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19

SHE WALKED INTO the foyer of the office. She saw Henry still at his desk. She went to him.

Hank?

Hello, he said.

Seven-thirty tonight? she said.

Yes.

As they made a date for their leave-taking, a tide was running, returning, and she ran to meet it. He was a part of her, as timeless as Finchs Landing, as the Coninghams and Old Sarum. Maycomb and Maycomb County had taught him things she had never known, could never learn, and Maycomb had rendered her useless to him as anything other than his oldest friend.

That you, Jean Louise?

Her fathers voice frightened her.

Yes sir.

Atticus walked from his office to the foyer and took down his hat and stick from the hat rack. Ready? he said.

Ready. You can say ready to me. What are you, that I tried to obliterate and grind into the earth, and you say ready? I cant beat you, I cant join you. Dont you know that?

She went to him. Atticus, she said. Im

You may be sorry, but Im proud of you.

She looked up and saw her father beaming at her.

What?

I said Im proud of you.

I dont understand you. I dont understand men at all and I never will.

Well, I certainly hoped a daughter of mined hold her ground for what she thinks is right-stand up to me first of all.

Jean Louise rubbed her nose. I called you some pretty grim things, she said.

Atticus said, I can take anything anybody calls me so long as its not true. You dont even know how to cuss, Jean Louise. By the way, where did you pick up the ring-tailed variety?

Right here in Maycomb.

Dear goodness, the things you learned.

Dear goodness, the things I learned. I did not want my world disturbed, but I wanted to crush the man whos trying to preserve it for me. I wanted to stamp out all the people like him. I guess its like an airplane: theyre the drag and were the thrust, together we make the thing fly. Too much of us and were nose-heavy, too much of them and were tail-heavy-its a matter of balance. I cant beat him, and I cant join him-

Atticus?

Maam?

I think I love you very much.

She saw her old enemys shoulders relax, and she watched him push his hat to the back of his head. Lets go home, Scout. Its been a long day. Open the door for me.

She stepped aside to let him pass. She followed him to the car and watched him get laboriously into the front seat. As she welcomed him silently to the human race, the stab of discovery made her tremble a little. Somebody walked over my grave, she thought, probably Jem on some idiotic errand.

She went around the car, and as she slipped under the steering wheel, this time she was careful not to bump her head.


| Go Set a Watchman |