’t see through the fraud, thinking that Tom was having a prophetic dream and admiring him for it.
At school, Tom is the center of attention along with Joe, and they both celebrate it. Becky attempts to get Tom’s attention, but he pretends to be as indifferent to her as she was to him the last time they met. Becky eventually changes tactics and begins to spend time with another boy in the class- Alfred Temple. Alfred is the same boy that Tom got into a fight with earlier in the book. Tom is sufficiently jealous of her actions and goes off during lunchtime in a fit of rage. Becky realizes her actions went too far, and leaves Alfred by himself in confusion. After some time, Alfred realizes that Becky had used him to make Tom jealous, and his hate for Tom grows. He wonders about an opportunity to get Tom in trouble, and notices Tom’s spelling book as he is walking in. He spills ink on the day’s homework. Becky sees him do it and decides to tell Tom as a way to reconcile their relationship. She changes her mind though and decides to let him get in trouble as revenge for making her feel terrible earlier.
Returning home for lunch, Aunt Polly begins scolding him as she finds out through Joe Harper’s mother that Tom’s “dream” was actually just him recounting what had happened the night he snuck over. Tom attempts to explain that he still came to comfort her, though she doesn’t initially believe it. After some coercing, she accepts it and tells him to run off to school. She finds the jacket that Tom took to the island and is torn between whether to confirm his story about the note on the piece of bark. After much debate, she checks and finds that his story was true as the piece of bark that said they were okay was still in one of the pockets.
The encounter with Aunt Polly lifts Tom’s spirits, and he even apologizes to Becky on his way back to class. Becky doesn’t take it though, making Tom angry again. Walking into class, Becky sees the opportunity to sneak a peek at a secret book that their teacher has kept locked up but often reads to himself. Becky takes the chance and finds that the book is one on human anatomy. Tom sneaks up behind her, surprising her and causing her to rip half of a page. Becky runs away, convinced that Tom will tattle on her, though Tom doesn’t have any inclination not to.
Once the class was seated, Tom’s ruined notebook comes out, and he is punished for it. Tom doesn’t think much of it though. When the teacher soon discovers his book has been ripped, he goes through asking each child. As he is asking Becky, her nervousness is easily evident. Tom steps and takes the blame before she cracks, causing him to be held after school for two hours. Becky waits for him, and they reconcile as she tells him that it was Alfred that spilled the ink on his work. Tom vows revenge.
As summer vacation comes near, the schoolmaster becomes stricter as he wants them all to perform well during the ‘Examination.’ The Examination is a sort of performance for the entire town where the schoolchildren show off their knowledge through recitations and competitions. The youngest children of the school are getting the worst of it, so they group together and try to figure out some way to get back at the teacher.
On the day of the Examination, the students begin go on about the business of displaying what they’ve learned. Tom attempts to recite the ‘Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death’ speech, but falls halfway through to stage fright. The awful poetry goes on until the teacher decides to draw a map of America on the chalkboard for the geography challenge. It’s at this point that the boys unleash their plan: a cat tied up and gagged is lowered from above the teacher and steals his wig. The entire crowd erupts in laughter, ending the Examination and starting off summer vacation.
Tom joins the Cadets of Temperance as he enjoys their outfits, but is finding it hard to abide by the group’s laws. As the Fourth of July parade is too far away for him to stick to the rules, he pins his hopes on the dying Judge Frazer. After wavering health, it seems the judge is going to recover, forcing Tom to resign from the group. Right after, Judge Frazer then dies, letting the Cadets take part in the procession and annoying Tom in that he wasn’t able to participate.
The dullness of summer vacation starts to hit Tom, though it’s broken up every now and then by travelling shows and performers. All the while, Tom continues to think of the murder.
The measles take Tom to bed for two weeks, during which a religious revival hits town. When Tom gets better, he finds that all his friends- including Huckleberry- are up to charity and scripture quoting, leaving him with no one to play with. He relapses and is in bed for three more weeks. Once he is well again, he finds that Joe and Huck have returned to their old ways, eating a stolen watermelon.
The trial over the murder begins in earnest, and Tom feels as if every remark about it made in his presence is made to get him to confess what he knows. He confers with Huck on the matter, making sure again that they’ll never tell. Both boys discuss how bad they feel about Muff Potter being wrongly treated as the man has been kind in the past to the boys. As they continue their habit of sneaking him things through his cell, one particular moment hits their guilt hard. He thanks them sincerely for their little gifts and warns them of the dangers of drinking. He seems ready to take punishment for a crime he didn’t commit.
