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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 14: Happy Camp of the Freeboaters
Tom, Huck, and Joe have a wonderful, carefree time the next morning. They get up, go for a swim, and play for a long time in the water. They have breakfast of freshly caught fish. After breakfast, they explore the island. When they are hungry, they catch fish again and have lunch. In the afternoon, however, homesickness strikes them, but each one of them is too proud to confess their feelings. Suddenly, they hear a noise and go to investigate. They see a ferryboat shooting cannons into the water, trying to locate drowned bodies. They boys realize that the people are searching for them. At first they are delighted to think that their absence has caused such concern; but as the search continues until nightfall, the boys begin to feel bad. Joe even suggests they go home, knowing that his family will be terribly worried; however, Tom and Huck convince him that it is not a good idea. They all go to bed in a somber mood.
Tom cannot sleep. He cautiously gets up so as to not disturb the others. He plans to sneak back into St. Petersburg to find out the reactions to their disappearance. He also writes a letter of explanation and thinks of leaving it for his aunt at his home.
The boys have a wonderful time, delighting in the natural world that surrounds them. They play, swim, explore, and fish. Soon, however, they are struck by homesickness, which they refuse to admit to one another. During the day, they see the ferryboat searching for drowned bodies and realize the village is looking for them. It spoils their moods. Unable to sleep and feeling guilty for running away, Tom decides to sneak into St. Petersburg to find out exactly what is going on.
CHAPTER 15: Tomís Stealthy Visit Home
Tom wades his way through the shallow water, swims towards a ferryboat, and secretly catches a ride home. In the village, he reaches his auntís house undetected by using the less frequented alleys. He creeps into the house and hides under the bed. In the room, Aunt Polly, Sid, Mary, and Mrs. Harper are sitting and talking about the boys. They assume that the children have drowned. Aunt Polly and Mrs. Harper are consoling each other. Aunt Polly says that Tom was not a bad boy, only mischievous. Mrs. Harper wishes that she had not scolded her son for the disappearance of the cream without remembering that she had herself thrown it out because it had gone sour.
During their conversation, Tom learns that the search for the bodies has now been called off, for they believe the bodies have drifted down river and may never be found. If the boys continue to be missing on Sunday, they will have a funeral service for them. Mrs. Harper then hugs Aunt Polly and leaves. Aunt Polly goes to bed and says a prayer for the missing Tom, which brings tears to his eyes. Tom waits until she falls asleep, so that he can leave the letter he has written to her and go. Suddenly, an idea occurs to him, which makes him pause in his action and reconsider his decision to leave the letter. Once she is asleep, he kisses his aunt and goes out of the house.
On the island, Huck and Joe, who have not found the note from Tom, are worried about his absence. It is daybreak, and they wonder if Tom has deserted them. Just then, Tom makes a dramatic appearance, much to their relief.
In this chapter, Tom decides to go to the village in the dead of the night. He leaves a note for Joe explaining where he has gone and why. He wants to leave a message for his aunt so that she does not worry or think that they are dead. However, he decides to keep quiet for the present, when he comes to know from his auntís conversation with Mrs. Harper that a funeral service will be held for them if they remain missing until Sunday. Tom seems to have a new plan as he kisses his aunt while she sleeps and quietly leaves the house.
In this chapter, a new facet of Tomís character is seen. He is a considerate boy who does not want his aunt to worry about him unnecessarily. He plans to leave a letter for his aunt letting her know that he is not dead; but Tomís mischievous ways get the better of him again. He steals away from the house, not leaving the letter, but with a new plan in his head. The chapter ends in a bit of mystery, as Twain leaves the reader wondering what Tom is up to next.