"So just you march right outdoors and start whitewashin' the fence. It will keep you out of mischief for a while at any' rate." "But, Ma," Sam protested, "this is Saturday." "Now do as I say!" Sam shuffled outside. Slowly he carried the long-handled brush and the whitewash to the sidewalk. There he looked at the board fence, 30 yards long and higher than his head. He dipped his brush and started stroking. The brush got heavier and heavier, and he had painted only half a board when he heard John Robards coming down the street, acting the parts of boat, captain and engine bells of the Big Missouri, drawing nine feet of water. Sam, now painting with zest, paid no attention to the vocal steamboat. He touched up each brushstroke, gazing at his work as if he were an artist. "I'm goin' swimmin'," John said, "but I reckon you can't, 'cause you got work to do, huh?" "You call this work? A boy doesn't get a chance to whitewash a fence every day," replied Sam, gingerly brushing a board with care. John watched for a few moments, then could stand it no longer. ''Here, Sam, let me whitewash a little." Sam explained that he would not dare entrust the job to anyone else. "I'll give you the core of my apple," John pleaded. "I'd like to, John, but . . ." "The whole of it?" Sam turned over the brush, took the apple and sat down in the shade, watching John, happily honored, whitewash furiously. Boy after boy came by that afternoon, all heading for the swimmin' hole. Yet each one stayed to outdo the others in the craft of whitewashing - paying Sam well for the chance. The afternoon was still young when Sam ran out of whitewash. The fence had three coats on it, and Sam had acquired an enormous stock of payments - part of a Jew's harp, a brass doorknob, a dead cat, 12 marbles, the handle of a knife and a kitten with one eye. When he called his mother to inspect the job, she allowed that she had underestimated her boy and, feeling self-reproach for it, gave him a choice apple and sent him off to play.