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5

WHEN SHE WAS getting in the car she bumped her head hard against its top. “Damnation! Why don’t they make these things high enough to get into?” She rubbed her forehead until her eyes focused.

“Okay, honey?”

“Yeah. I’m all right.”

Henry shut the door softly, went around, and got in beside her. “Too much city living,” he said. “You’re never in a car up there, are you?”

“No. How long before they’ll cut ’em down to one foot high? We’ll be riding prone next year.”

“Shot out of a cannon,” said Henry. “Shot from Maycomb to Mobile in three minutes.”

“I’d be content with an old square Buick. Remember them? You sat at least five feet off the ground.”

Henry said, “Remember when Jem fell out of the car?”

She laughed. “That was my hold over him for weeks-anybody who couldn’t get to Barker’s Eddy without falling out of the car was a big wet hen.”

In the dim past, Atticus had owned an old canvas-top touring car, and once when he was taking Jem, Henry, and Jean Louise swimming, the car rolled over a particularly bad hump in the road and deposited Jem without. Atticus drove serenely on until they reached Barker’s Eddy, because Jean Louise had no intention of advising her father that Jem was no longer present, and she prevented Henry from doing so by catching his finger and bending it back. When they arrived at the creek bank, Atticus turned around with a hearty “Everybody out!” and the smile froze on his face: “Where’s Jem?” Jean Louise said he ought to be coming along any minute now. When Jem appeared puffing, sweaty, and filthy from his enforced sprint, he ran straight past them and dived into the creek with his clothes on. Seconds later a murderous face appeared from beneath the surface, saying, “Come on in here, Scout! I dare you, Hank!” They took his dare, and once Jean Louise thought Jem would choke the life out of her, but he let her go eventually: Atticus was there.

“They’ve put a planing mill on the eddy,” said Henry. “Can’t swim in it now.”

Henry drove up to the E-Lite Eat Shop and honked the horn. “Give us two set-ups please, Bill,” he said to the youth who appeared at his summons.

In Maycomb, one drank or did not drink. When one drank, one went behind the garage, turned up a pint, and drank it down; when one did not drink, one asked for set-ups at the E-Lite Eat Shop under cover of darkness: a man having a couple of drinks before or after dinner in his home or with his neighbor was unheard of. That was Social Drinking. Those who Drank Socially were not quite out of the top drawer, and because no one in Maycomb considered himself out of any drawer but the top, there was no Social Drinking.

“Make mine light, honey,” she said. “Just color the water.”

“Haven’t you learned to hold it yet?” Henry said. He reached under the seat and came up with a brown bottle of Seagram’s Seven.

“Not the hard kind,” she said.

Henry colored the water in her paper cup. He poured himself a man-sized drink, stirred it with his finger, and bottle between his knees, he replaced its cap. He shoved it under the seat and started the car.

“We’re off,” he said.

The car tires hummed on the asphalt and made her sleepy. The one thing she liked most about Henry Clinton was that he let her be silent when she wanted to be. She did not have to entertain him.

Henry never attempted to pester her when she was thus. His attitude was Asquithian, and he knew she appreciated him for his patience. She did not know he was learning that virtue from her father. “Relax, son,” Atticus had told him in one of his rare comments on her. “Don’t push her. Let her go at her own speed. Push her and every mule in the county’d be easier to live with.”

Henry Clinton’s class in Law School at the University was composed of bright, humorless young veterans. The competition was terrific, but Henry was accustomed to hard work. Although he was able to keep up and manage very well, he learned little of practical value. Atticus Finch was right when he said the only good the University did Henry was let him make friends with Alabama’s future politicians, demagogues, and statesmen. One began to get an inkling of what law was about only when the time came to practice it. Alabama and common law pleading, for instance, was a subject so ethereal in nature that Henry passed it only by memorizing the book. The bitter little man who taught the course was the lone professor in the school who had guts enough to try to teach it, and even he evinced the rigidity of imperfect understanding. “Mr. Clinton,” he had said, when Henry ventured to inquire about a particularly ambiguous examination, “you may write until doomsday for all I care, but if your answers do not coincide with my answers they are wrong. Wrong, sir.” No wonder Atticus confounded Henry in the early days of their association by saying, “Pleading’s little more than putting on paper what you want to say.” Patiently and unobtrusively Atticus had taught him everything Henry knew about his craft, but Henry sometimes wondered if he would be as old as Atticus before he reduced law to his possession. Tom, Tom, the chimney sweep’s son. Was that the old bailment case? No, the first of the treasure trove cases: possession holds good against all comers except the true owner. The boy found a brooch. He looked down at Jean Louise. She was dozing.

He was her true owner, that was clear to him. From the time she threw rocks at him; when she almost blew her head off playing with gunpowder; when she would spring upon him from behind, catch him in a hard half nelson, and make him say Calf Rope; when she was ill and delirious one summer yelling for him and Jem and Dill-Henry wondered where Dill was. Jean Louise would know, she kept in touch.

“Honey, where’s Dill?”

Jean Louise opened her eyes. “Italy, last time I heard.”

She stirred. Charles Baker Harris. Dill, the friend of her heart. She yawned and watched the front of the car consume the white line in the highway. “Where are we?”

