mockingbird chapter 46


Misses Tutti and Frutti Barber were unmarried sisters, who lived together. Their house had a cellar. No other house in Maycomb had a cellar. People said that the Barber ladies were Republicans, who migrated from Clanton, Alabama, in 1911. Their ways were strange to us, and why they wanted a cellar nobody knew, but they wanted one and they dug one, and they had to chase generations of children out of it for the rest of their lives.

Misses Tutti and Frutti (their names were Sarah and Frances), besides their Yankee ways, were both deaf. Miss Tutti denied it and lived in a world of silence, but Miss Frutti, who didn’t want to miss anything, used an ear trumpet so big that Jem called it a loudspeaker.

At Halloween, some wicked children had waited until the Misses Barber were fast asleep, entered their living room (only the Radleys locked up at night), and stealthily carried every piece of furniture into the cellar.

At dawn next morning, the Misses Barber’s neighbors were awaken by the cry «I heard ’em!»

«Heard a truck at the door! Stomped around like horses. They’re in New Orleans by now!»

Miss Tutti was sure that fur sellers who came through town two days ago had stolen their furniture. «Dark they were,» she said. «Syrians.»

Miss Frutti asked Mr. Tate to bring the hounds and help locate their furniture. Mr. Tate started the dogs off at the Misses Barber’s front steps, and they ran around to the back of the house and barked at the cellar door. Mr. Tate guessed the truth. By noontime that day, no barefooted, children were seen in Maycomb and nobody took off his shoes until the hounds were taken away.

So the Maycomb ladies decided to organize a Halloween party at the high-school auditorium: a performance the grownups and games for the children; a prize of twenty-five cents for the best Halloween costume.

Mrs. Grace Merriweather had composed an original performance entitled Maycomb County. She thought it would be very nice if some of the children represented the county’s agricultural products in their costumes: Cecil Jacobs would be a cow; Agnes Boone would make a lovely bean, another child would be a peanut, I would be a ham, and so on.

We were to go on the stage when Mrs. Merriweather (not only the author, but the narrator) called us. When she called out, «Pork,» that was my turn. Then we all were to sing, «Maycomb County, Maycomb County, we will all be true to thee,» and Mrs. Merriweather was to put the state flag on the stage.

My costume was not much of a problem. Mrs. Crenshaw, the local seamstress, took some chicken wire and bent it into the shape of a piece of ham. She covered it with brown cloth, and painted it like ham. I could duck under and someone was to pull this thing down over my head. It came almost to my knees. Mrs. Crenshaw thoughtfully left two peepholes for me. She did a fine job. Jem said I looked exactly like a ham with legs. But there were several discomforts: it was hot, it was narrow; if my nose itched I couldn’t scratch, and I could not get out of it without help.

When Halloween came, I thought that the whole family would be present at my performance. But Atticus was so tired; he had been in Montgomery for a week and had come home late that afternoon. He told me to ask Jem to escort me.

Aunt Alexandra was also very tired: she’d been decorating the stage all afternoon and simply had to go to bed early. She said that it would be nice if I gave the family a preview in the living room. So Jem helped me into my costume, stood at the living room door, called out «Po-ork,» and I marched in. Atticus and Aunt Alexandra were delighted.

I repeated my part for Calpumia in the kitchen and she said I was wonderful.

Jem agreed to escort me. So we started on our longest journey together.


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