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The Cat and the PainKiller (An Extract from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) 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.
Aunt Polly’s Experiments
Tom Sawyer was unhappy over the absence of his friend Becky Thatcher at school. There was no joy in life anymore and he put away his bat and hoop, this concerned his aunt. His Aunt Polly was a devotee of medicines and new methods of producing health. She began to experiment on poor Tom. The water treatment was new and Tom’s low condition was like a jackpot for her. Every morning she would drench him in cold water, then dry him hard with a towel, roll him up in a wet sheet and put him away under the blankets.
When this technique failed to work, she added hot baths, sitz baths, shower baths, and plunges. All of this proved futile and the boy remained bored. Many more silly cures were tested on Tom, each one failing. Tom annoyed with his aunt’s pestering and antics, fabricated a fondness for painkillers.
He asked for it so often that he became a nuisance, and his aunt told him to help himself and quit bothering her. She noticed the medicine decreasing but failed to notice that Tom was not consuming it but in reality, using it to mend the crack in the sitting room floor.
One day Tom was mending the crack when his aunt’s cat, Peter came eyeing the teaspoon and begging for a taste. Tom warned the cat to not ask for it unless the cat was ready to bear the consequences and take responsibility. Peter agreed so Tom opened his mouth and gave the cat some painkiller.
As soon as Peter had a taste, he sprang up couple yards in the air and started running around the room banging against furniture and breaking flower pots. The cat was on its feet and started dancing. He continued to cause destruction and chaos. When Aunt Polly entered the room, she saw him throw a few somersaults and jump through the open window with a few flower pots following him.
The old lady was too stunned to speak while Tom lay on the floor laughing. She asked him what had possessed the cat but Tom played dumb and said Peter was acting as cats act when they are having a good time. Aunt Polly did not completely believe Tom and she bent down and found the spoon.
She caught him by the ear and asked him why he treated the cat this way. Tom replied he only did what an aunt would do to Peter, if he had any aunt. This stirred something inside the old lady and she felt regretful of her actions towards Tom. This put things in a new light; what was cruelty to a cat was cruelty to a boy too.
She patted Tom’s head and explained that what she did was out of pure concern and she only meant the best for him. Tom regarded her feelings and said the painkillers had done the cat good. He had never seen Peter so happy and lively. His Aunt shooed him away and told him he did not need to take any more medicines.
More often than not, we do regrettable things, that we deem best for our loved ones. It is important to understand that people need their own space sometimes and not medicines can cure everything. If the Aunt had just talked to Tom she would have realised that he is not in any kind of pain or ill, but just missing his friend. At times, one just needs someone to talk to.