“Ten more miles to go yet.”

She said, “You can feel the river already.”

“You must be half alligator,” said Henry. “I can’t.”

“Is Two-Toed Tom still around?”

Two-Toed Tom lived wherever there was a river. He was a genius: he made tunnels beneath Maycomb and ate people’s chickens at night; he was once tracked from Demopolis to Tensas. He was as old as Maycomb County.

“We might see him tonight.”

“What made you think of Dill?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Just thought of him.”

“You never liked him, did you?”

Henry smiled. “I was jealous of him. He had you and Jem to himself all summer long, while I had to go home the day school was out. There was nobody at home to fool around with.”

She was silent. Time stopped, shifted, and went lazily in reverse. Somehow, then, it was always summer. Hank was down at his mother’s and unavailable, and Jem had to make do with his younger sister for company. The days were long, Jem was eleven, and the pattern was set:

They were on the sleeping porch, the coolest part of the house. They slept there every night from the beginning of May to the end of September. Jem, who had been lying on his cot reading since daybreak, thrust a football magazine in her face, pointed to a picture, and said, “Who’s this, Scout?”

“Johnny Mack Brown. Let’s play a story.”

Jem rattled the page at her. “Who’s this then?”

“You,” she said.

“Okay. Call Dill.”

It was unnecessary to call Dill. The cabbages trembled in Miss Rachel’s garden, the back fence groaned, and Dill was with them. Dill was a curiosity because he was from Meridian, Mississippi, and was wise in the ways of the world. He spent every summer in Maycomb with his great-aunt, who lived next door to the Finches. He was a short, square-built, cotton-headed individual with the face of an angel and the cunning of a stoat. He was a year older than she, but she was a head taller.

“Hey,” said Dill. “Let’s play Tarzan today. I’m gonna be Tarzan.”

“You can’t be Tarzan,” said Jem.

“I’m Jane,” she said.

“Well, I’m not going to be the ape again,” said Dill. “I always have to be the ape.”

“You want to be Jane, then?” asked Jem. He stretched, pulled on his pants, and said, “We’ll play Tom Swift. I’m Tom.”

“I’m Ned,” said Dill and she together. “No you’re not,” she said to Dill.

Dill’s face reddened. “Scout, you always have to be second-best. I never am the second-best.”

“You want to do something about it?” she asked politely, clenching her fists.

Jem said, “You can be Mr. Damon, Dill. He’s always funny and he saves everybody in the end. You know, he always blesses everything.”

“Bless my insurance policy,” said Dill, hooking his thumbs through invisible suspenders. “Oh all right.”

“What’s it gonna be,” said Jem, “His Ocean Airport or His Flying Machine?”

“I’m tired of those,” she said. “Make us up one.”

“Okay. Scout, you’re Ned Newton. Dill, you’re Mr. Damon. Now, one day Tom’s in his laboratory working on a machine that can see through a brick wall when this man comes in and says, ‘Mr. Swift?’ I’m Tom, so I say, ‘Yessir?’—”

“Can’t anything see through a brick wall,” said Dill.

“This thing could. Anyway, this man comes in and says, ‘Mr. Swift?’”

“Jem,” she said, “if there’s gonna be this man we’ll need somebody else. Want me to run get Bennett?”

“No, this man doesn’t last long, so I’ll just tell his part. You’ve got to begin a story, Scout—”

This man’s part consisted of advising the young inventor that a valuable professor had been lost in the Belgian Congo for thirty years and it was high time somebody tried to get him out. Naturally he had come to seek the services of Tom Swift and his friends, and Tom leaped at the prospect of adventure.

The three climbed into His Flying Machine, which was composed of wide boards they had long ago nailed across the chinaberry tree’s heaviest branches.

“It’s awful hot up here,” said Dill. “Huh-huh-huh.”

“What?” said Jem.

“I say it’s awful hot up here so close to the sun. Bless my long underwear.”

“You can’t say that, Dill. The higher you go the colder it gets.”

“I reckon it gets hotter.”

“Well, it doesn’t. The higher it is the colder it is because the air gets thinner. Now Scout, you say, ‘Tom, where are we going?’”

“I thought we were going to Belgium,” said Dill.

“You’ve got to say where are we going because the man told me, he didn’t tell you, and I haven’t told you yet, see?”

They saw.

When Jem explained their mission, Dill said, “If he’s been lost for that long, how do they know he’s alive?”

Jem said, “This man said he’d got a signal from the Gold Coast that Professor Wiggins was—”

“If he’d just heard from him, how come he’s lost?” she said.

“—was among a lost tribe of headhunters,” continued Jem, ignoring her. “Ned, do you have the rifle with the X-ray Sight? Now you say yes.”

She said, “Yes, Tom.”

“Mr. Damon, have you stocked the Flying Machine with enough provisions? Mister Damon!

Dill jerked to attention. “Bless my rolling pin, Tom. Yes-siree! Huh-huh-huh!”

They made a three-point landing on the outskirts of Capetown, and she told Jem he hadn’t given her anything to say for ten minutes and she wasn’t going to play any more if he didn’t.

