Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Student's Short Story: "Another Tom Sawyer Adventure"

(Graphic from The University of Virginia)

This 2006-2007 school term, my high-school composition class is focusing on creative writing. After having read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, students were assigned to write "A Further Adventure of Tom Sawyer," with specific instructions to imitate Mark Twain's writing style.

The short story below was written by M.B., one of the ninth graders in my homeschool classes. Enjoy!

Up in Smoke

The schoolroom was hot. Like a dungeon, it kept the prisoners closed in.

Tom and the rest of the children were miserable, and beads of sweat formed on all brows. He listened silently to the everlasting drone of the schoolmaster’s voice. Although it was only April, the day had brought a heat wave so amazingly warm that even water left outside for ten minutes began to increase so much in temperature that drinking it was out of the question. As the teacher droned on, Tom imagined himself swimming with Huckleberry and Joe. How nice it would be to just jump in the river and swim from morning until nightfall! Finally, with nothing better to do, Tom started to actually listen to the teacher’s lesson.

“And so, by adjusting a magnifying glass in just the right manner, you can magnify the sun’s heat,” the master droned.

With those words the teacher’s speech was no longer a drone to Tom’s inviting ears but like sparks of joy. A thought struck him: What if he could make a fire with a magnifying glass? He waited anxiously for school to end.

Once the master had announced that studies were over for the day, Tom rushed home where he anxiously looked for a magnifying glass. “I’ll be darned ef I dernt find that magneefying glass,” Tom said, searching under pillows and books.

Finally, his eye caught hold of something shiny. Under closer inspection, he found his desired object, let out a war whoop, and scrambled out of the house and toward the river.

Presently he came upon Huckleberry Finn, who was fishing. “Huck, Huck. It’s a long story, but, ya see, in school today I paid attention and…”

Tom couldn’t finish before Huck interrupted him. “Leapin' lizards, Tom!” Huck yelled. “You were payin' otenshun in class? Are you eell?”

“No, listen,” Tom answered. “I learnt that a body could make a fire with a magnifying glass!”

“No, cain’t be so.”

“But et's true, I think. You see, the schoolmaster says that you can a make a fire reeflectin' the sun with a magnifyin' glass.”

“Let’s see et dun then.”

Tom picked up a dry leaf and stood in the sun. He positioned the magnifying glass over the leaf. The boys waited patiently. Even Huck, the skeptic in the matter, was eager to see what happened.

But nothing did happen. The two of them sat for a minute waiting in anticipation.

Finally, Huck broke the silence, “Sorry, Tom. I guess that teacher of yers is fool of beens.”

“Wait,” Tom said. “Do you see that orange circle lookin' thang?”

“Why, I do.”

“What ef I pozeeshun et a lettle farder away?”

Tom did this, and to the two boy’s great delight, smoke started to rise; then, a small flame trickled up engulfing the leaf in fire. Huck and Tom leapt with ecstasy.

“I dernt boleeve et, Tom!”

“Et's a dream come true, Huck!”

“Tom, what ef we could make a bonfire?”

“That would be grand!”

Tom and Huck started to gather all sorts of leaves, twigs, roots, and sticks and piled them into a heap. After about fifteen minutes of doing this, they sat down and had a drink from the river.

“I sure am tahrd,” stated Huck.

“Don’t be tahrd!” Tome responded. “All we hafta do is light the fire.”

“By dern, let’s see that fire lit then!” said Huck.

Tom positioned the magnifying glass delicately over the middle of the pile where the leaves lay. Slowly, a tower of smoke started to rise from the pile, like ash rising from a chimney. Then, a small flame suddenly shot up from the middle of the billowing tower of smoke. The flame started spreading all over the pile, and in a matter of seconds, the whole array of leaves and twigs was engulfed in the fire.

“Woohoo! We did it, dint we?” exclaimed Tom.

“We shore did!” Huck cheered.

The two boys danced in delight, jumping up and down and doing handstands. They were so filled up with pride that they didn’t notice that a flame had escaped from the pile and was presently venturing up a tree. Their cheers of joy became cries of horror. They had forgotten to put up a barrier!

The two boys ran about throwing water onto the tree and now onto the bonfire too, for other flames were starting to be adventurous. They used their hats, hands, clothes — anything that they could soak or fill up to douse the fire. Finally, after ten minutes of drenching the area, the fiery terror subsided.

Exhausted, the two boys lay still on the ground a second or two as they contemplated their narrow escape.

Finally, the silence was broken by Huckleberry. “Well, that shore was fun, besides the whole fire satuation.”

“Yeah,” replied Tom in a daze. “Shore was.”

“Well, uh, seeyah toomarow.”

“Yeah, you too.”

The two boys walked away — Tom to Aunt Polly’s house, Huck to his hogsheads — and never spoke of their adventure again.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/02/2007 06:40:00 AM