On the last day of the trial, witnesses were called to confirm the circumstantial evidence that made Potter look guilty. Potter’s lawyer did no cross questioning, giving the impression that he wasn’t interested in defending the man. The lawyer then calls Tom Sawyer to the stand, to everyone’s surprise. After nervously eyeing Injun Joe, Tom begins to tell the tale of what actually happened during the night of the murder. At the climax of his telling, Injun Joe manages to rush out and escape.
Muff Potter is let go and embraced by the community. Though Tom is joyed at the recognition people give him, he is also scared as Injun Joe remains loose. Tom had told Muff’s lawyer his tale the night before he testified, and though Huck’s involvement was known, Injun Joe’s quick escape had kept his involvement secret. Though rewards are offered and a detective is brought, no sign of Injun Joe is found, leaving Tom anxious.
Tom gets the inclination to dig up some treasure and enlists Huck to join him. After a misinformed discussion about treasure burying tactics, the value of jewelry, and the Kings of Europe, they decide to start digging under the many trees of a hill some three miles away. They begin to discuss what they’ll do with the treasure, with Huck saying he’d spend it all before his father got a hold of it and Tom saying he’d use it to get married. After many fruitless digging efforts, the boys decide that they’ve gone about the whole thing wrong and need to come back at midnight.
After another failed attempt during the night, Huck is on the verge of giving up. He then suggests looking in the haunted house nearby. They argue a bit about it and decide to do it. Once overlooking the house though, they become instantly scared and decide to head home instead.
Returning the next day to get their tools, the boys are anxious to get to the house. Huck points out that it’s Friday though, and apparently it’s an unlucky day. They instead play Robin Hood, and head home. The following morning, the boys head into the house to explore. After exploring the upstairs for a bit, they hear noises downstairs and begin to hide. They spot two men come in and notice that one of the men is a deaf and dumb Spaniard who has been seen around town lately. The Spaniard speaks- to the boys’ surprise- and it turns out to be Injun Joe. He’s speaking with the other man about committing a crime, and how they couldn’t get work done the day before because of the two boys up on the hill.
The men sleep until sundown, and while the boys make one attempt to leave, the creaky floor prevents any further tries. When sunset hits, the men stir up. They reveal they have six hundred dollars worth of silver buried under a rock in the house, which makes the boys forget their fears as they grow excited. As the second man is grabbing a bit of money, he hits upon another box and paws a bit of gold. Injun Joe notes that he saw some digging tools earlier and brings them by. They dig up thousands of dollars worth of gold, exponentially increasing the boys’ excitement. Injun Joe suddenly realizes that the pick had fresh dirt on it and becomes immediately paranoid. He tries to go upstairs, but the rotting wood of the staircase collapses under his weight. The men decide to take the treasure to a different location.
Heading home, they realize that the ‘revenge job’ Injun Joe had mentioned in the house may have been meant as taking his revenge on Tom.
Tom spends the night dreaming so often about the money that he convinces himself that none of the events even happened. He talks to Huck the next morning, letting him bring up the subject so as to affirm the truth of the matter. He does, and the boys express considerable regret at the loss of the treasure. Tom becomes insistent on finding out where location ‘Number 2’ that Injun Joe had said he would take the money is. The boys deduce that it may be a room number in a tavern, and Tom goes by himself to check out the two taverns in town. One claims that a lawyer occupies the number 2 room, and the other claims that their number 2 room is locked up because it’s haunted. This piques Tom’s suspicions and works with Huck to figure out how they’re going to get in. They figure to pick up as many keys as they can and try to get into the room through a back entrance. Tom then tells Huck to keep an eye out for Injun Joe and to follow him if spotted.
The night is too clear for them to attempt to sneak in for a couple of days, but they finally get a dark night where they feel confident enough to sneak in. Huck stands watch while Tom goes down the alley to where the entrance is. After some time passes, Huck gets nervous as he has seen no sign of Tom. Tom then comes running out of the alley, telling Huck to run, as well.
Tom then describes that while the keys were making too much noise, he discovered that the door to the place wasn’t locked at all. Upon opening it, he finds Injun Joe blacked out from drinking. The room is filled with barrels of whiskey. The boys decide that that must be the place where the money is hidden, and decide to wait until they’re sure Injun Joe is out before they try to go in again.
Becky returns to town and her and Tom spend time together. She plans the picnic party she promised long ago, and a group of the children take a trip aboard a steamer. Becky’s mom suggests she stay over at someone’s house, and Becky decides on the Harper home. Tom convinces her instead to go get ice cream at Widow Dogulas’ home instead. The thought of possibly missing out on hearing Huck call him up if he spotted something is troublesome, but he puts the thought aside. After frolicking and eating, the group explores McDougal’s cave, a large systems of underground tunnels by the river.
Huck was standing watch while the party’s steamer came passed by. He had almost given up hope on the effort when he hears a door closing. He spies the two men carrying a box and decides to follow them, suspecting that they’re moving the treasure. He follows them quite a ways until he thinks he has lost them. Suddenly he realizes they’re extremely near, close to Widow Douglas’ house. He hears Injun Joe talk about how her dead husband was the one that had him whipped and mistreated. He decides to get revenge on the man by hurting her, cutting off parts of her face and head. While the partner thinks it a bit gruesome, Injun Joe is intent on doing it and threatens to kill his partner if he doesn’t come along. They can’t act now though as it seems the Widow has visitors.
Huck manages to quietly sneak away and ends up running to a nearby house owned by the Welshman. Making them promise not to tell anyone he told them this, he informs them of what he heard. The Welshman and his three sons rush off armed with Huck back to the spot. As Huck waits behind a boulder, he hears the guns fire off and a yell. He runs away.
The following morning just before Dawn, Huck goes back to the Welshman’s house. He is happily invited in and learns that while shots were fired, no one on either side was hurt, and the two criminals managed to get away. Huck is asked for a description of the two men, and the Welshman quickly recognizes that they’ve been spotted before on the Widow’s property. The Welshman’s boys are sent out to get the sheriff and find a posse, and Huck is asked for a more detailed description of how he came upon the men. Huck doesn’t want to let out that he knows it was Injun Joe, so he continues to describe him as the deaf and dumb Spaniard that’s been seen around town. His story fails though as he reveals he heard the Spaniard speak. Huck hesitantly reveals that the Spaniard is Injun Joe.
Huck also learns that the box they were carrying with them wasn’t the gold at all, but burglarizing tools. He hides as Widow Douglas, and other visitors come in to thank the Welshman. He tells them that thanks go to someone else, but won’t reveal Huck’s identity as promised.
Being Sunday morning, the mothers gather to talk and learn that Tom and Becky aren’t at each other’s houses. No one noticed them missing from the boat, and someone suggests that they may still be in the cave system. A large search party spends all day and night looking for them without success. The Welshman returns after the first day’s search to find that Huck has a fever. He gets the Widow Douglas to look after him as he returns to the search. Three days of searching continue without any success. At one point, Huck gets up and asks the Widow if anything was found in the tavern where Injun Joe was staying. He finds out there was, but it was only liquor. He asks if Tom had been the one to find it, and the Widow begins crying, though Huck doesn’t know why. He goes back to sleep, wondering if the treasure has been officially lost.
The book goes back to the day of the picnic and focuses on Tom and Becky. They explored the caves like everyone else had, going with no one but each other down the various tunnels. They happen upon a crevice that leads deeper downward into the system, and they follow it, leaving smoke markings upon the cave walls to remember their way. They run into a nest of bats that are stirred up by their arrival and are forced to run away. In the panic, they didn’t get a chance to keep track of which way they had gone, officially getting themselves lost. After some despair, they begin to try to find a way out, attempting to conserve the few candles they took with them.
Hours go by, and they can’t find a way out. Tom insists on finding a place for water, and they do so. There, Tom reveals that they’re on their last candle. Becky weeps and they watch the last bit burn away. Waiting they hear some shouting and Tom attempts to shout back with no reply. Time continues to pass, and their despair grows. Tom takes a piece of kite string, ties it to an outcropping, then attempts to do some further exploration by himself as Becky seems resigned to die by the water. At one point, he sees a light and a hand up ahead and shouts. The light reveals itself to be owned by Injun Joe though, running away from the sound of the voice. Tom is terrified and returns to Becky, explaining the shout was just for luck. Though still scared of running into Injun Joe, his fear of being stuck there is greater, so Tom head off once again with kite string in hand.
As Tuesday afternoon hits, the town is convinced that the kids have been lost. Most all the folks looking in the caves have given up save for Becky’s father and a few men. That same night though, a carriage comes into town announcing that the children have been found. The town rejoices. Tom explains that after searching various tunnels, he just happened to spot daylight in one of them. Going forward, he sees a way out onto Mississippi River shore. He returns to get Becky, and they hail down a raft with some men. They learn that they are five miles from the cave’s entrance, and the folks on the ship get them food and make them rest a bit before returning into town.
