mockingbird chapter 49


Atticus went back to Jem’s room. Aunt Alexandra helped me out of my wire prison.

«Aunty, is Jem dead?»

«No — no, darling, he’s unconscious. We won’t know how badly he’s hurt until Dr. Reynolds gets here. Jean Louise, what happened?»

«I don’t know.»

Aunty didn’t ask me anything again. She brought me my overalls. «Put these on, darling,» she said and gave me the clothes she most despised.

A car stopped in front of the house. I knew Dr. Reynolds’s step almost as well as my father’s. He had brought Jem and me into the world, had led us through every childhood disease. «You’re still standing,» he said. He knew every room in the house. He also knew that if I was in bad form, so was Jem.

After a long time Dr. Reynolds returned. «Is Jem dead?» I asked.

«I may be wrong, of course, but I think he’s very alive,» he said, «He’s got a bump on the head just like yours, and a broken elbow. Somebody tried to tear his arm off… We can’t do much tonight except try to make him as comfortable as we can. Don’t worry, he’ll be as god as new.»

«Then he’s not dead?»

«No-o! Go have a look at him, and when I come back, we’ll get together and decide.» While he was talking, Dr. Reynolds had been looking attentively at me. As nothing was wrong with me except the bump on the head, he soon left the house.

Then Mr. Heck Tate came, and we went to Jem’s room. Jem was lying on his back. There was an ugly mark along one side of his face. His left arm elbow was bent slightly, but in the wrong direction. I called him, but Atticus said that he couldn’t hear me because Dr. Reynolds had given him a strong sedative.

The man who brought Jem into the house was standing in a corner. I didn’t know him.

Atticus was standing by Jem’s bed. Mr. Heck Tate stood in the doorway.

«Come in, Heck,» said Atticus. «Did you find anything?»

Mr. Tate looked at the man in the comer, nodded to him, then looked around the room — at Jem, at Aunt Alexandra, then at Atticus.

«Sit down, Mr. Finch,» he said.

Atticus said, «Let’s all sit down.»

«Mr. Finch,» said Mr. Tate, «tell you what I found. I found a little girl’s dress — it’s out there in my car. That your dress, Scout?»

«Yes sir, if it’s a pink one,» I said.

Mr. Tate looked around the room.

«What is it, Heck?» said Atticus.

Mr. Tate said, «Bob Ewell’s lyin’ on the ground under that tree with a kitchen knife in his breast. He’s dead, Mr. Finch, he won’t hurt these children again.»

Mr. Tate asked me to tell them what had happened. In detail, I told them everything as I remembered.

«Mr. Tate, I was shut up in my costume but I could hear the footsteps. They walked when we walked and stopped when we stopped. Jem said he could see me because Mrs. Crenshaw put some kind of shiny paint on my costume. I was a ham.»

«How’s that?» asked Mr. Tate, surprised.

Atticus described my role to Mr. Tate, plus the construction of my costume. «When she came in,» he said, «it was crushed to a pulp.»

Mr. Tate said, «Let me see that costume, sir.»

Atticus brought what was left of my costume. «This thing probably saved her life,» Mr. Tate said. «Look.»

He pointed with a long forefinger. A shiny clean line stood out on the dull wire. «Bob Ewell meant business,» Mr. Tate, muttered.

«He was out of his mind,» said Atticus.

«I don’t like to contradict you, Mr. Finch — he wasn’t crazy, he was mean as hell. A drunken skunk that was brave to kill children. He’d never have met you face to face.»

Atticus shook his head. «I can’t understand a man who’d-»

«Mr. Finch, there’s just some kind of men you have to shoot before you can say ‘how’d you do’ to them. Ewell was one of ’em.»

Mr. Tate sighed. «We’d better go on. Scout, you heard him behind you-»

«Yes sir. When we got under the tree, something grabbed me an’ crushed my costume…»

«And then?» Mr. Tate asked.

«Somebody was breathing heavily and — coughing awfully.»

«Who was it?»

«Why there he is, Mr. Tate, he can tell you his name.»

I wanted to point to the man in the comer, but remembered that it was impolite to point.

He was standing at the wall. As I turned to him, he pressed the palms of his hands against the wall. His hands and his face were very white, so white as if they had never seen the sun. He was very thin, his gray eyes were almost colorless and his hair was dead and thin. There were stains of sand on his pants and his shirt was tom.

I looked at him in silent wonderment. Then a timid smile appeared in his face, and my eyes filled with sudden tears.

«Hey, Boo,» I said.


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