By Tuesday the villagers are mourning Tom and Becky. But by nightfall there is jubilation, because the children are found.
As when Tom, Joe, and Huck returned from Jackson's Island, the adults don't punish the children for having erred, showing that they value community above all.
At the Thatchers' house, Tom tells of their time in the cave, adding self-aggrandizing embellishments. He explains how he finally found a way out when he saw daylight ahead of him through an outlet that led to the Mississippi River, where some men in a skiff found them.
Tom proved himself capable in practical situations, an aspect of his maturity that was previously lacking. His moral journey into manhood is virtually complete. His boasting, while silly, seems endearing rather than a serious flaw.
Becky is bedridden from the excitement. Tom recovers quickly, and wants to visit Huck, who is still sick. The widow Douglas forbids Tom from describing his time in the cave until Huck is stronger. From Huck, Tom learns of the wild night on the widow's property and that the body of the stranger turned up in the river—presumably he drowned while trying to escape.
The death of Injun Joe's companion confirms Joe's status as a complete outsider. Tom and Huck may have sought escape throughout the novel, but they have consistently valued one another's friendship, even as they have grown more independent. True isolation is equated with villainy.
On his way to visit Huck several days later, Tom stops at Becky's, where Judge Thatcher tells him the entrance to the cave has been blocked to prevent more exploring. Tom is aghast and blurts out that Injun Joe is inside the cave.
Injun Joe's death would have been a convenience for Tom, releasing him from the fear of revenge. Yet Tom has come to understand the gravity of death from his time in the cave, and acts to save Injun Joe's life without hesitation.