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Grade 4 English Reading for Enrichment

The Fence

Tom Sawyer’s mother was dead, so Tom lived with his Aunt Polly who thought Tom was a difficult boy. One evening, she said to herself, “Tomorrow is a Saturday - a holiday for Tom. But he is going to do some work tomorrow for me.”

It was a hot summer, and the garden was full of flowers. Saturday was a beautiful day. It was a day for everybody to be joyful.

Tom came out of his house with a brush and a big pot of white paint in his hands. He took a look at the fence; it was three metres high and thirty metres long. He put his brush in the paint and painted some of the fence. Then he stopped. There were many hours of work in front of him and he was surely the unhappiest boy in the village.

Ten minutes later, Tom had a wonderful idea. He took up the brush again and began to work. He saw his friend Joe Harper in the street, but he ignored him. Joe had an apple in his hand. He ran up to Tom and looked at the fence.

“I am sorry to see you working, Tom.”

Tom said nothing. The pain brush moved up and down.

“Aren’t you working for your aunt?” said Joe. “You know, I’m going down to the river. I am really sorry you can’t join me.”

Tom put down his brush. “You call this work?” he said.

“Painting a fence?” said Joe. “Of course it is work!”

“Perhaps it is and perhaps it is not. But I like it,” said Tom.

“I can go to the river any day. I can’t paint a fence very often.”

Joe watched Tom for some time. Tom painted very slowly and carefully. He often stopped, moved back from the fence and looked at his work with a smile. Joe became very interested and said,

“Tom, can I paint a little?”

Tom thought for a second. “I am sorry, Joe. You see, my aunt wants me to do it because I am good at painting. She didn’t even allow my brother Sid to paint.”

“Oh please, Tom, just a little. I am good at painting, too. If you let me paint, I will give you some of my apple.”

“No, Joe, I can’t…”

“All right, you can have all my apple!”

Tom gave Joe the brush. He did not smile, but for the first time that day he was a very happy boy.

More friends came to laugh at Tom, but soon they all wanted to paint, too. By the afternoon, Tom had three balls, an old knife, a cat with one eye, an old blue bottle, and many other exciting things. He was the richest boy in the town, and the fence – all thirty metres of it – was a beautiful white. He went back to the house.

“Aunt Polly! I finished my job. Can I go and play now?”

Aunt Polly came out of the house to look. When she saw the beautiful white fence, she was pleased. She took Tom into the house and gave him another apple.

“Yes, you can go and play. But don’t come home late.”

Taking a second apple Tom ran off quickly.

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