“Okay. Scout, you say, ‘Tom, there’s no time to lose. Let’s head for the jungle.’”

She said it.

They marched around the back yard, slashing at foliage, occasionally pausing to pick off a stray elephant or fight a tribe of cannibals. Jem led the way. Sometimes he shouted, “Get back!” and they fell flat on their bellies in the warm sand. Once he rescued Mr. Damon from Victoria Falls while she stood around and sulked because all she had to do was hold the rope that held Jem.

Presently Jem cried, “We’re almost there, so come on!”

They rushed forward to the carhouse, a village of headhunters. Jem dropped to his knees and began behaving like a snake healer.

“What are you doing?” she said.

“Shh! Making a sacrifice.”

“You look afflicted,” said Dill. “What’s a sacrifice?”

“You make it to keep the headhunters off you. Look, there they are!” Jem made a low humming noise, said something like “buja-buja-buja,” and the carhouse came alive with savages.

Dill rolled his eyes up in their sockets in a nauseating way, stiffened, and fell to the ground.

“They’ve got Mr. Damon!” cried Jem.

They carried Dill, stiff as a light-pole, out into the sun. They gathered fig leaves and placed them in a row down Dill from his head to his feet.

“Think it’ll work, Tom?” she said.

“Might. Can’t tell yet. Mr. Damon? Mr. Damon, wake up!” Jem hit him on the head.

Dill rose up scattering fig leaves. “Now stop it, Jem Finch,” he said, and resumed his spread-eagle position. “I’m not gonna stay here much longer. It’s getting hot.”

Jem made mysterious papal passes over Dill’s head and said, “Look, Ned. He’s coming to.”

Dill’s eyelids fluttered and opened. He got up and reeled around the yard muttering, “Where am I?”

“Right here, Dill,” she said, in some alarm.

Jem scowled. “You know that’s not right. You say, ‘Mr. Damon, you’re lost in the Belgian Congo where you have been put under a spell. I am Ned and this is Tom.’”

“Are we lost, too?” said Dill.

“We were all the time you were hexed but we’re not any more,” said Jem. “Professor Wiggins is staked out in a hut over yonder and we’ve got to get him—”

For all she knew, Professor Wiggins was still staked out. Calpurnia broke everybody’s spell by sticking her head out the back door and screaming, “Yawl want any lemonade? It’s ten-thirty. You all better come get some or you’ll be boiled alive in that sun!”

Calpurnia had placed three tumblers and a big pitcher full of lemonade inside the door on the back porch, an arrangement to ensure their staying in the shade for at least five minutes. Lemonade in the middle of the morning was a daily occurrence in the summertime. They downed three glasses apiece and found the remainder of the morning lying emptily before them.

“Want to go out in Dobbs Pasture?” asked Dill.

No.

“How about let’s make a kite?” she said. “We can get some flour from Calpurnia…”

“Can’t fly a kite in the summertime,” said Jem. “There’s not a breath of air blowing.”

The thermometer on the back porch stood at ninety-two, the carhouse shimmered faintly in the distance, and the giant twin chinaberry trees were deadly still.

I know what,” said Dill. “Let’s have a revival.”

The three looked at one another. There was merit in this.

Dog days in Maycomb meant at least one revival, and one was in progress that week. It was customary for the town’s three churches-Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian-to unite and listen to one visiting minister, but occasionally when the churches could not agree on a preacher or his salary, each congregation held its own revival with an open invitation to all; sometimes, therefore, the populace was assured of three weeks’ spiritual reawakening. Revival time was a time of war: war on sin, Coca-Cola, picture shows, hunting on Sunday; war on the increasing tendency of young women to paint themselves and smoke in public; war on drinking whiskey-in this connection at least fifty children per summer went to the altar and swore they would not drink, smoke, or curse until they were twenty-one; war on something so nebulous Jean Louise never could figure out what it was, except there was nothing to swear concerning it; and war among the town’s ladies over who could set the best table for the evangelist. Maycomb’s regular pastors ate free for a week also, and it was hinted in disrespectful quarters that the local clergy deliberately led their churches into holding separate services, thereby gaining two more weeks’ honoraria. This, however, was a lie.

That week, for three nights, Jem, Dill, and she had sat in the children’s section of the Baptist Church (the Baptists were hosts this time) and listened to the messages of the Reverend James Edward Moorehead, a renowned speaker from north Georgia. At least that is what they were told; they understood little of what he said except his observations on hell. Hell was and would always be as far as she was concerned, a lake of fire exactly the size of Maycomb, Alabama, surrounded by a brick wall two hundred feet high. Sinners were pitchforked over this wall by Satan, and they simmered throughout eternity in a sort of broth of liquid sulfur.

Reverend Moorehead was a tall sad man with a stoop and a tendency to give his sermons startling titles. (Would You Speak to Jesus If You Met Him on the Street? Reverend Moorehead doubted that you could even if you wanted to, because Jesus probably spoke Aramaic.) The second night he preached, his topic was The Wages of Sin. At that time the local movie house was featuring a film of the same title (persons under sixteen not admitted): Maycomb thought Reverend Moorehead was going to preach on the movie, and the whole town turned out to hear him. Reverend Moorehead did nothing of the kind. He split hairs for three-quarters of an hour on the grammatical accuracy of his text. (Which was correct-the wages of sin is death or the wages of sin are death? It made a difference, and Reverend Moorehead drew distinctions of such profundity that not even Atticus Finch could tell what he was driving at.)