The children end up in bed for a few days as the adventure has worn them out quite a bit. Tom visits Huck once he’s better, but isn’t allowed to tell any exciting stories as Huck is still sick. The body of Injun Joe’s accomplice had been found drowned. On his way to visit his friend, Tom stops by Becky’s house were Judge Thatcher and a few friends converse with him. Here, Tom finds out that the Judge has had the entrance door to cave laden with iron and triple-locked so as to prevent further accidents like this one. Shocked, Tom reveals that Injun Joe was in the caves.
As it turns out, Injun Joe had made it back to the entrance to the cave but had already been locked out. His starved corpse is found next to that of some bats he had presumably eaten. His bowie knife was broken, and there were scratches along the door, implying he had tried to cut his way out, though the effort would have been futile as a large rock also barred his way. He is buried near the cave, and his grave becomes part of the place’s attraction.
Tom visits Huck the day after the funeral and they explain each to each other what had happened on their individual adventures. As their conversation continues, Tom exclaims that the treasure wasn’t in room Number 2 of the tavern, but remains in the cave. They outfit themselves and head back to where Tom managed to escape the tunnels. He leads them back to the spot where he saw Injun Joe and finds a cross there as they had thought. They dig around and find that a stone was covering up a chasm at the end of which holds the treasure, a keg, and some guns. The boys leave the guns and kegs for future robbing expeditions and pack up the money. Once home, they borrow a wagon and head towards the Widow Douglas’ house, where they plan to hide it.
Passing the Welshman’s house, the boys are stopped by the man and told to follow him up to Widow Dogulas’ house. He carries their wagon for them, convinced it’s just old, heavy metal that they’ve gathered up to sell. Once at the house, family and friends meet them. They’re told to clean up and put on the new suits that have been bought for them.
As the boys are left to dress, Huck suggests escaping, since he has no desire for large crowds. Tom reassures him though. It’s at this point that Sid comes in. He reveals to them that the Welshman is planning to reveal a secret, and most everybody knows that it’s going to be revealed that Huck was the one that informed the Welshman about the robbers. At the dinner table, this is exactly what happens, making Huck even more uncomfortable at the attention he is receiving. The Widow Douglas expresses her gratitude, proclaiming she plans to take Huck into her house to educate him and save up money to put him in business one day. Tom says this won’t be necessary, since Huck is already rich. The jokes are quickly silenced as Tom brings in the bags of gold from the wagon. After explaining how they acquired it, the money is counted up to $12,000.
The boys’ fortune made public, many townsfolk start tearing up haunted houses and caves in search for their own. The found money is invested for the boys, giving them a dollar a day. Judge Thatcher’s admiration for Tom after saving his daughter grows ever more once he hears how he took a whipping for her when she had ripped the schoolmaster’s book. Judge Thatcher aims to make sure Tom has admission to both the military academy and a good law school, should the boy choose to employ himself in either or both professions.
Huck is taken in by the Widow Douglas. His life becomes ordered, clean, and he sleeps on cleans sheets and a soft bed. Unsurprisingly, Huck despises this life and goes missing for two days. The river is searched for his body, the town is scoured, but no one can find him. Tom sneaks to an empty hog shed behind the old slaughterhouse, and finds Huck there. Huck hates living with the Widow and wants to give up his share of the money if being rich requires changing his life. Tom then describes how Huck can’t be part of the robber’s gang if he isn’t respectable, as though politeness may not be a characteristic of a pirate, it certainly is one of robbers. The threat of not being included in the gang frightens Huck enough to go live with the Widow until he’s proper enough to become a criminal.
Edna arrives at Adele’s home at the beginning of her labor. The latter is dramatically denouncing the doctor and questioning why everyone has abandoned her. Doctor Mandelet arrives to help Adele and takes the situation as lightly as the nurse, despite Adele’s panic. Edna stays throughout the entire thing and feels uncomfortable at having to remember her own childbirth.
The birth finished, Edna bids Adele farewell by kissing her forehead. While leaning in, Adele- without provocation or context- tells Edna to “think of the children.”
Dazed from the event, Edna turns down Mandelet’s offer of a ride, choosing instead to walk. Mandelet directs his car to her house to meet him there and accompanies her. She thinks out loud about what Adele said, how it’s better to be awake than asleep but perhaps not at the price of children. Understanding Edna’s jumbled words, Mandelet offers himself as someone that can be trusted, and tells Edna that they can talk of things she never thought she’d talk about.
