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Freckle-faced schoolboy Tom Sawyer, his cousin Mary, his aunt Polly and his smug half brother Sid live in a small town on the banks of the Mississippi River. Tom often gets into trouble with his strict but good-hearted aunt when Sid snitches on him or sets him up for punishment. One day, when Tom is caught playing hookey from school, Aunt Polly punishes him by giving him the tedious chore of whitewashing their fence. Tom, however, cleverly manages to convince his friends that painting is pleasurable, and they soon pay him with marbles, fishhooks and other valuables for the privilege of doing it for him. When Tom first casts his eyes upon Becky Thatcher, he falls instantly in love with her and spurns his first love, Amy Lawrence. While trying to impress Becky with his collection of "Bible tickets," which are earned for memorizing passages from Scripture, Tom purchases the tickets from his schoolmates and is exposed when he is unable to answer a simple Biblical question at the award ceremony. Later, when Mr. Dobbins, the schoolteacher, discovers an unflattering caricature of himself, drawn by someone in his class, Tom takes the blame in order to save Becky from punishment. As a result, Tom wins Becky's admiration. That evening, Tom and his half-caste friend, Huckleberry Finn, go to the local cemetery with a dead cat in order to test Huck's cure for warts. Soon after they arrive, however, they witness three townsmen, Dr. Robinson, Injun Joe and Muff Potter, the town drunk, robbing a grave. During the robbery, a dispute between the men erupts, and Injun Joe stabs and kills Dr. Robinson. In an attempt to pin the murder on the unconscious Muff, Injun Joe plants the bloodied knife in his hand and flees. Terrified by the murder they witnessed, Tom and Huck take an oath of silence and return home. After Tom is spurned by Becky and wrongly accused of spilling sugar at home, he and Huck, whose mother has forced him to wear shoes against his will, decide to run away to play pirates on Jackson Island. Tom and Huck, along with their friend, Joe Harper, dress up as pirates and play along the river, but soon learn that a search party has been dispatched to find their presumed drowned bodies following the discovery of their clothes along the riverbank. The boys camp out for three days until Tom becomes homesick and decides to sneak home in the middle of the night to spy on the grieving mothers. Tom writes a note to Aunt Polly in which he assures her of his safety and his love for her, but pockets it when he learns that his funeral services are scheduled for the following day. Tom, Huck and Joe witness their own funeral service while hiding in the church, but emerge when they become overcome with emotion. Later, at Dr. Robinson's murder trial, Huck and Tom overhear the defense attorney state that there are no witnesses to testify on Muff's behalf, which prompts the guilt-ridden Tom to come forward and tell the truth about the murder. Just as Tom is about to name Injun Joe as the real murderer, Injun Joe hurls a knife at him and flees the courtroom. Tom escapes injury, and during a school picnic at a nearby cavern, Tom, having won Becky's respect anew, takes his sweetheart on a walk through the labyrinth of underground passageways. After they find a treasure chest filled with gold in one of the corridors, Tom and Becky become lost in the cavern. While searching for an exit, Tom and Becky happen upon Injun Joe, who has been hiding in the caves, and run away from him. Meanwhile, a search party is sent into the caves when it is discovered that Tom and Becky are missing. A rockslide blocks efforts to rescue Tom and Becky, but they manage to escape death by sending Injun Joe off the side of a cliff to his death. After Tom and Becky find their way out of the caves, they meet up with the search party and are taken back to town, where they are celebrated as heroes.