Jem, Dill, and she would have been bored stiff had not Reverend Moorehead possessed a singular talent for fascinating children. He was a whistler. There was a gap between his two front teeth (Dill swore they were false, they were just made that way to look natural) which produced a disastrously satisfying sound when he said a word containing one s or more. Sin, Jesus, Christ, sorrow, salvation, success, were key words they listened for each night, and their attention was rewarded in two ways: in those days no minister could get through a sermon without using them all, and they were assured of muffled paroxysms of muffled delight at least seven times an evening; secondly, because they paid such strict attention to Reverend Moorehead, Jem, Dill, and she were thought to be the best-behaved children in the congregation.

The third night of the revival when the three went forward with several other children and accepted Christ as their personal Savior, they looked hard at the floor during the ceremony because Reverend Moorehead folded his hands over their heads and said among other things, “Blessed is he who sitteth not in the seat of the scornful.” Dill was seized with a bad whooping spell, and Reverend Moorehead whispered to Jem, “Take the child out into the air. He is overcome.”

Jem said, “I tell you what, we can have it over in your yard by the fishpool.”

Dill said that would be fine. “Yeah, Jem. We can get some boxes for a pulpit.”

A gravel driveway divided the Finch yard from Miss Rachel’s. The fishpool was in Miss Rachel’s side yard, and it was surrounded by azalea bushes, rose bushes, camellia bushes, and cape jessamine bushes. Some old fat goldfish lived in the pool with several frogs and water lizards, shaded by wide lily pads and ivy. A great fig tree spread its poisonous leaves over the surrounding area, making it the coolest in the neighborhood. Miss Rachel had put some yard furniture around the pool, and there was a sawbuck table under the fig tree.

They found two empty crates in Miss Rachel’s smokehouse and set up an altar in front of the pool. Dill stationed himself behind it.

“I’m Mr. Moorehead,” he said.

“I’m Mr. Moorehead,” said Jem. “I’m the oldest.”

“Oh all right,” said Dill.

“You and Scout can be the congregation.”

“We won’t have anything to do,” she said, “and I swannee if I’ll sit here for an hour and listen to you, Jem Finch.”

“You and Dill can take up collection,” said Jem. “You can be the choir, too.”

The congregation drew up two yard chairs and sat facing the altar.

Jem said, “Now you all sing something.”

She and Dill sang:

“Amazing grace how sweet thuh sound

That saved a wretch like me;

I once was lost but now I’m found,

Was blind, but now I see. A-men.”

Jem wrapped his arms around the pulpit, leaned over, and said in confidential tones, “My, it looks good to see you all this morning. This is a beautiful morning.”

Dill said, “A-men.”

“Does anybody this morning feel like opening up wide and singin’ his heart out?” asked Jem.

“Yes-s sir,” said Dill. Dill, whose square construction and lack of height doomed him forever to play the character man, rose, and before their eyes became a one-man choir:

“When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,

And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;

When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,

And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”

The minister and the congregation joined in the chorus. While they were singing, she heard Calpurnia calling in the dim distance. She batted the gnatlike sound away from her ear.

Dill, red in the face from his exertions, sat down and filled the Amen Corner.

Jem clipped invisible pince-nez to his nose, cleared his throat, and said, “The text for the day, my brethren, is from the Psalms: ‘Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, O ye gates.’”

Jem detached his pince-nez, and while wiping them repeated in a deep voice, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”

Dill said, “It’s time to take up collection,” and hit her for the two nickels she had in her pocket.

“You give ’em back after church, Dill,” she said.

“You all hush,” said Jem. “It’s time for the sermon.”

Jem preached the longest, most tedious sermon she ever heard in her life. He said that sin was about the most sinful thing he could think of, and no one who sinned could be a success, and blessed was he who sat in the seat of the scornful; in short, he repeated his own version of everything they had heard for the past three nights. His voice sank to its lowest register; it would rise to a squeak and he would clutch at the air as though the ground were opening beneath his feet. He once asked, “Where is the Devil?” and pointed straight at the congregation. “Right here in Maycomb, Alabama.”

He started on hell, but she said, “Now cut it out, Jem.” Reverend Moorehead’s description of it was enough to last her a lifetime. Jem reversed his field and tackled heaven: heaven was full of bananas (Dill’s love) and scalloped potatoes (her favorite), and when they died they would go there and eat good things until Judgement Day, but on Judgement Day, God, having written down everything they did in a book from the day they were born, would cast them into hell.

Jem drew the service to a close by asking all who wished to be united with Christ to step forward. She went.

Jem put his hand on her head and said, “Young lady, do you repent?”

“Yes sir,” she said.

“Have you been baptized?”

“No sir,” she said.

“Well—” Jem dipped his hand into the black water of the fishpool and laid it on her head. “I baptize you—”

“Hey, wait a minute!” shouted Dill. “That’s not right!”

