WWW 2.0: The Tom Sawyer painting-the-fence paradigm

"Say — I'm going in a-swimming, I am. Don't you wish you could? But of course you'd druther WORK — wouldn't you? Course you would!" Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said: "What do you call work?"

"Why, ain't THAT work?" . . . ."Oh come, now, you don't mean to let on that you LIKE it?" . . .

"Like it? Well, I don't see why I oughtn't to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?"

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth — stepped back to note the effect — added a touch here and there — criticised the effect again — Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said "Say, Tom, let ME whitewash [paint] a little."

Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:

"No — no — I reckon it wouldn't hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly's awful particular about this fence — right here on the street, you know — but if it was the back fence I wouldn't mind and SHE wouldn't. Yes, she's awful particular about this fence; it's got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain't one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it's got to be done."

"No — is that so? Oh come, now — lemme [let me] just try. Only just a little — I'd let YOU, if you was me, Tom." . . . "Oh, shucks, I'll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say — I'll give you the core of my apple." . . . "I'll give you ALL of it!"

Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the [boy who had pretended he was] late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. [Chapter II, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer]