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The Cat and the Painkiller

The Cat and the Painkiller (An Extract from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)


A Note about the Novel:


"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" is a novel about a young boy Tom Sawyer growing up along the Mississippi River at St. Petersburg. Tom Sawyer lives with his Aunt Polly and his brother Sid. He is up to all sorts of mischief. But very cleverly he escapes from the punishments that are given to him. He finds school life miserable. But after Becky Thatcher‘s arrival in town, he is a bit happy to go to school. Even that happiness does not last long as Becky falls ill and does not come to school for a very long time. Bored of school, Tom, with his best friends Joe Harper and Huck runs away to an island in the Mississippi called Jackson’s Island to become a pirate.


People in their home town think that they are dead, but to the pleasant shock of everyone they arrive at their own funeral. "The Cat and the PainKiller" is one of the episodes of Tom Sawyer where we find him playing pranks on his Aunt Polly, who loves him very much, but does not show her love outwardly in order to make Tom a good boy.


Now read the extract "The Cat and the Painkiller" to enjoy the pranks played by Tom Sawyer on Peter, the cat.


Becky Thatcher, his friend, had stopped coming to school. This disturbed Tom. He became unhappy. The charm of life was gone; there was nothing but boredom left. He put his hoop away, and his bat; there was no joy in them anymore and so his aunt Polly was concerned. She was infatuated with patent medicines and all new methods of producing health or mending it. She was an incurable experimenter in these things.


She began to try all manners of remedies on Tom. The water treatment was new, now, and Tom’s low condition was a windfall to her. She had him out at daylight every morning, stood by him up in the wood-shed and drowned him in cold water; then she rubbed him hard down with a towel like a file; then she rolled him up in a wet sheet and put him away under blankets.


Yet not withstanding all this, the boy grew more and more sad and pale and dejected. She added hot baths, sitz baths, shower baths, and plunges. The boy remained bored. She began to assist the water with a slim oatmeal diet and blister-plasters. She calculated his capacity and filled him up every day with quack cure-alls. He became fed up and so he thought over various plans of relief, and finally hit upon that of professing to be fond of pain-killer. He asked for it so often that he became a nuisance, and his aunt ended by telling him to help himself and quit bothering her.


She found that the medicine did really diminish, but it did not occur to her that the boy was mending the health of a crack in the sitting room floor with it.


One day Tom was in the act of dosing the crack when his aunt’s cat Peter came along purring, eyeing the teaspoon greedily, and begging for a taste. Tom said, ‘Don’t ask for it unless you want it, Peter’.

But Peter signified that he did want it. ‘You better make sure.’ Peter was sure.

‘Now you’ve asked for it, and I’ll give it to you, because there ain’t anything mean about me; but if you find you don’t like it, you mustn’t blame anybody but your own self.’


Peter was agreeable. So Tom opened his mouth and poured down the pain-killer. Peter sprang a couple of yards in the air, and then delivered a war-whoop and set off round and round the room, banging against furniture, upsetting flower-pots, and making general confusion. Next he rose on his hind feet and danced around, in a frenzy of enjoyment, with his head over his shoulder and his voice proclaiming his happiness. Then he went tearing around the house again spreading chaos and destruction in his path. Aunt Polly entered in time to see him throw a few double somersaults, deliver a final mighty hurrah, and sail through the open window, carrying the rest of the flower-pots with him. The old lady stood petrified with astonishment, peering over her glasses; Tom lay on the floor expiring with laughter.


‘Tom, what on earth ails that cat?’

‘I don’t know, aunt,’ gasped the boy.

‘Why, I never see anything like it. What did make him act so?’

‘Deed I don’t know, Aunt Polly; cats always act so when they’re having good time.’

‘They do, do they?’ There was something in the tone of that made Tom apprehensive.

‘Yes’m. That is, I believe they do.’

‘You do?’

‘Yes’m.’


The old lady bent down and took the teaspoon and held it out! Tom winced and dropped his eyes. Aunt Polly raised him by the usual handle – his ear – and cracked his head soundly with her thimble.


‘Now, sir, what did you want to treat that poor dumb beast so, for?’

‘I done it out of pity for him – because he hadn’t any aunt.’

‘Hadn’t any aunt! – you numbskull. What has that got to do that with it?’


