The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

How do the people of St.Petersburg seem to feel about the boy's absence? Why do they think the boys are dead?

On chapter 17

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On Saturday afternoon, everyone in the town of St. Petersburg is in a somber mood.. Even Becky Thatcher wishes that she had Tom's brass knob to remember him by. Regretting her harsh words from the days before Tom's disappearance, she breaks down into tears. Meanwhile, playmates of both Tom and Joe gather around the schoolyard, recalling memories of Tom. Disputes broke out over who saw the departed boys last, who had spoken with them last, who had played with them last. Tom and Joe were like heroes.

The next morning, the church bell begins to toll and the villagers begin to gather for the funeral. Aunt Polly, Mary, Sid, and the Harper family are dressed in black and reverently sit in the front pew. After hymns and prayers, nothing but praise is sung of the boys. The clergyman "drew such pictures of the graces, the winning ways, and the rare promise" of the boys while even the minister "illustrated their sweet, generous naturesŠ" As the mourners, congregation, and even the preacher begin to cry with such movement, the church door creaks open, unnoticed. Standing in the door are Tom, Huck, and Joe who had been hiding in the unused gallery listening to their own funeral sermon!

The families throw themselves over the "restored" boys, and even Huck is lavished with kisses from Aunt Polly. The event is almost miraculous, and Tom confesses "in his heart that this was the proudest moment of his life."