TOM SAWYER ABROAD TOM SAWYER, DETECTIVE
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Concerning the Carnival of Crime in Connecticut 309
me with wondering speculations, too, as to how this cub could have got his information. Of course he could have culled the conversation from the tramp, but by what sort of magic had he contrived to find out about the concealed cook? Now the dwarf spoke again:
" It was rather pitiful, rather small, in you to refuse to read that poor young woman's manuscript the other day, and give her an opinion as to its literary value; and she had come so far, too, and so hopefully. Now wasn't it?"
I felt like a cur! And I had felt so every time the thing had recurred to my mind, I may as well confess. I flushed hotly and said:
"Look here, have you nothing better to do than prowl around prying into other people's business? Did that girl tell you that?"
"Never mind whether she did or not. The main thing is, you did that contemptible thing. And you felt ashamed of it afterward. Aha! you feel ashamed of it now !"
This was a sort of devilish glee. With fiery earnest­ness I responded:
111 told that girl, in the kindest, gentlest way, that I could not consent to deliver judgment upon any one's manuscript, because an individual's verdict was worth­less. It might underrate a work of high merit and lose it to the world, or it might overrate a trashy production and so open the way for its infliction upon the world. I said that the great public was the only tribunal com­petent to sit in judgment upon a literary effort, and therefore it must be best to lay it before that tribunal in the outset, since in the end it must stand or fall by that mighty court's decision anyway."
" Yes, you said all that. So you did, you juggling, small-souled shuffler! And yet when the happy hope-