‘Heaps. Because if he’d had one she’d burnt him out herself! She’d a roasted bowel out of him ‘thout any more feeling than if he was a human!’


Aunt Polly felt a sudden painful regret. This was putting the thing in a new light; what was cruelty to a cat might be cruelty to a boy too. She began to soften; she felt sorry. Her eyes watered a little, and she put her hand on Tom’s head and said gently:

‘I was meaning for the best, Tom. And, Tom, it did do you good.’


Tom looked up in her face with just a recognisable twinkle peeping through his gravity.

‘I know you was meaning for the best, aunty, and so was I with Peter. It done him good, too. I never see him around so since’


‘Oh, go ‘long with you, Tom, before you annoy me again. And you try and see if you can’t be a good boy, for once, and you needn’t take any more medicine.’


Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humourist, entrepreneur, publisher and lecturer. Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for his novels. His famous works are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


Glossary:

infatuated (v): inspired with an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone or something

plunges (n): act of casting or thrusting forcibly or suddenly into something liquid

quack (n): a fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill

professing (v): claiming often falsely, that one has a quality or feeling

frenzy (n): a state of uncontrolled excitement

somersaults (n): an acrobatic movement either forward or backward in which the body rolls end over end, makes a complete revolution

petrified (adj.): extremely frightened


Choose the most suitable option.


1. Tom was disturbed because _____________

a) he didn’t sleep well.

b) his scores were low at school.

c) his friend Becky Thatcher had stopped coming to school.

d) he had picked up a fight with Becky Thatcher.


Ans: c) his friend Becky Thatcher had stopped coming to school.


2. Aunt was an experimenter in _______________


a) trying new recipes.

b) designing fashionable frocks.

c) modern gardening techniques.

d) trying out new medicines.


Ans: d) trying out new medicines.


3. Tom used the pain-killer to ___________________


a) take care of his health.

b) mend the crack on the sitting room floor.

c) cure Becky Thatcher.

d) help his aunt.


Ans: b) mend the crack on the sitting room floor.


4. Peter sprang a couple of yards in the air as __________


a) he had a teaspoon of the pain-killer.

b) his tail was caught in the mouse trap.

c) Tom threw him out of the window.

d) Aunt gave him a push.


Ans: a) he had a teaspoon of the pain-killer.


5. Finally Aunt Polly said to Tom that he __________________


a) need not take any more medicine.

b) has to go to school regularly.

c) should not meet any of his friends.

d) must take medicines every day.


Ans: a) need not take any more medicine.


Identify the character or speaker of the following lines.


1. He banged against furniture, upsetting flower-pots and making general havoc.

Ans: Peter, the cat


2. She stood petrified with astonishment peering over her glasses.

Ans: Aunt Polly


3. ‘That is, I believe they do.’

Ans: Tom


4. ‘What has that got to do that with it?’

Ans: Tom


5. ‘I done it out of pity for him.’

Ans: Tom


Based on your reading, rearrange the following sentences in the correct sequence.


1. Since all her methods failed, finally she gave him a pain-killer.

2. He told his aunt that Peter had no aunt, so he gave him the medicine.

3. The pain-killer triggered adverse reactions on Peter.

4. It jumped out of the open window.

5. Tom was dull and depressed.

6. This incident upset Aunt Polly and she questioned him.

7. But, Tom gave that painkiller to the cat Peter.

8. So, Aunt Polly tried different types of remedies on him.


Answer:


5. Tom was dull and depressed.

8. So, Aunt Polly tried different types of remedies on him.

1. Since all her methods failed, finally she gave him a pain-killer.

7. But, Tom gave that pain-killer to the cat Peter.

3. The pain-killer triggered adverse reactions on Peter.

4. It jumped out of the open window.

6. This incident upset Aunt Polly and she questioned him.

2. He told his aunt that Peter had no aunt, so he gave him the medicine.


Based on your understanding of the story, write the answers for the following questions in a sentence or two.


1. Why did Tom lose the charm of his life?

Ans: Tom’s friend Becky Thatcher stopped coming to school. So he lost the charm of his life.


2. Why did Aunt Polly try different remedies on Tom?

Ans: Aunt Polly was an incurable experimenter. Since Tom was not sad, she began to try all manners of remedies on Tom.


