or, Making a Start
And are you really and truly a fool? asked Tom. Page 56.
IN WHICH THE HERO OF THE STORY IS REPRESENTED IN A DOUBTFUL LIGHT
IN WHICH TOM BY A SERIES OF MISADVENTURES BRINGS DOWN THE WRATH OF HIS FATHER
IN SUCH WISE THAT THE AUTHOR, FOR FEAR OF FORFEITING TOMS CHANCES OF BECOMING
A HERO IN THE READERS EYES, DISCREETLY VEILS WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED WHEN
JUSTICE WAS ADMINISTERED
Tommydo you hear me? Get up this moment, sir. Do you think this
house is a hotel? Every ones at breakfast except yourself.
Miss Meadow, Tom Playfairs maternal aunt, stood without the door of Master
Playfairs sleeping apartment. She paused for a moment, partly to gain
her breath (having come up three pairs of stairs to arouse Tom) and partly to
await some reply from our sleeping hero. The silence, however, was simply emphasized
by the ticking of the great clock in the hall.
Tommy! she resumed at length, in a higher key, do you hear
Her strained ears caught the dull sound as of some one turning lazily in his
Now youre awake, sir, jump right up, and dress for your breakfast.
Sho! scat! came a yawning voice from the room.
Dear me! cried poor Miss Meadow, the boy doesnt mind
me in the least.
Whats the trouble, Jane? queried Mr. Playfair, who just then
issued from his room.
I cant get that Tommy out of bed. Hes growing worse every
day, George. Last week he was late for school five times.
Ill fix that, Jane, said Mr. Playfair. And he took one step
toward Toms sleeping-room, when the door of that apartment opened a few
inches, discovering a young face peering anxiously from beneath a mass of tangled
Pa, said the apparition, Im dressing just as fast as
I know how. I heard you, auntie, and Im coming right away.
Then the door closed. Tom, it must be explained, had been composing himself
for another nap, when the whispered dialogue between his aunt and his father
had brought him out of bed with most unwonted celerity. The wily lad deemed
it best not to wait for an order from his father. Hence the apparition.
If you are not at the breakfast table in two minutes, sir, you shall hear
and with these sternly delivered words Mr. Playfair conducted Miss Meadow to
breakfast. Little more than a minute later, a stout, healthy, dark-complexioned
lad of ten emerged from his room ready and eager for the labor and heat of the
day. His rosy face and jet-black hair gave token of a hasty toilet. His shoes
were partially buttoned, his sturdy legs were encased in a pair of bright red
stockings and rather tight knickerbockers, and his chubby cheeks wore an air
of serenity, which coupled with his naturally handsome features made him a pleasing
sight to all lovers of the genuine American boy.
Hastily descending the stairs (which he did by taking from three to four steps
at a bound), Tom very quickly presented himself in the dining room, and ignoring
the presence of the cat, in the teasing of which he spent a considerable portion
of his valuable time, he seated himself at table, and fell to with great good
will. But trouble was brewing. Besides Mr. Playfair and Miss Meadow, there was
at table a young man, brother to Toms aunt, and the bane of our heros
life. Mr. Charles Meadow was not a bad young man, but he had, despite this negative
good quality, a large and constantly increasing stock of small faults, one of
which was an inordinate delight in teasing and browbeating Tom. It is fair to
say, however, that in the indulgence of this fault Mr. Meadow did not always
come off with flying colors. Tom contrived to gain a victory now and then, and
thus added a zest to the domestic war, which would otherwise have been too onesided
to be interesting. Strangely enough, Mr. Playfair held himself, in general,
strictly neutral; and it was only when the campaign gave signs of unusual bitterness
that he felt himself called upon to interfere. On the present occasion young
Mr. Meadow had been awaiting with ill-concealed anxiety Toms appearance.
Oh, so here you are at last, are you? he began as Tom seated himself
at the table. In the tranquility of a healthy appetite applied to its proper
purpose, Tom ignored the enemys hostile flag.
Look here, young man, continued Mr. Meadow, were you at my
room again last night?
How could a fellow get in your old room when you had it locked?
queried Tom with virtuous indignation.
Never mind the how, but did you go into my room last night?
