Study Guide

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Chapter 10

By Mark Twain

Chapter 10

  • Tom and Huck run away, scared out of their minds.
  • They take refuge in the abandoned tannery, a curiously spooky place to hide after witnessing a murder.
  • The boys want to tell the authorities what happened, but they know that Injun Joe will come after them if they do.
  • They decide to keep their traps shut.
  • In order to make sure that they're not tempted to tell, they write up a contract and seal the deal in blood…yes, blood.
  • Soon after they hear a stray dog howl – which apparently means one of them is going to die; the two promise to change their ways if they survive, until they notice that the dog's got its back to them. Apparently that means they're in the clear.
  • Just then they hear another sound – somebody's snoring.
  • They find Muff Potter sleeping in the corner…and the stray dog is facing right toward him. That's a bad sign for Muff.
  • They try to reassure themselves that such silly superstitions don't mean anything – but they've heard slaves talk about these things, and slaves know what's up when it comes to superstitions.
  • The two boys part ways, and Tom sneaks back into his bedroom.
  • When he comes down the next morning, he finds his family looking terribly sad. After breakfast, Aunt Polly lets him know how awful he's made her feel.
  • Tom begs her forgiveness, but leaves for school feeling terrible.
  • After he and Joe Harper get flogged for playing hooky, Tom sits down and stews in his misery for a while.
  • Just then he notices his brass knob sitting on the desk, and he's thrown into a deeper, darker mood.