Chapter 25 Summary
Once again, Tom has become “a glittering hero.” The children all envy him, and the adults all praise him. His name appears in the town paper—a fact which makes him truly famous in the eyes of the world. People begin to mutter that he will be president someday, unless his mischievous nature causes him to commit some crime that gets him hung.
Now that Muff Potter is known to be innocent, the “fickle unreasoning world” embraces him. Potter is praised and cared for with great enthusiasm—just as he was recently condemned with great enthusiasm. In this case, however, the world’s good side is showing, so there is no point faulting anyone for it.
Tom spends his days in glory and his nights in terror. Injun Joe is free, marauding through Tom’s dreams. Only the most alluring temptations can persuade Tom to leave his house at night. Because of this, he does not get to enact quite as much mischief as usual.
Huck is just as scared as Tom. Nobody knows that he was with Tom on the night of the murder—since Injun Joe’s abrupt departure saved him from testifying—but he is afraid that he will be found out. Besides Tom, the only person who knows is Potter’s lawyer, and he is sworn to secrecy. Nevertheless, Huck does not feel safe. Considering the fact that Tom Sawyer himself went back on “the dismalest and most formidable of oaths, Huck’s confidence in the human race [is] well-nigh obliterated.”
As it turns out, Tom’s conscience forced him to confess the entire story about the murder on the night before Injun Joe’s trial. He went to Muff Potter’s lawyer’s house in the middle of the night and told his “dread tale,” and now everyone in the world knows the truth. Now Tom is glad—at least during the day—that he did the right thing. Still, he spends his nights regretting the decision. He knows he is not safe, and never will be, until Injun Joe is dead.
People have offered a reward for Injun Joe’s capture, but nobody has managed to make the capture—or learn much at all about the man’s whereabouts. A detective has come to town to help with the search, but he merely “moused around, shook his head, looked wise,” and announced that he had discovered a clue. This is an accomplishment of sorts, but “you can’t hang a ‘clue’ for murder.” Now the detective is gone, and as the days drag on, fear is Tom’s constant companion.