“I reckon it is,” said Jem. “Scout and me are Methodists.”

“Yeah, but we’re having a Baptist revival. You’ve got to duck her. I think I’ll be baptized, too.” The ramifications of the ceremony were dawning on Dill, and he fought hard for the role. “I’m the one,” he insisted. “I’m the Baptist so I reckon I’m the one to be baptized.”

“Now listen here, Dill Pickle Harris,” she said menacingly. “I haven’t done a blessed thing this whole morning. You’ve been the Amen Corner, you sang a solo, and you took up collection. It’s my time, now.”

Her fists were clenched, her left arm cocked, and her toes gripped the ground.

Dill backed away. “Now cut it out, Scout.”

“She’s right, Dill,” Jem said. “You can be my assistant.”

Jem looked at her. “Scout, you better take your clothes off. They’ll get wet.”

She divested herself of her overalls, her only garment. “Don’t you hold me under,” she said, “and don’t forget to hold my nose.”

She stood on the cement edge of the pool. An ancient goldfish surfaced and looked balefully at her, then disappeared beneath the dark water.

“How deep’s this thing?” she asked.

“Only about two feet,” said Jem, and turned to Dill for confirmation. But Dill had left them. They saw him going like a streak toward Miss Rachel’s house.

“Reckon he’s mad?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Let’s wait and see if he comes back.”

Jem said they had better shoo the fish down to one side of the pool lest they hurt one, and they were leaning over the side rustling the water when an ominous voice behind them said, “Whoo—”

“Whoo—” said Dill from beneath a double-bed sheet, in which he had cut eyeholes. He raised his arms above his head and lunged at her. “Are you ready?” he said. “Hurry up, Jem. I’m getting hot.”

“For crying out loud,” said Jem. “What are you up to?”

“I’m the Holy Ghost,” said Dill modestly.

Jem took her by the hand and guided her into the pool. The water was warm and slimy, and the bottom was slippery. “Don’t you duck me but once,” she said.

Jem stood on the edge of the pool. The figure beneath the sheet joined him and flapped its arms wildly. Jem held her back and pushed her under. As her head went beneath the surface she heard Jem intoning, “Jean Louise Finch, I baptize you in the name of—”

Whap!

Miss Rachel’s switch made perfect contact with the sacred apparition’s behind. Since he would not go backward into the hail of blows Dill stepped forward at a brisk pace and joined her in the pool. Miss Rachel flailed relentlessly at a heaving tangle of lily pads, bed sheet, legs and arms, and twining ivy.

“Get out of there!” Miss Rachel screamed. “I’ll Holy Ghost you, Charles Baker Harris! Rip the sheets off my best bed, will you? Cut holes in ’em, will you? Take the Lord’s name in vain, will you? Come on, get out of there!”

“Cut it out, Aunt Rachel!” burbled Dill, his head half under water. “Gimme a chance!”

Dill’s efforts to disentangle himself with dignity were only moderately successful: he rose from the pool like a small fantastical water monster, covered with green slime and dripping sheet. A tendril of ivy curled around his head and neck. He shook his head violently to free himself, and Miss Rachel stepped back to avoid the spray of water.

Jean Louise followed him out. Her nose tingled horribly from the water in it, and when she sniffed it hurt.

Miss Rachel would not touch Dill, but waved him on with her switch, saying, “March!”

She and Jem watched the two until they disappeared inside Miss Rachel’s house. She could not help feeling sorry for Dill.

“Let’s go home,” Jem said. “It must be dinnertime.”

They turned in the direction of their house and looked straight into the eyes of their father. He was standing in the driveway.

Beside him stood a lady they did not know and Reverend James Edward Moorehead. They looked like they had been standing there for some time.

Atticus came toward them, taking his coat off. Her throat closed tight and her knees shook. When he dropped his coat over her shoulders she realized she was standing stark naked in the presence of a preacher. She tried to run, but Atticus caught her by the scruff of the neck and said, “Go to Calpurnia. Go in the back door.”

Calpurnia scrubbed her viciously in the bathtub, muttering, “Mr. Finch called this morning and said he was bringing the preacher and his wife home for dinner. I yelled till I was blue in the face for you all. Why’nt you answer me?”

“Didn’t hear you,” she lied.

“Well, it was either get that cake in the oven or round you up. I couldn’t do both. Ought to be ashamed of yourselves, mortifyin’ your daddy like that!”

She thought Calpurnia’s bony finger would go through her ear. “Stop it,” she said.

“If he dudn’t whale the tar out of both of you, I will,” Calpurnia promised. “Now get out of that tub.”

Calpurnia nearly took the skin off her with the rough towel, and commanded her to raise her hands above her head. Calpurnia thrust her into a stiffly starched pink dress, held her chin firmly between thumb and forefinger, and raked her hair with a sharp-toothed comb. Calpurnia threw down a pair of patent leather shoes at her feet.

“Put ’em on.”

“I can’t button ’em,” she said. Calpurnia banged down the toilet seat and sat her on it. She watched big scarecrow fingers perform the intricate business of pushing pearl buttons through holes too small for them, and she marveled at the power in Calpurnia’s hands.

