Tom Considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:
“No-no-I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly’s awful particular about this fence - right here on the street, you know - but if it was the back fence, I wouldn’t mind, andshewouldn’t. Yes, she’s awful particular about this fence; 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, ifyouwas me, Tom.”
“Ben, I’d like to, honest injun; but Aunt Polly - well, Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn’t let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn’t let Sid. Now, don’t you see how I’ fixed? If you was to tackle this fence 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 youallof 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 whitewash. 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.
He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while - plenty of company - and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn’t run out of whitewash, he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.
(I cut and pasted this from another site, so any errors originate there)