Nick Pontikis Bibliography Page
But Tom's energy did not last. He began to think of the fun he had planned for this day, and his sorrow multiplied.
Soon the free boys would come tripping along on all sorts of delicious expeditions, and they would make a world of fun of him for having to work- the very thought of it burnt him like fire. He got out his worldly wealth and examined it- bits of toys, marbles, and trash; enough to buy an exchange of WORK, maybe but not half enough to buy so much as half an hour of pure freedom. So he returned his straightened means to his pocket, and gave up the idea of trying to buy the boys. At this dark and hopeless moment an inspiration burst upon him! Nothing less than a great, magnificent inspiration.
He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. Ben Rogers hove in sight presentlythe very boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been dreading. Ben's gait was the hop-skip-and-jumpproof enough that his heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and giving a loud, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat. As he drew near, he slackened speed, took the middle of the street, leaned far over to starboard and rounded to ponderously and with laborious pomp and circumstancefor he was personating the Big Missouri, and considered himself to be drawing nine feet of water. He was boat and captain and engine-bells combined, so he had to imagine himself standing on his own hurricane-deck giving the orders and executing them:
"Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!" the head way ran almost out, and he drew up slowly toward the sidewalk.
"Ship up to back! Ting-a-ling-ling!" his arms straightened and stiffened down his sides.
"Set her back on the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow! Ch-chow-wow! Chow!" his right hand, meantime, describing stately circlesfor it was representing a forty-foot wheel.
"Let her go back on the labboard! Ting-a-lingling! Chow-ch-chow-wow!" the left hand began to describe circles.
"Stop the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Stop the labboard! Come ahead on the stabboard! Stop her! Let your outside turn over slow! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ow-ow! Get out that head line! LIVELY now! Come-out with your spring line- what're you about there! Take a turn around that stump with the bight of it! Stand by that stage, now-don't let her go! Done with the engines sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!"
Tom went on whitewashing, paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said: "HI-YI!" YOU'RE on a stump, ain't you?" No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then he gave his brush another gently sweep and surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside him. Tom's mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work.
Ben said: "Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?"
Tom wheeled suddenly and said: "Why it's you Ben! I warn't noticing."
"Say- I'm going in a-swimming I am. Don't you wish you could? But of course you'd rather 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?"
Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly. "Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain't. All I know is, it suits tom sawyer."
"Oh come, now, you don't mean to let on that you LIKE it?" The brush continued to move.
"Like it? Well, I don't see why I oughtn't 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- stopped to note the effect- added a touch more here and there- criticized 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 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 that can do it the way it's got to be done."
"No-is that so? Oh come, now- lemme just try. Only just a little- I'd let YOU, if you was me, Tom."
"Ben, I'd like to, honest injun; but Aunt Polly- well, Jim wanted to do it, but 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."
"Oh, shucks, I'll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say-I'll give you the core of my apple."
"Well, here-No Ben, now don't. I'm afeard-"
"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 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. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with- and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a Jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar-but no dog- the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange peel, and a dilapidated window sash.
He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while-plenty of company- and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn't run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village. Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world after all. He had discovered the great law of human action, without knowing it-namely that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign.
The boy mused awhile over the substantial change which had taken place in his worldly circumstances, and then wended toward headquarters to report.
ICARUS & DAEDALUS PAGE TWO
continued from page one
To escape, Daedalus built wings for himself and Icarus, fashioned with feathers held together with wax. Daedalus tried the wings on himself first and was satisfied that his plan would work.
Before taking off from the island, Daedalus warned his son to follow closely behind him. He sternly cautioned Icarus not to fly too close to the sun, as it would melt his wings, and not too close to the sea, as it would dampen them and make it hard to fly.
They successfully flew from Crete, but Icarus grew exhilarated by the thrill of flying and began getting careless. The father and son passed the islands of Samos, Delos and Lebynthos, and the further away from Crete they flew, the more cocky became Icarus.
Forgetting his father's stern advice, Icarus flew too close to the sun god Helios, pulling the sun behind his chariot high in the sky.
The wax holding together his wings softened and melted from the heat and, try as he might, Icarus could not prevent the feathers from falling off his body. Furiously he flapped his arms, but soon no feathers at all were left and he fell to his death, drowning in the sea, as his helpless father with anguish watched his son perish.
His father cried, bitterly lamenting his own arts, and called the land near the place where Icarus fell into the ocean Icaria in memory of his child. The Icarian Sea, where he fell, was forever named after him and it is said that the great hero Heracles (Hercules), who was passing by, gave him proper burial.
Daedalus grieved for his dead son and then continued to Sicily, where he came to stay at the court of Cocalus in a place called Camicus. On the island's south coast Daedalus built a temple to Apollo, and hung up his wings, as an offering to the Olympian god.
But vengeful King Minos wasn't quite done -- he then went in pursuit of Daedalus, hoping to locate and trick the great inventor into revealing himself.
At each city he visited, Minos offered a reward to whomever could thread a spiral seashell, a seemingly impossible task. Eventually, Minos came to Camicus in Sicily and presented the contest at Cocalus' court.
Cocalus knew of Daedalus' talents, and gave the shell to him. The clever Daedalus tied the string to an ant, place the ant at one end of the shell, and allowed the ant to walk through the spiral chambers until it came out the other end.
When Minos saw that someone had solved the puzzle, he demanded that Cocalus surrender Daedalus, for he insisted that only he would have been inventive enough to solve the task. King Cocalus promised to do so, but he persuaded Minos to first take a bath and stay for some entertainment.
Minos agreed, and was consequently murdered by Cocalus' daughters, who had been totally impressed by the toys and gifts which Daedalus had bestowed upon them and did not want any harm to come to him.
In some versions of the myth, Daedalus himself poured boiling water on Minos and killed him.
Daedalus eventually left Camicus, much to the dismay of king Cocalus and his daughters, and ended up in Sardinia with a group led by Iolaus, who was a nephew of Heracles.
This tragic theme of failed ambition, complacency and hubris contains similarities to that of Phaëthon, the son of sun god Helios, who wildly and recklessly flew his father's sun chariot and was killed for his foolishness.
(Myth Man's note: in some versions of the myth it is suggested that Icarus drowned as he and his father attempted to swim to freedom, or that they built a boat and sailed away, only to have it capsize, leading to the death of Icarus. I prefer the "escape by air" version. Don't you wish that Icarus had listened to his father?)