Chapter 7 Summary

The morning in school seems incredibly long. Eventually Tom gives up trying to focus on his schoolwork. He searches his pockets for entertainment and finds the tick he bought from Huck Finn. He sets it on his desk and begins to play with it by prodding it with a pin to make it change directions.

Tom shares a desk with his best friend, Joe Harper, who is just as bored as he is. When Joe sees Tom’s tick, he is glad. He gets out a pin and begins to play too. Tom draws a line down the center of his slate and makes a rule that each boy gets to play with the tick only when it is on his side of the line. That works well for a while until Joe manages to keep the tick on his side for so long that Tom gets impatient. He reaches over the line, breaking the rule he made. This leads to a furious argument, which is soon ended when their teacher sneaks up behind them and whips them for ignoring their schoolwork.

At lunch time, Tom and Becky Harper both sneak away from their friends and spend lunch together. Tom helps Becky draw a picture on her slate, and then the two of them share a wad of chewing gum. Tom asks Becky if she has ever been engaged, but she does not know what that means. He explains that if a girl and a boy kiss and promise to love each other forever and get married when they grow up, then they are engaged. He insists that being engaged is fun. They will always choose each other as partners, and they will walk to and from school together every day—“when there ain’t anybody looking.” Eventually Becky consents. After the kiss, Tom tells her cheerfully that they are going to have a wonderful time, just like he did when he was engaged to Amy Lawrence.

Becky is appalled to learn that Tom has been engaged before. She begins to cry, and she pushes him away when he tries to comfort her. Tom paces around feeling badly, and he decides to try to make up. He offers Becky his prize possession, a beautiful brass knob, but she slaps it out of his hand. Hurt, Tom runs away and does not return to school for the rest of the day. When he is gone, Becky begins to feel sorry, and she cries again—this time because she wants Tom back.