Say, Aunt Jane, please put a little more sugar in this coffee. You never
do give me enough.
What I want to know, pursued the unrelenting uncle, is whether
you went into my room last night.
If you stayed at home, and went to bed early, instead of running round
the town nights, answered Tom, still desirous of shifting the battle-ground,
you wouldnt be asking such questions.
At this moment Mary the cook entered the dining-room with a plate of pancakes.
If Tom had a preference, it was for this dish.
Whoop! he cried, and his eyes glistened. A smile of triumph passed
over Mr. Meadows countenance; just as Tom was about to help himself liberally
to the food of his preference, his persecutor took possession of the plate,
and having helped Mr. Playfair and Miss Meadow to several cakes, he placed the
rest upon his own plate.
Tom waxed angry.
Oh! you think youre funny, dont you? May be you dont
use hair-dye for that strawcolored mustache of yoursI spelled it on a
Mr. Playfair smile, Miss Meadow tittered, Mr. Meadow blushed deeply. Recovering
himself, he returned to the charge.
Aha! he cried, directing his forefinger at Tom. So you have
been in my room?
I was Toms turn to blush; he was fairly caught. How did you get
in, sir? continued Mr. Meadow, pursuing his advantage.
Button-hook, answered Tom, with the falling inflection.
Exactlythats just what I thought, and thats just the
way you ruined the lock of the pantry last week.
Mr. Playfairs face took on an air of concern; he glanced severely at the
Well, drawled Tom, I guess it isnt fair to lock up ripe apples.
They dont give a fellow any show in this house.
Tommy!an electric shock seemed to convulse our little pantry-burglar
at the low, stern tones of his fathers voice,Tommy, have you
been forcing locks with a buttonhook again?
The roses in Toms cheeks grew out of all bounds, till the roots
of his hair were stirred; he dropped his knife and fork, and with a despairing
expression hung his head.
This is getting too bad, Mr. Playfair continued.
I dont like to say it, but such conduct is more fit for a young
thief than for a little boy whom his father wishes to make a gentleman.
At the word thief there was a subdued boo-hoo, followed by the sound
of heavy breathing.
You may well cry, sir, pursued the parent, for you have every
reason to be ashamed of yourself.
I j-j-just d-d-did it for f-fun, he sobbed.
Oh, youre exceedingly funny! broke in Mr. Meadow with infinite
This last remark filled his cup of sorrow to overflowing; stifling an incipient
sob and muttering that he didnt want no breakfast, he departed
into the welcome solitude of the hall. The word thief still rang
in his ears, and sigh upon sigh bursting at short intervals from his passion-racked
testified his appreciation of the term. Presently Mr. Meadow, on his way down
town, where he held the honorable position of assistant book-keeper in a St.
Louis hardware store, issued from the dining-room. At the sight of him, Toms
grief hardened into the sterner form of anger.
Youll pay for this, Mr. Give-away, he muttered, shaking a
diminutive fist at Mr. Meadow. Im going to see Miss Larkin todayI
will, I will!and Ill just tell her all the mean things you say to
me, how your mustache is dyedsee if I dont,Ill spoil
your chances there.
Mr. Meadow, who had a soft spot in his heart (devoted almost exclusively to
said Miss Larkin), was taken back not a little at this threat.
You young scamp, he roared with more earnestness than dignity, if
you go near that young lady with any of your wretched stories, Ill give
you a cowhiding.
Ugh! you give-away! cried Tom with ineffable disgust.
So, sir; thats the language you use to your uncle, said Mr.
Playfair, who as he opened the dining-room door had caught these words.
Go up to your room, sir, and dont leave it till nine oclock.
Jane, he continued, looking into the dining-room, please tell Tommy
when it is nine.
Mr. Playfair left the house with a stern cast of countenance. Tom was scarcely
five when his mother died. The boy was good but the want of a mothers
care and refining influence was very evident. Then too, Mr. Playfair reflected,
the child stood in great danger of having his disposition ruined. Petted by
Miss Meadow, he was growing selfish; teased by Mr. Meadow, he was becoming bold.
Yes, he muttered, I shall have to take some decisive step,
or the boy will be spoiled.