“Now go to your daddy.”

“Where’s Jem?” she said.

“He’s cleaning up in Mr. Finch’s bathroom. I can trust him.”

In the livingroom, she and Jem sat quietly on the sofa. Atticus and Reverend Moorehead made uninteresting conversation, and Mrs. Moorehead frankly stared at the children. Jem looked at Mrs. Moorehead and smiled. His smile was not returned, so he gave up.

To the relief of everyone, Calpurnia rang the dinnerbell. At the table, they sat for a moment in uneasy silence, and Atticus asked Reverend Moorehead to return thanks. Reverend Moorehead, instead of asking an impersonal blessing, seized the opportunity to advise the Lord of Jem’s and her misdeeds. By the time Reverend Moorehead got around to explaining that these were motherless children she felt one inch high. She peeked at Jem: his nose was almost in his plate and his ears were red. She doubted if Atticus would ever be able to raise his head again, and her suspicion was confirmed when Reverend Moorehead finally said Amen and Atticus looked up. Two big tears had run from beneath his glasses down the sides of his cheeks. They had hurt him badly this time. Suddenly he said, “Excuse me,” rose abruptly, and disappeared into the kitchen.

Calpurnia came in carefully, bearing a heavily laden tray. With company came Calpurnia’s company manners: although she could speak Jeff Davis’s English as well as anybody, she dropped her verbs in the presence of guests; she haughtily passed dishes of vegetables; she seemed to inhale steadily. When Calpurnia was at her side Jean Louise said, “Excuse me, please,” reached up, and brought Calpurnia’s head to the level of her own. “Cal,” she whispered, “is Atticus real upset?”

Calpurnia straightened up, looked down at her, and said to the table at large, “Mr. Finch? Nawm, Miss Scout. He on the back porch laughin’!”

‘MR. FINCH? HE laughin’. Car wheels running from pavement to dirt roused her. She ran her fingers through her hair. She opened the glove compartment, found a package of cigarettes, took one out of the pack, and lighted it.

“We’re almost there,” said Henry. “Where were you? Back in New York with your boyfriend?”

“Just woolgathering,” she said. “I was thinking about the time we held a revival. You missed that one.”

“Thank goodness. That’s one of Dr. Finch’s favorites.”

She laughed. “Uncle Jack’s told me that one for nearly twenty years, and it still embarrasses me. You know, Dill was the one person we forgot to tell when Jem died. Somebody sent him a newspaper clipping. He found out like that.”

Henry said, “Always happens that way. You forget the oldest ones. Think he’ll ever come back?”

Jean Louise shook her head. When the Army sent Dill to Europe, Dill stayed. He was born a wanderer. He was like a small panther when confined with the same people and surroundings for any length of time. She wondered where he would be when his life ended. Not on the sidewalk in Maycomb, that was for sure.

Cool river air cut through the hot night.

“Finch’s Landing, madam,” said Henry.

Finch’s Landing consisted of three hundred and sixty-six steps going down a high bluff and ending in a wide jetty jutting out into the river. One approached it by way of a great clearing some three hundred yards wide extending from the bluff’s edge back into the woods. A two-rut road ran from the far end of the clearing and vanished among dark trees. At the end of the road was a two-storied white house with porches extending around its four sides, upstairs and downstairs.

Far from being in an advanced stage of decay, the Old Finch House was in an excellent state of repair: it was a hunting club. Some businessmen from Mobile had leased the land around it, bought the house, and established what Maycomb thought was a private gambling hell. It was not: the rooms of the old house rang on winter nights with male cheer, and occasionally a shotgun would be let off, not in anger but in excessive high spirits. Let them play poker and carouse all they wanted, all Jean Louise wanted was for the old house to be taken care of.

The house had a routine history for the South: it was bought by Atticus Finch’s grandfather from the uncle of a renowned lady poisoner who operated on both sides of the Atlantic but who came from a fine old Alabama family. Atticus’s father was born in the house, and so were Atticus, Alexandra, Caroline (who married a Mobile man), and John Hale Finch. The clearing was used for family reunions until they went out of style, which was well within Jean Louise’s recollection.

Atticus Finch’s great-great-grandfather, an English Methodist, settled by the river near Claiborne and produced seven daughters and one son. They married the children of Colonel Maycomb’s troops, were fruitful, and established what the county called the Eight Families. Through the years, when the descendants gathered annually, it would become necessary for the Finch in residence at the Landing to hack away more of the woods for picnic grounds, thus accounting for the clearing’s present size. It was used for more things than family reunions, however: Negroes played basketball there, the Klan met there in its halcyon days, and a great tournament was held in Atticus’s time in which the gentlemen of the county jousted for the honor of carrying their ladies into Maycomb for a great banquet. (Alexandra said watching Uncle Jimmy drive a pole through a ring at full gallop was what made her marry him.)

Atticus’s time also was when the Finches moved to town: Atticus read law in Montgomery and returned to practice in Maycomb; Alexandra, overcome by Uncle Jimmy’s dexterity, went with him to Maycomb; John Hale Finch went to Mobile to study medicine; and Caroline eloped at seventeen. When their father died they rented out the land, but their mother would not budge from the old place. She stayed on, watching the land rented and sold piece by piece from around her. When she died, all that was left was the house, the clearing, and the landing. The house stayed empty until the gentlemen from Mobile bought it.

Jean Louise thought she remembered her grandmother, but was not sure. When she saw her first Rembrandt, a woman in a cap and ruff, she said, “There’s Grandma.” Atticus said no, it didn’t even look like her. But Jean Louise had an impression that somewhere in the old house she had been taken into a faintly lighted room, and in the middle of the room sat an old, old, lady dressed in black, wearing a white lace collar.

The steps to the Landing were called, of course, the Leap-Year Steps, and when Jean Louise was a child and attended the annual reunions, she and multitudes of cousins would drive their parents to the brink of the bluff worrying about them playing on the steps until the children were caught and divided into two categories, swimmers and nonswimmers. Those who could not swim were relegated to the forest side of the clearing and made to play innocuous games; swimmers had the run of the steps, supervised casually by two Negro youths.

The hunting club had kept the steps in decent repair, and used the jetty as a dock for their boats. They were lazy men; it was easier to drift downstream and row over to Winston Swamp than to thrash through underbrush and pine slashes. Farther downstream, beyond the bluff, were traces of the old cotton landing where Finch Negroes loaded bales and produce, and unloaded blocks of ice, flour and sugar, farm equipment, and ladies’ things. Finch’s Landing was used only by travelers: the steps gave the ladies an excellent excuse to swoon; their luggage was left at the cotton landing-to debark there in front of the Negroes was unthinkable.

“Think they’re safe?”

Henry said, “Sure. The club keeps ’em up. We’re trespassing, you know.”

“Trespassing, hell. I’d like to see the day when a Finch can’t walk over his own land.” She paused. “What do you mean?”

“They sold the last of it five months ago.”

Jean Louise said, “They didn’t say word one to me about it.”

The tone of her voice made Henry stop. “You don’t care, do you?”

“No, not really. I just wish they’d told me.”

Henry was not convinced. “For heaven’s sake, Jean Louise, what good was it to Mr. Finch and them?”

“None whatever, with taxes and things. I just wish they’d told me. I don’t like surprises.”

Henry laughed. He stooped down and brought up a handful of gray sand. “Going Southern on us? Want me to do a Gerald O’Hara?”

“Quit it, Hank.” Her voice was pleasant.

Henry said, “I believe you are the worst of the lot. Mr. Finch is seventy-two years young and you’re a hundred years old when it comes to something like this.”

“I just don’t like my world disturbed without some warning. Let’s go down to the landing.”

“You up to it?”

“I can beat you down any day.”

They raced to the steps. When Jean Louise started the swift descent her fingers brushed cold metal. She stopped. They had put an iron-pipe railing on the steps since last year. Hank was too far ahead to catch, but she tried.

When she reached the landing, out of breath, Henry was already sprawled out on the boards. “Careful of the tar, hon,” he said.

“I’m getting old,” she said.

They smoked in silence. Henry put his arm under her neck and occasionally turned and kissed her. She looked at the sky. “You can almost reach up and touch it, it’s so low.”

Henry said, “Were you serious a minute ago when you said you didn’t like your world disturbed?”

“Hm?” She did not know. She supposed she was. She tried to explain: “It’s just that every time I’ve come home for the past five years-before that, even. From college-something’s changed a little more…”

“—and you’re not sure you like it, eh?” Henry was grinning in the moonlight and she could see him.

She sat up. “I don’t know if I can tell you, honey. When you live in New York, you often have the feeling that New York’s not the world. I mean this: every time I come home, I feel like I’m coming back to the world, and when I leave Maycomb it’s like leaving the world. It’s silly. I can’t explain it, and what makes it sillier is that I’d go stark raving living in Maycomb.”

Henry said, “You wouldn’t, you know. I don’t mean to press you for an answer-don’t move-but you’ve got to make up your mind to one thing, Jean Louise. You’re gonna see change, you’re gonna see Maycomb change its face completely in our lifetime. Your trouble, now, you want to have your cake and eat it: you want to stop the clock, but you can’t. Sooner or later you’ll have to decide whether it’s Maycomb or New York.”

He so nearly understood. I’ll marry you, Hank, if you bring me to live here at the Landing. I’ll swap New York for this place but not for Maycomb.

She looked out at the river. The Maycomb County side was high bluffs; Abbott County was flat. When it rained the river overflowed and one could row a boat over cotton fields. She looked upstream. The Canoe Fight was up there, she thought. Sam Dale fit the Indians and Red Eagle jumped off the bluff.

And then he thinks he knows

The hills where his life rose,

And the Sea where it goes.

“Did you say something?” said Henry.

“Nothing. Just being romantic,” she said. “By the way, Aunty doesn’t approve of you.”

“I’ve known that all my life. Do you?”

“Yep.”

“Then marry me.”

“Make me an offer.”

Henry got up and sat beside her. They dangled their feet over the edge of the landing. “Where are my shoes?” she said suddenly.

“Back by the car where you kicked ’em off. Jean Louise, I can support us both now. I can keep us well in a few years if things keep on booming. The South’s the land of opportunity now. There’s enough money right here in Maycomb County to sink a-how would you like to have a husband in the legislature?”

