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by Carl Brewer last modified 2010-10-05 17:17

Who wants to help me paint lines at Blackburn on Friday morning?

“Say - I’m going in a -riding, I am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d druther work

- wouldn’t you? Course you would!”


Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

 “What do you call work?”

 “Why, ain’t that work?”

 Tom resumed his velodrome line painting, and answered carelessly:

 “Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know it suits Tom Sawyer.”

 “Oh, come now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”

 The brush continued to move.

 “Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. does a boy get a chance to paint lines on a concrete velodrome every day?”

 That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth - stepped back to note the effect - added a touch here and there - criticized the effect again - Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

“Say, Tom, let me paint a little.”

Tom Considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:

“No-no-I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Nicko’s awful particular about this velodrome - right here on the street, you know - but  if it was DISC, I wouldn’t mind, and he wouldn’t. Yes, he’s awful particular about this 'ol track is ; it’s got to be done very careful; I recon there ain’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it’s got to be done.”


“No-is that so? Oh, come now - lemme try. Only just a little - I’d let you, if you was me, Tom.”

 “Ben, I’d like to, honest injun; but Ol' Nicko - well, Studog wanted to do it, but he wouldn’t let him; Lucie wanted to do it, and he wouldn’t let Lucie. Now, don’t you see how I’ fixed? If you was to tackle this track and anything was to happen to it --”

“Oh, shucks, I’ll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say - I’ll give you the core of my apple.”

 “Well, here - No, Ben, no you don’t. I’m afeared --”

“I’ll give you all

of it!”


Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to paint lines. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy fisher for a kite in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to sing it with - and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling wealth. He had, besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jew’s-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spoon cannon, a key that wouldn’t unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar-but no dog - the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated window-sash.

And after all that, the Blackburn Velodrome had new lines!

But seriously, I need two people to help me paint the track at Blackburn, it will take about two hours and it's easy work.  I want to start around 7am and have it done by 9ish.  The other possible time is early on Saturday morning.  So, who's wantin to whitewash my Aunts fence now?

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