The mournful wail that swept at dismal intervals through Mr. Playfairs
house touched the sympathetic chord of compassion in the heartstrings of gentle
Aunt Jane. Stealing softly up to Toms room, she entered on tiptoe. Master
Tom, his hair dishevelled, and the channels of grief plainly traced upon his
cheeks, was lying prone upon his bed. The sight of her compassionate face opened
a new flood of tears.
Dont cry, Tommy, she said softly. I wish I was dead,
cried that young gentleman.
Now, now, Tommy, exclaimed the horrified and too credulous aunt,
dont talk that way: it is sinful, and Im sure you dont
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The son of Irish immigrant parents, Francis J. Finn, S.J. was born on October
4, 1859 in St. Louis, Missouri; there he grew up, attending parochial schools.
As a boy, Francis was deeply impressed with Cardinal Wisemans famous novel
of the early Christian martyrs, Fabiola. After that, religion really began to
mean something to him. Eleven-year-old Francis was a voracious reader; he read
the works of Charles Dickens, devouring Nicholas Nickleby and The Pickwick Papers.
From his First Communion at age 12, Francis began to desire to become a Jesuit
priest; but then his fervor cooled, his grades dropped, and his vocation might
have been lost except for Fr. Charles Coppens. Fr. Coppens urged Francis to
apply himself to his Latin, to improve it by using an all-Latin prayerbook,
and to read good Catholic books. Fr. Finn credited the saving of his vocation
to this advice and to his membership in the Sodality of Our Lady. Francis began
his Jesuit novitiate and seminary studies on March 24, 1879. As a young Jesuit
scholastic, he suffered from repeated bouts of sickness. He would be sent home
to recover, would return in robust health, then would come down with another
ailment. Normally this would have been seen as a sign that he did not have a
vocation, yet his superiors kept him on. Fr. Finn commented, God often
uses instruments most unfit to do His work. During his seminary days Mr.
Finn was assigned as prefect of St. Marys boarding school or college
in St. Marys, Kansas (which became the fictional St. Maures).
There he learned often the hard wayhow to teach and discipline boys.
One afternoon while supervising a class who were busy writing a composition,
Mr. Finn thought of how they represented to him the typical American Catholic
boy. With nothing else to do, he took up pencil and paper. Why not write
about such boys as are before me? he asked himself. In no time at all
he had dashed off the first chapter of Tom Playfair. When he read it aloud to
the class, they loved it! Of course they wanted more. Francis was finally ordained
to the priesthood around 1891. This was the year that Tom Playfair was published.
Fr. Finns publisher, Benziger Brothers, was to call Tom Playfair the
most successful book for boys and girls ever published in the English language.
Fr. Finn would write 27 books in all, which would be translated into as many
as ten languages, and even into Braille. Fr. Finn spent many years of his priestly
life at St. Xaviers in Cinncinati. There he was well loved, and it is
said that wherever he wentif he took a taxi, ate at a restaurant, attended
a baseball gamepeople would not take his money for their services, but
instead would press money into his hand for his many charities. Children especially
loved him. It is said that at his death in 1928, children by the thousands turned
out to mourn their departed friend. It was Fr. Finns lifelong conviction
that One of the greatest things in the world is to get the right book
into the hands of the right boy or girl. No one can indulge in reading to any
extent without being largely influenced for better or worse. According
to the American Catholic Whos Who, Fr. Finn is universally acknowledged
the foremost Catholic writer of fiction for young people.
Biographical sketch from various sources, including an article in Crusade
magazine which was based on Fr. Finns memoirs as edited and published
by Fr. Daniel A. Lord, S.J., in a book entitled Fr. Finn, S.J.
Taken from Tom
Playfair, or Making a Start by TAN
Books & Publishers, Inc.
Other pages discussing Catholic
doctrine and history:
- Our Lord Jesus Christ
- The Sacred Heart
of Jesus - Learn all about this beautiful devotion to Our Lord.
- The Shroud of Our Lord -
Discusses the convroversy over the Shroud of Turin - is it real or a forgery? Evidence points to its authenticity.