Jean Louise was surprised. “You running?”

“I’m thinking about it.”

“Against the machine?”

“Yep. It’s about ready to fall of its own weight, and if I get in on the ground floor…”

“Decent government in Maycomb County’d be such a shock I don’t think the citizens could stand it,” she said. “What does Atticus think?”

“He thinks the time is ripe.”

“You won’t have it as easy as he did.” Her father, after making his initial campaign, served in the state legislature for as long as he wished, without opposition. He was unique in the history of the county: no machines opposed Atticus Finch, no machines supported him, and no one ran against him. After he retired, the machine gobbled up the one independent office left.

“No, but I can give ’em a run for their money. The Courthouse Crowd are pretty well asleep at the switch now, and a hard campaign might just beat ’em.”

“Baby, you won’t have a helpmate,” she said. “Politics bores me to distraction.”

“Anyway, you won’t campaign against me. That’s a relief in itself.”

“A rising young man, aren’t you? Why didn’t you tell me you were Man of the Year?”

“I was afraid you’d laugh,” Henry said.

“Laugh at you, Hank?”

“Yeah. You seem to be half laughing at me all the time.”

What could she say? How many times had she hurt his feelings? She said, “You know I’ve never been exactly tactful, but I swear to God I’ve never laughed at you, Hank. In my heart I haven’t.”

She took his head in her arms. She could feel his crew cut under her chin; it was like black velvet. Henry, kissing her, drew her down to him on the floor of the landing.

Some time later, Jean Louise broke it up: “We’d better be going, Hank.”

“Not yet.”

“Yes.”

Hank said wearily, “The thing I hate most about this place is you always have to climb back up.”

“I have a friend in New York who always runs up stairs a mile a minute. Says it keeps him from getting out of breath. Why don’t you try it?”

“He your boyfriend?”

“Don’t be silly,” she said.

“You’ve said that once today.”

“Go to hell, then,” she said.

“You’ve said that once today.”

Jean Louise put her hands on her hips. “How would you like to go swimming with your clothes on? I haven’t said that once today. Right now I’d just as soon push you in as look at you.”

“You know, I think you’d do it.”

“I’d just as soon,” she nodded.

Henry grabbed her shoulder. “If I go you go with me.”

“I’ll make one concession,” she said. “You have until five to empty your pockets.”

“This is insane, Jean Louise,” he said, pulling out money, keys, billfold, cigarettes. He stepped out of his loafers.

They eyed one another like game roosters. Henry got the jump on her, but when she was falling she snatched at his shirt and took him with her. They swam swiftly in silence to the middle of the river, turned, and swam slowly to the landing. “Give me a hand up,” she said.

Dripping, their clothes clinging to them, they made their way up the steps. “We’ll be almost dry when we get to the car,” he said.

“There was a current out there tonight,” she said.

“Too much dissipation.”

“Careful I don’t push you off this bluff. I mean that.” She giggled. “Remember how Mrs. Merriweather used to do poor old Mr. Merriweather? When we’re married I’m gonna do you the same way.”

It was hard on Mr. Merriweather if he happened to quarrel with his wife while on a public highway. Mr. Merriweather could not drive, and if their dissension reached the acrimonious, Mrs. Merriweather would stop the car and hitchhike to town. Once they disagreed in a narrow lane, and Mr. Merriweather was abandoned for seven hours. Finally he hitched a ride on a passing wagon.

“When I’m in the legislature we can’t take midnight plunges,” said Henry.

“Then don’t run.”

The car hummed on. Gradually, the cool air receded and it was stifling again. Jean Louise saw the reflection of headlights behind them in the windshield, and a car passed. Soon another came by, and another. Maycomb was near.

With her head on his shoulder, Jean Louise was content. It might work after all, she thought. But I am not domestic. I don’t even know how to run a cook. What do ladies say to each other when they go visiting? I’d have to wear a hat. I’d drop the babies and kill ’em.

Something that looked like a giant black bee whooshed by them and careened around the curve ahead. She sat up, startled. “What was that?”

“Carload of Negroes.”

“Mercy, what do they think they’re doing?”

“That’s the way they assert themselves these days,” Henry said. “They’ve got enough money to buy used cars, and they get out on the highway like ninety-to-nothing. They’re a public menace.”

“Driver’s licenses?”

“Not many. No insurance, either.”

“Golly, what if something happens?”

“It’s just too sad.”

AT THE DOOR, Henry kissed her gently and let her go. “Tomorrow night?” he said.

She nodded. “Goodnight, sweet.”

Shoes in hand, she tiptoed into the front bedroom and turned on the light. She undressed, put on her pajama tops, and sneaked quietly into the livingroom. She turned on a lamp and went to the bookshelves. Oh murder, she thought. She ran her finger along the volumes of military history, lingered at The Second Punic War, and stopped at The Reason Why. Might as well bone up for Uncle Jack, she thought. She returned to her bedroom, snapped off the ceiling light, groped for the lamp, and switched it on. She climbed into the bed she was born in, read three pages, and fell asleep with the light on.


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