To Kill a Mockingbird
Author:Harper Lee

“Then he’s not dead?”

“No-o!” Dr. Reynolds got to his feet. “We can’t do much tonight,” he said, “except try to make him as comfortable as we can. We’ll have to X-ray his arm—looks like he’ll be wearing his arm ‘way out by his side for a while. Don’t worry, though, he’ll be as good as new. Boys his age bounce.”

While he was talking, Dr. Reynolds had been looking keenly at me, lightly fingering the bump that was coming on my forehead. “You don’t feel broke anywhere, do you?”

Dr. Reynolds’s small joke made me smile. “Then you don’t think he’s dead, then?”

He put on his hat. “Now I may be wrong, of course, but I think he’s very alive. Shows all the symptoms of it. Go have a look at him, and when I come back we’ll get together and decide.”

Dr. Reynolds’s step was young and brisk. Mr. Heck Tate’s was not. His heavy boots punished the porch and he opened the door awkwardly, but he said the same thing Dr. Reynolds said when he came in. “You all right, Scout?” he added.

“Yes sir, I’m goin‘ in to see Jem. Atticus’n’them’s in there.”

“I’ll go with you,” said Mr. Tate.

Aunt Alexandra had shaded Jem’s reading light with a towel, and his room was dim. Jem was lying on his back. There was an ugly mark along one side of his face. His left arm lay out from his body; his elbow was bent slightly, but in the wrong direction. Jem was frowning.

“Jem…?”

Atticus spoke. “He can’t hear you, Scout, he’s out like a light. He was coming around, but Dr. Reynolds put him out again.”

“Yes sir.” I retreated. Jem’s room was large and square. Aunt Alexandra was sitting in a rocking-chair by the fireplace. The man who brought Jem in was standing in a corner, leaning against the wall. He was some countryman I did not know. He had probably been at the pageant, and was in the vicinity when it happened. He must have heard our screams and come running.

Atticus was standing by Jem’s bed.

Mr. Heck Tate stood in the doorway. His hat was in his hand, and a flashlight bulged from his pants pocket. He was in his working clothes.

“Come in, Heck,” said Atticus. “Did you find anything? I can’t conceive of anyone low-down enough to do a thing like this, but I hope you found him.”

Mr. Tate sniffed. He glanced sharply at the man in the corner, nodded to him, then looked around the room—at Jem, at Aunt Alexandra, then at Atticus.

“Sit down, Mr. Finch,” he said pleasantly.

Atticus said, “Let’s all sit down. Have that chair, Heck. I’ll get another one from the livingroom.”

Mr. Tate sat in Jem’s desk chair. He waited until Atticus returned and settled himself. I wondered why Atticus had not brought a chair for the man in the corner, but Atticus knew the ways of country people far better than I. Some of his rural clients would park their long-eared steeds under the chinaberry trees in the back yard, and Atticus would often keep appointments on the back steps. This one was probably more comfortable where he was.

“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 with smockin‘,” I said. Mr. Tate was behaving as if he were on the witness stand. He liked to tell things his own way, untrammeled by state or defense, and sometimes it took him a while.

“I found some funny-looking pieces of muddy-colored cloth—”

“That’s m’costume, Mr. Tate.”

Mr. Tate ran his hands down his thighs. He rubbed his left arm and investigated Jem’s mantelpiece, then he seemed to be interested in the fireplace. His fingers sought his long nose.

“What is it, Heck?” said Atticus.

Mr. Tate found his neck and rubbed it. “Bob Ewell’s lyin‘ on the ground under that tree down yonder with a kitchen knife stuck up under his ribs. He’s dead, Mr. Finch.”





Chapter 29


Aunt Alexandra got up and reached for the mantelpiece. Mr. Tate rose, but she declined assistance. For once in his life, Atticus’s instinctive courtesy failed him: he sat where he was.

Somehow, I could think of nothing but Mr. Bob Ewell saying he’d get Atticus if it took him the rest of his life. Mr. Ewell almost got him, and it was the last thing he did.

“Are you sure?” Atticus said bleakly.

“He’s dead all right,” said Mr. Tate. “He’s good and dead. He won’t hurt these children again.”

“I didn’t mean that.” Atticus seemed to be talking in his sleep. His age was beginning to show, his one sign of inner turmoil, the strong line of his jaw melted a little, one became aware of telltale creases forming under his ears, one noticed not his jet-black hair but the gray patches growing at his temples.

“Hadn’t we better go to the livingroom?” Aunt Alexandra said at last.

“If you don’t mind,” said Mr. Tate, “I’d rather us stay in here if it won’t hurt Jem any. I want to have a look at his injuries while Scout… tells us about it.”

“Is it all right if I leave?” she asked. “I’m just one person too many in here. I’ll be in my room if you want me, Atticus.” Aunt Alexandra went to the door, but she stopped and turned. “Atticus, I had a feeling about this tonight—I—this is my fault,” she began. “I should have—”

Mr. Tate held up his hand. “You go ahead, Miss Alexandra, I know it’s been a shock to you. And don’t you fret yourself about anything—why, if we followed our feelings all the time we’d be like cats chasin‘ their tails. Miss Scout, see if you can tell us what happened, while it’s still fresh in your mind. You think you can? Did you see him following you?”

I went to Atticus and felt his arms go around me. I buried my head in his lap. “We started home. I said Jem, I’ve forgot m’shoes. Soon’s we started back for ‘em the lights went out. Jem said I could get ’em tomorrow…”

“Scout, raise up so Mr. Tate can hear you,” Atticus said. I crawled into his lap.

“Then Jem said hush a minute. I thought he was thinkin‘—he always wants you to hush so he can think—then he said he heard somethin’. We thought it was Cecil.”