- Infinite Mercy of Jesus - Learn how
the Heart of Jesus has a strong desire to love and pardon sinners who sincerely return to Him.
- The Blessed Virgin Mary
- The Blessed Virgin Mary
- Immaculate, pure, and our most powerful intercessor after Our Lord
- The Holy Slavery
- To Jesus, through Mary -- the same way Jesus came to us (through His Mother)
- Edifying and Beautiful -
Learn about God's Providence in regard to the Blessed Virgin Mary, her graces and merits, the details of her life!
- Our Lady of Fatima - Her predictions and warning for the future.
- Saints who Saw Mary
- Tells the story of 17 great Saints who saw and heard the Blessed Mother, whom they were so devoted to!
- History and Culture
- Wearing Pants Incites Men to Lust
- Learn how women's fashions have corrupted, how evil forces are behind most modern fashions, and much more! Includes practical advice.
- How to Run a Catholic Family
- Discusses how to bring the Catholic Faith into family life! How the family can best celebrate feast days, and make use of good Catholic customs.
- A TRUE History Book -
This premise of this history book: The coming of Jesus Christ was the most important event in history.
- Catholic History Workbook -
Fascinating; hard to put down! It makes more sense of History than secular books which explain things in a disjointed manner.
- Homeschooling Workbook -
With questions for every chapter of Christ in the Americas - multiple choice, fill in the blank, true/false, and more!
- Crisis in the Church
- Read about St. Athanasius - faithful and courageous, known as the "champion of orthodoxy". One of the 33 Doctors of the Church!
- St. Athanasius - The great defender of the Catholic Faith against Arianism
- Crisis in the Church - How the enemies of God plot to overthrow the Church from within.
- Revolution in the Church - How Vatican II and its aftermath caused a crisis in the Catholic Church.
- Freemasonry - Pope Leo XIII unmasks this evil society, and forbids all Catholics to join.
- Combination of ALL Heresies - Pope St. Pius X unmasks the Modernists, giving us their doctrine and methods!
- Vatican II - Impartially discusses what happened at Vatican II -- mostly quotes from the men that were there!
- Fascinating if true - A man's deathbed confession.
- St. Therese, the Little Flower
- St. Therese the Little Flower - Under obedience, she tells the story of her childhood, religious life, etc.
- Mother of St. Therese - Learn about the woman who raised 5 saintly daughters, all of which entered the religious life!
- Father of St. Therese - Learn about the man who let the holy family of Lisieux so well, that his 5 daughters entered a convent!
- From the Sister of St. Therese - In her biography, she writes many things not found in
Story of a Soul.
- Lives of the Saints
- Learned Mystic and Theologian -
St. John of the Cross suffered greatly, even prison, for the Carmelite Reform. Father of the Discalced Carmelites.
- Beautiful story of a young girl -
Anne de Guigne was clever and passionate, yet practiced humility and all the other virtues -- and she died at the age of 10.
- Refuge for Billions of Catholics -
Catholics have always prayed to these saints in their necessities. St. Blaise, St. Christopher, etc. Includes countless novenas!
- St. Anne - Grandmother of Our Lord -
According to Ven. Mary of Agreda, she possessed all the virtues, especially purity. Learn more about her!
- Young Italian Maiden -
Who suffered the Stigmata every Friday, and was pious from her youth. St. Gemma Galgani, called the "Gem of Christ"
- Heroic Chastity -
Read how St. Maria Goretti had to give up her life to preserve her purity! She is called the patroness of youth.
- All Glory to Almighty God -
Well documented cases of the miraculous taken from the lives of the Saints. Fascinating!
- Defeated Persian Sorcerers -
The glorious life of St. Jude Thaddeus, Apostle and cousin of Our Lord, as taken from ancient Catholic traditions.
- Angels and Devils -
Learn all that Scripture and Tradition teaches us about the pure spirits God created. Fascinating and enlightening!
- Life of Mary Magdalen - Learn fascinating details of her life that you didn't know before! From the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich.
- The Angel of the Judgment
- At a critical point in Church history, his preaching and miracles served as a warning of impending chastisement.
- Miracles All His Life -
The miraculous was very common in the life of St Gerard Majella, great saint and Patron of Expectant Mothers.
