And now at this moment, when hope was dead, Tom Sawyer came forward with
nine yellow tickets, nine red tickets, and ten blue ones, and demanded
a Bible. This was a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. Walters was not
expecting an application from this source for the next ten years. But
there was no getting around it--here were the certified checks, and they
were good for their face. Tom was therefore elevated to a place with
the Judge and the other elect, and the great news was announced from
headquarters. It was the most stunning surprise of the decade, and
so profound was the sensation that it lifted the new hero up to the
judicial one's altitude, and the school had two marvels to gaze upon
in place of one. The boys were all eaten up with envy--but those that
suffered the bitterest pangs were those who perceived too late that they
themselves had contributed to this hated splendor by trading tickets to
Tom for the wealth he had amassed in selling whitewashing privileges.
These despised themselves, as being the dupes of a wily fraud, a
guileful snake in the grass.
The prize was delivered to Tom with as much effusion as the
superintendent could pump up under the circumstances; but it lacked
somewhat of the true gush, for the poor fellow's instinct taught him
that there was a mystery here that could not well bear the light,
perhaps; it was simply preposterous that this boy had warehoused two
thousand sheaves of Scriptural wisdom on his premises--a dozen would
strain his capacity, without a doubt.