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|Tom Sawyer Abroad||Mark Twain|
Tom Respects The Flea
|Page 4 of 5||
"Had he lost an upper front tooth?"
"Was his off hind leg lame?"
"Was he loaded with millet-seed on one side and honey on the other?"
"Yes, but you needn't go into no more details -- that's the one, and I'm in a hurry. Where did you see him?"
"I hain't seen him at all," the man says.
"Hain't seen him at all? How can you describe him so close, then?"
"Because when a person knows how to use his eyes, everything has got a meaning to it; but most people's eyes ain't any good to them. I knowed a camel had been along, because I seen his track. I knowed he was lame in his off hind leg because he had favored that foot and trod light on it, and his track showed it. I knowed he was blind on his left side because he only nibbled the grass on the right side of the trail. I knowed he had lost an upper front tooth because where he bit into the sod his teeth-print showed it. The millet-seed sifted out on one side -- the ants told me that; the honey leaked out on the other -- the flies told me that. I know all about your camel, but I hain't seen him."
"Go on, Mars Tom, hit's a mighty good tale, and powerful interestin'."
"That's all," Tom says.
"ALL?" says Jim, astonished. "What 'come o' de camel?"
"I don't know."
"Mars Tom, don't de tale say?"
Jim puzzled a minute, then he says:
"Well! Ef dat ain't de beatenes' tale ever I struck. Jist gits to de place whah de intrust is gittin' red-hot, en down she breaks. Why, Mars Tom, dey ain't no SENSE in a tale dat acts like dat. Hain't you got no IDEA whether de man got de camel back er not?"
"No, I haven't."
I see myself there warn't no sense in the tale, to chop square off that way before it come to anything, but I warn't going to say so, because I could see Tom was souring up pretty fast over the way it flatted out and the way Jim had popped on to the weak place in it, and I don't think it's fair for everybody to pile on to a feller when he's down. But Tom he whirls on me and says:
"What do YOU think of the tale?"
Of course, then, I had to come out and make a clean breast and say it did seem to me, too, same as it did to Jim, that as long as the tale stopped square in the middle and never got to no place, it really warn't worth the trouble of telling.
Tom's chin dropped on his breast, and 'stead of being mad, as I reckoned he'd be, to hear me scoff at his tale that way, he seemed to be only sad; and he says:
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