- Eyewitness to Gospel events -
Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich saw so many biblical events in her visions. Be inspired and edified by her virtuous life!
- United with Jesus Christ -
She suffered for souls and for the Church, and received countless visions all her life. One man wrote down her visions for YOUR sake!
- Never a Moment Wasted
- this zealous missionary and client of Our Lady is a model for all Catholics. Read about his saintly life.
- She saw her Guardian Angel
- this innocent girl tells us the story of her saintly life -- beautiful, inspiring!
- Servants of Satan
Establish Paganism - Astrology, witchcraft, and countless systems of idolatry
set up after the Confusion of Tongues.
- Fervent Catholic Indians - Father De Smet was like an Apostle, suffering greatly to bring the True Religion to the Native American peoples.
- Classic Sermons for Lent - On the Last Things, aimed at moving you to serve God even more
faithfully. By St. Francis de Sales.
- Those Who Met St. Padre
Pio - Stories of conversions, miracles, etc. from those who met this living Crucifix. Recently canonized.
- Beat Up by the Devil
- This great Saint had prophetic visions in the form of dreams, and often physically struggled with the devil.
- Life of St Gertrude
- Our Lord appeared to her many times, and she was much loved by Him because of her purity.
- Jesus Dearly Loved Her
- Because of her love and confidence in him, her heart was His favorite place to dwell, after the Blessed Sacrament.
- The Dolorous Passion - Giving never before seen details of Our Lord's Passion! From
the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich.
- Braving the English
Torture - St. Margaret Clitherow was a wife and mother - and she kept the Faith even to martyrdom!
- Details of The Good Thief - Learn about his life with a gang of brigands, how he helped the
Holy Family, and much more.
- Classic Catholic Sermons - You won't fall asleep here! Sermons by a Doctor of the Church, filled with energy and the spirit of Faith.
- Miracles Taking Place Today - St. Philomena is famous for the number of miracles surrounding her shrine - here are some of them.
- Isabella of Spain - A holy Catholic queen, and a valiant defender of Christ's kingdom.
- St Anthony - the Wonder Worker - His life was filled with proofs that God was with him.
- St Vincent de Paul - famous for his charities, this great Saint was canonized only 77 years after his death!
- The Cure of Ars - Three of him could destroy the devil's kingdom! Read about his physical struggles with Satan.
- St. Rita - Nothing is impossible with God! Her life is an example for us all, especially to mothers.
- Sermons of St. Francis de Sales - Here he speaks all about the kinds of prayer.
Learn what (and what not) to do!
- St. Teresa of Avila - She founded many convents, which were to adhere to the strict observance of the Carmelite Rule.
- St. Elizabeth of Hungary - Known for her generosity to the poor
- Alexandrina - A victim soul who suffered the Passion on Fridays
- The Spiritual Life
- Jesus, Prisoner of Love
- Meditations on the most beautiful doctrine of the Catholic Faith - the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
- Spiritual Exercises
- Written by a great saint, these meditations have converted millions of souls.
- Manual of the Spiritual Life - Your duties as a penitent toward your confessor/spiritual director.
- Lessons from Calvary - 31 meditations on Our Lord's Passion that will help you to easily avoid sin.
- Finding Peace of Heart
- Only by knowing how to follow God's will, can a person be truly happy.
- Strategy for Getting to Heaven - We must learn how the devil works on us, how to avoid his snares, to win the "War for our Souls".
- How to Fight the Deadly Sins - Timeless advice on how to combat each of the Capital sins.
- A Manual for Confession -
How to benefit from the Sacrament of Penance: common pitfalls, scruples, how to make a good exam of conscience, and much more.
- Seven Deadly Sins -
Learn about the different forms of pride, avarice, lust, anger, envy, gluttony and sloth.
- How to Pray Well -
How we should pray to God - with confidence, perseverance, simplicity. Advice from St. Alphonsus Liguori!
- Marriage & Family
- How to Raise Good Catholic Children - With examples from the saints and wise and thoughtful commentary - a must-read for every parent!
- Haunted by Children She Aborted - Testimony from her own mouth: how she had 7 abortions, and how her life changed afterward.