After Mandelet leaves, Edna stops short of going inside and instead sits on the porch. She lets her negative emotions dissipate as she thinks of Robert and fantasizes about touching him. Though Adele’s words struck her intensely, Edna decides that tomorrow will be the appropriate time to consider the consequences of her action regarding her children.
Upon entering, she finds that Robert is gone, having left only a note that reads “I love you. Good-by- because I love you.” Edna’s heart is broken and lies down on the sofa. She spends the entire night awake.
On Grand Isle, Victor is doing some repairs while flirting with Mariequita and describing the dinner party he attended at Edna’s house. As they talk, Edna herself comes from around the corner, disheveled and dirty. Edna has come by boat to the island with no company and notes that the place seemed “dreary and deserted.” Victor quickly offers her his own room, as it’s the only place ready to house people. Edna asks when dinner will be ready, as she is hungry, and says she would like to take a swim. While both Victor and Mariequita think the idea is foolish as the water is cold, Edna insists and asks them to bring her towels.
Walking to the beach, Edna doesn’t think of anything, as her night spent on the couch was where she had done all the thinking she needed to do. She had thought about how neither Leonce nor Alcee mattered, and that the only person she wanted near her was Robert. She realized that it was inevitable that she would forget Robert and move on, but she also knew that her children were shackling her to a life that she didn’t want. The narrator notes, “she knew a way to elude them.”
Along the way to the shore, the giant sea stretches before her, and she sees a bird with a broken wing floating down towards the water. Instead of changing into her swimsuit, Edna chooses to go naked instead and feels like a new person. She starts swimming out and doesn’t stop nor look back. She thinks about how Robert didn’t understand her nor ever would. Possibly Mandelet would’ve, but it was already too late. She continues to swim- growing ever more tired- and as she recalls childhood memories of the Kentucky meadow of tall grass and the colonel she was infatuated with as a child, she lets the sea embrace her.
Straff Venture is angry that Zane sent a group of his allomancers to their deaths while Vin still lives. Zane promises that he has a plan to take care of her. Meanwhile, Straff meets with Penrod, the new king of Luthadel. Penrod is planning to give Luthadel to Straff, opening the gates to him and handing over the kingship. Straff, on the other hand, doesn’t want to enter the city while Vin still lives. Later, Zane tells Straff that he has been poisoned again. Zane leaves, and Straff is forced to ride hard back into the camp so his mistress can make him another antidote tea.
Vin awakes to see that Elend is with her. He tells her that he is not king, and he reports that OreSeur, who was badly hurt in the fight, is currently digesting a new set of bones. Vin feels that Elend is now scared of her somehow because of the way she fought those allomancers. Vin goes back to sleep, and awakes to find Zane there. He accuses her, saying that she could have killed those attackers easily had she not been so distracted with protecting Elend and other innocents. Later, OreSeur visits Vin, in another dog’s body. They talk more about the Contract that binds all kandra. Vin uses brass and duralumin to push strongly on OreSeur’s emotions. Even though he at first does not react at all, with enough force, Vin hurts him very badly, and she felt like she were controlling him for a moment. She apologizes for hurting OreSeur, and he leaves to get some rest. Vin promise to never tell anyone what she’s discovered about kandra.
Sazed and Tindwyl continue to talk about the things they are learning. Something doesn’t make sense about the rubbings, written by Kwaan. It seems that Kwaan did not trust Alendi, but he also knew Alendi was a good man. But if Kwaan knew Alendi was good, why did he have his nephew, Rashek, to mislead or even kill Alendi? Elend comes in and asks for advice. After a discussion, he decides that being king isn’t about a title, but about doing something to help others. He returns to his closet and retrieves the white suite, the one made for a king.
Elend is hard at work, helping the people. He’s sending men out to dismantle the wooden parts of keeps and houses to use as firewood. The many refugees are cold and hungry, and he wants to help them. Someone comes with news that one of the gates under the river has been broken. That is how someone has been getting into the city and poisoning the wells. Also, other reports say that an Inquisitor is lurking about the city. Elend decides to go out and talk to Jastes, with the koloss army, himself. He rides out and meets Jastes, unable to make any kind of deal. On the way out, Elend manages to fight and kill one smaller koloss, earning the sword and pouch as his own. He looks into the pouch and discovers how Jastes is controlling the koloss. He’s paying them.
Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.
The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.
Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.
Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.
Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.
Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.
Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.
Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.
Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.
Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.
Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.
Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.
Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.