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15. CHAPTER XV (continued)
Tom disappeared under the bed just in time. He lay and "breathed" himself for a time, and then crept to where he could almost touch his aunt's foot.
"But as I was saying," said Aunt Polly, "he warn't BAD, so to say -- only mischEEvous. Only just giddy, and harum-scarum, you know. He warn't any more responsible than a colt. HE never meant any harm, and he was the best-hearted boy that ever was" -- and she began to cry.
"It was just so with my Joe -- always full of his devilment, and up to every kind of mischief, but he was just as unselfish and kind as he could be -- and laws bless me, to think I went and whipped him for taking that cream, never once recollecting that I throwed it out myself because it was sour, and I never to see him again in this world, never, never, never, poor abused boy!" And Mrs. Harper sobbed as if her heart would break.
"I hope Tom's better off where he is," said Sid, "but if he'd been better in some ways --"
"SID!" Tom felt the glare of the old lady's eye, though he could not see it. "Not a word against my Tom, now that he's gone! God'll take care of HIM -- never you trouble YOURself, sir! Oh, Mrs. Harper, I don't know how to give him up! I don't know how to give him up! He was such a comfort to me, although he tormented my old heart out of me, 'most."
"The Lord giveth and the Lord hath taken away -- Blessed be the name of the Lord! But it's so hard -- Oh, it's so hard! Only last Saturday my Joe busted a firecracker right under my nose and I knocked him sprawling. Little did I know then, how soon -- Oh, if it was to do over again I'd hug him and bless him for it."
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