An old woman is calling out to a boy named Tom, who is not responding and seems to be hidden. She grabs him when he emerges from the closet, where he has been eating jam. Threatened with the switch, Tom acts like there is some danger behind her. When she is distracted, he runs away. Aunt Polly is amused. She always falls for his clever tricks, and he knows he can escape punishment if he makes her laugh. She fears she is failing in her duty to her dead sister’s son by not punishing him, but punishing him hurts her. She decides she’ll punish him by making him work on Saturday.
Tom plays hooky, as his aunt expects him to do. He lets Jim do most of his wood cutting chore but amuses him with the tales of his adventures.
Aunt Polly tries to trick Tom into revealing that he played hooky. She makes him show his shirt collar, which winds up being securely sewn up. Sid points out that the thread is a different color than what Aunt Polly had used. Tom runs out, promising to revenge himself on Sid.
He practices whistling and forgets his troubles. Tom meets another boy who is better dressed than he is. He tells the boy he can beat him up. The other boy doubts it. Tom asks his name, but the boy refuses to tell him. The boy says Tom is good at talking but not at doing. He thinks Tom is afraid, but Tom denies it. They shove against each other but are equally matched. They threaten to get their big brothers (which neither of them have) to beat up the other one. Tom draws a line and dares the boy to cross it. The boy does. He sneers at Tom for not fulfilling his vow to fight him. Eventually the boys do start fighting. The other boy angrily yields and vows to get Tom the next time. The boy throws a stone at Tom, and Tom chases him all the way home. His vigil of the house is ended when the boy’s mother chases him away.
When he climbs through the window when he gets home, he gets caught by his aunt Polly, who vows to make him work Saturday.