- Catholic Doctrine on Marriage - Common sources of marital strife and how to avoid them, the differences between the sexes, periodic abstinence, and more.
- Your Labor of Love - The author talks about isolation, sufferings, the modern culture, and more.
- Spiritual Growth during Pregnancy - How expecting a child can bring a woman closer to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Includes much practical advice.
- St. Joseph
- St. Joseph - After Our Lady, the holiest mere man who ever lived
- Privileges of St. Joseph - Why St. Joseph receives so much honor in the Church
- Novenas to St. Joseph -
Universal Patron - Pray to St. Joseph for all of your needs - Jesus, now in Heaven, still listens to him as a father!
- The Last Things/Afterlife
- Death, Judgment, Hell, Heaven - The Saints always thought about their last end, and so should we. Brings the reality of eternity before your eyes!
- Life Everlasting - Discusses death, judgment, heaven and hell; also the vices and virtues
- Beyond the Grave -
What we know about Purgatory from sacred history and the lives of the saints.
- Peaceful Rest or Almost Like Hell? - Discusses the two opposing Catholic viewpoints on the subject of Purgatory.
- Purgatory - Learn what the Catholic Church has always taught on this subject.
- What Will Hell be Like? - Discusses the sufferings of Hell in detail.
- Eternity of Hell - Including a story from a soul who was sent there!
- Catholic Doctrine and Dogma
- What is Sanctifying Grace? -
Learn all about the nature of Grace, what it does for us, how to increase it in our souls, and its importance.
- Catholic Dogma of Grace - God's grace vs. man's ability to merit for his actions.
- Sin and Forgiveness - True Catholic doctrine with quotes from Scripture and the Fathers.
- The Intellect of the Angels - What Catholic theology says about the angels.
- Simple Easy-to-Understand Catechism - For Catholics to better learn their faith, or to give to possible converts.
- Sodomy Condemned -
The Catholic Church has always condemned this unnatural vice - see proofs from the Magisterium, Church laws, Scripture, canons, and more!
- The Mass Keeps the World in Existence - and other lofty considerations; helps Catholics
appreciate the real value of the Mass.
- The Catholic Mass - Why it is so priceless; relates actual events which prove it!
- The Catholic Faith - Easy to read and follow, using the most solid Catholic doctrine. Very thorough.
- What Does The Bible Say About Marriage? - Find all Bible quotes about "Anger", for example, gathered into one page.
- Defending the Faith/Apologetics
- The REAL Luther - From the pens of Protestant historians, and Luther's own (foul) mouth -
learn about the real man.
- The Faith of our Fathers - A topic-by-topic explanation of what the Catholic Faith teaches. Great for apologetics!
- The Bible Explained - Why were all those various stories placed in the Bible for us to read? Here is why!
- How Christ Changed Society - Compare the ancient world with the world influenced by Christ.
- Scripture Alone for Salvation? - Even the Bible itself denies this! Read 21 compelling
reasons why Tradition is also necessary.
- The Bible is a Catholic book - Convincing arguments show clearly that criticism of the Catholic Church has no truthful basis! Excellent apologetics based on history.
- Defend Catholic Dogmas - Find rational arguments for what Catholics believe.
- Theory of Evolution
- Evolution Hoax Debunked -
A learned scientist discovers that there is no evidence FOR Evolution, but plenty AGAINST it!
- Proofs against Evolution -
Plenty of evidence against Evolution is out there, but it is often ignored by the media. Fascinating!
- Evolution is a
Fraud - So say countless biologists and scientists! Read more...
- King of Jerusalem
- Balwin IV of Jerusalem leads the Crusaders in this exciting novel.
- Exciting Adventures
- Tom Playfair and his friends at a Jesuit boarding school. Exciting, Catholic, fun!
- More Catholic Adventures
- written by Fr. Finn - Percy Wynn meets Tom Playfair and friends, and enters the boarding school (St. Maure's).
- Perpetual Motion Boy
- The Fr. Finn boarding school universe expands with Claude Lightfoot and other interesting characters.
- That Football Game
- written by Fr. Finn - Which is more important? English class, a math competition, or an upcoming football game?
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