The novel begins with Tom being hollered at by his Aunt Polly. It is made clear from the very beginning that Tom is a boy who often finds himself in mischief, whether it's skipping his chores or making a commotion at church, he is always up to something. Tom lives with his Aunt Polly and his half-brother Sid. Tom quickly finds himself head-over heels for the new girl in town, Becky Thatcher, but his plans to make her his fiance fail and he turns to the town-drunk's son for some relief. Tom meets up with Huckleberry Finn in the graveyard to find a cure for warts, but the two young boys both witness something they weren't supposed to that night. They witness the murder of Dr. Robinson by Injun-Joe. After witnessing the murder, both Huckleberry and Tom make a blood oath to never speak of what they saw that night ever again. This was until the boys hear that the murder is being pinned on Muff Potter, and with his arrest the boys' guilt grows immensely.
They then decide to runaway to an island alongside their friend, Joe Harper, to become pirates. As the boys rejoice in their freedom, they discover that their community now believes they're dead. Tom sneaks back into town to check on what's going on and finds his family grieving over him. The boys decide to return home the day of their funeral and they're met with great rejoicement by the whole town. Things soon return to normal, this was until Potter's trial begins and Tom caves under his guilt and testifies on the behalf of Muff Potter. Potter is aquitted, but Injun Joe escapes from the court room out the window. Summertime is impending, and Tom and Huckleberry go treasure hunting in a haunted house, as they're upstairs they hear a noise from down below.
They peer downstairs to see Injun Joe in a disguise accompinied by an unkept man, they discuss burying the gold in the house and almost do-so until they see the tools left behind by Huckleberry and Tom. They quickly become suspicious and leave with the gold in their arms instead of burying it. Huckleberry Finn is now following the criminal pair every night, and he overhears the criminal duo's plan to attack the Widow Douglas. He quickly runs to tell authorities and becomes a hero. Meanwhile, Tom goes to a picnic with Becky and their other classmates at McDougal's Cave. While they're there Tom and Becky get lost in the cave, and no one notices they're gone until the next day.
The town is now searching for the two but find no luck. Tom and Becky are slowly growing weak as they run out of resources for survival. Tom finally decides as the situation escalates to look for a way out of the cave. It only gets worse when Tom runs into Injun Joe using the cave for a hideout. As the searchers are beginning to lose all hope Tom escapes from the cave. The whole town rejoices and Becky's father locks Injun Joe in the cave until he dies.
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