At the end of chapter 1 in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom is caught by his Aunt Polly sneaking into the house through the window late at night. When she sees that his clothes are a mess, she decides "to turn his Saturday holiday into captivity at hard labor." In other words, she makes him whitewash the fence in front of their house. Tom hates this chore and feels even worse when other boys start passing by, headed off to do fun things with their Saturday morning while he is hard at work. At first, he tries to trade chores with Jim, who has the more fun job of going to fetch water. Aunt Polly puts a stop to it.
Then he thinks about trading the marbles and other small treasures in his pocket to the other boys to get them to do his chores while he goes to play, but he decides he doesn't have anything valuable enough to get someone to take over the job.
Soon, Tom comes up with an idea. When the first of his friends, Ben, walks by on his way to go swimming, Tom pretends to be totally absorbed in painting the fence. When Ben comments with sympathy that Tom has to work instead of going with him, Tom asks, "Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?" He claims to like it and goes back to painting. Ben asks for a chance to paint, too. Tom pretends to be reluctant but lets Ben take a turn. Eventually, the boys are giving their best toys to Tom for the opportunity to whitewash the fence.
Tom is able to convince his friends that they want to paint the fence by pretending to enjoy it himself and pretending to be reluctant to give it up. When they see how much he is enjoying the job, the other boys can't wait to give it a try!