3. How did the medicine diminish?

Ans: Tom used to pour it into a crack in the sitting room floor. Thus the medicine diminished.


4. Did Tom compel Peter to have the painkiller?

Ans: No


5. Why did Peter wish to taste the painkiller?

Ans: Peter wished to taste the pain-killer because he wanted it.


6. How did Aunt Polly discover the reason for Peter’s absurd behaviour?

Ans: Aunt Polly bend down and took the teaspoon and held it out. Thus she discovered the reason for Peter’s absurd behaviour.


7. What was the reason given by Tom for giving the painkiller to the cat?

Ans: Tom said that the cat had no aunt. So he gave it the medicine.


8. Why did Aunt Polly’s eyes water?

Ans: Aunt Polly felt that she had done cruelty to the boy. she began to soften and felt sorry, so her eyes watered.


Complete the summary of the extract using the appropriate words from the box below.


pain-killer, stopped, cruelty, remedies, teaspoon, school, summersets, Peter, pretended, dejected, health, crack


Tom Sawyer felt _________ as Becky Thatcher had stopped coming to _______. His Aunt Polly was very concerned about his ________ condition. So, she began to try various _______ on him. Tom became fed up with his Aunt’s brand of remedies and __________ to like the pain-killer. He started to ask for it very often. But, Tom used the medicine to mend the ______ on the floor. One day, Tom gave the pain-killer to his Aunt’s cat, _____. The ________ had an adverse effect on the cat and it started to jump around the room. Aunt Polly entered the room in time to see the cat throw a few ____________ and sail through the open window. She found the ___________ with a little pain-killer sticking to it and knew that Tom had treated the cat with it. She realised that, what was _________ to the cat should be the same to the boy too and __________ giving medicines to him.


Answer:


Tom Sawyer felt dejected as Becky Thatcher had stopped coming to school. His Aunt Polly was very concerned about his health condition. So, she began to try various remedies on him. Tom became fed up with his Aunt’s brand of remedies and pretended to like the pain-killer. He started to ask for it very often. But, Tom used the medicine to mend the crackon the floor. One day, Tom gave the pain-killer to his Aunt’s cat, Peter. The pain-killer had an adverse effect on the cat and it started to jump around the room. Aunt Polly entered the room in time to see the cat throw a few somersaults and sail through the open window. She found the teaspoon with a little pain-killer sticking to it and knew that Tom had treated the cat with it. She realised that, what was crueltyto the cat should be the same to the boy too and stopped giving medicines to him.


In the story we find a lot of American slang usage of English. Complete the tabular column with standard English. One has been done for you.


Finally hit ‘pon - Finally hit upon

There ain’t anything mean about me. - There isn’t anything mean about me.

‘Deed I don’t know. - Indeed I don’t know

Yes’m. That is, I believe they do. - Yes mam. That is, I believe they do.

‘She’d a roasted bowel out of me.’ - She had a roasted bowl out of me.

‘Oh, go ‘long with you, Tom.’ - Oh, go along with you, Tom.


Do You Know – Cat Facts

* Can can drink sea water.

* The ridged pattern on a cat’s nose is a unique as a human fingerprint.

* Cats can’t taste sweet things.

* A female cat is called a molly or a queen

* Most female cats are right-pawed and most male cats favour their left paws.

* Male cats are called toms

* Cats can make over 100 vocal sounds


Characters:

Tom Sawyer – Young boy who is bored to go to school

Polly – Tom’ aunt

Peter – Aunt Polly’s cat


Additional Questions:


1. "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" is a novel about a young boy Tom Sawyer growing up along

Ans: The Mississippi River at St. Petersburg


2. What is the name of Tom’s brother?

Ans: Sid


3. Why did Beck Thatcher did not come to school?

Ans: He was ill


4. Who were the two best friends of Tom?

Ans: Joe Harper and Huck


5. What is the name of the island where, Tom and his friends ran away to become pirates?

Ans: Jackson’s Island


6. Does aunt Polly really love Tom?

Ans: Yes


7. What is the pen name of the author Samuel Langhorne Clemens?

Ans: Mark Twain


8. What is the other famous work of the author other than The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

Ans: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


 

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