After breakfast his aunt took him aside, and Tom almost brightened in
the hope that he was going to be flogged; but it was not so. His aunt
wept over him and asked him how he could go and break her old heart so;
and finally told him to go on, and ruin himself and bring her gray hairs
with sorrow to the grave, for it was no use for her to try any more.
This was worse than a thousand whippings, and Tom's heart was sorer now
than his body. He cried, he pleaded for forgiveness, promised to reform
over and over again, and then received his dismissal, feeling that
he had won but an imperfect forgiveness and established but a feeble
He left the presence too miserable to even feel revengeful toward
Sid; and so the latter's prompt retreat through the back gate was
unnecessary. He moped to school gloomy and sad, and took his flogging,
along with Joe Harper, for playing hookey the day before, with the
air of one whose heart was busy with heavier woes and wholly dead to
trifles. Then he betook himself to his seat, rested his elbows on his
desk and his jaws in his hands, and stared at the wall with the stony
stare of suffering that has reached the limit and can no further go.
His elbow was pressing against some hard substance. After a long time
he slowly and sadly changed his position, and took up this object with
a sigh. It was in a paper. He unrolled it. A long, lingering, colossal
sigh followed, and his heart broke. It was his brass andiron knob!