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Tom runs off and over the hill behind the schoolhouse and into the woods. He finds a suitable spot and sits moping and wishing he would die – "if he could only die temporarily" (8.1).
He starts fantasizing about alternative career choices – becoming a soldier, a pirate, or an Indian.
He tries to use one of his various "incantations" to find some marbles he hid a while back, and is saddened and shaken to his core when it fails – despite the fact that the same trick had failed many times before.
He's trying out various other bits of hooey when he hears the blast of a toy trumpet. He flings off his oppressive clothes and pulls a toy sword and bow from the pushes.
Joe Harper, who's apparently also grown tired of school appears, and the two run through a rehearsed – it turns out Tom can memorize things when he wants to – totally crazy version of a duel between Robin Hood (Tom) and Guy of Guisborne (Joe).
Things go awry when Joe won't die; he's sick of always being the bad guy.
They come to a compromise: Tom agrees to play the bad guy for a little while if Joe will just die like a man this time. After that's all done, Tom resumes playing Robin Hood, and the two boys enact the hero's death scene.
Once finished, they hide their things and run off, convinced that they'd "rather be outlaws a year in Sherwood Forest than President of the United States forever" (8.35).