TOM TELLS THE TRUTH.
This was a new aspect of the thing. His smartness of the morning had seemed to Tom a good joke before, and very ingenious. It merely looked mean and shabby now. He hung his head and could not think of anything to say for a moment. Then he said :
"Auntie, I wish I hadn't done it—but I didn't think."
" O, child you never think. You never think of anything but your own selfishness. You could think to come all the way over here from Jackson's island in the night to laugh at our troubles, and you could think to fool me with a lie about a dream ; but you couldn't ever think to pity us and save us from sorrow."
"Auntie, I know now it was mean, but I didn't mean to be mean. I didn't, honest. And besides I didn't come over here to laugh at you that night."
" What did you come for, then ? "
" It was to tell you not to be uneasy about us, because we hadn't got drowned."
" Tom, Tom, I would be the thankfullest soul in this world if I could believe you ever had as good a thought as that, but you know you never did— and I know it, Tom."
" Indeed and 'deed I did, auntie—I wish I may never stir if I didn't."
" O, Tom, don't lie—don't do it. It only makes things a hundred times worse."
"It ain't a lie, auntie, it's the truth. I wanted to keep you from grieving— that was all that made me come."
" I'd give the whole world to believe that—it would cover up a power of sins Tom. I'd 'most be glad you'd run off and acted so bad. But it aint reasonable ; because, why didn't you tell me, child ? "
" Why, you see, auntie, when you got to talking about the funeral, I just got all full of the idea of our coming and hiding in the church, and I couldn't somehow bear to spoil it. So I just put the bark back in my pocket and kept mum."
" What bark ? "
" The bark I had wrote on to tell you we'd gone pirating. I wish, now, you'd waked up when I kissed you—I do, honestI'