Go Set a Watchman (To Kill a Mockingbird #2)
Author:Harper Lee

THE RITUAL ENACTED on Saturday nights between Jean Louise and her father was too old to be broken. Jean Louise walked into the livingroom and stood in front of his chair. She cleared her throat.

Atticus put down the Mobile Press and looked at her. She turned around slowly.

“Am I all zipped up? Stocking seams straight? Is my cowlick down?”

“Seven o’clock and all’s well,” said Atticus. “You’ve been swearing at your aunt.”

“I have not.”

“She told me you had.”

“I was crude, but I didn’t cuss her.” When Jean Louise and her brother were children, Atticus had occasionally drawn them a sharp distinction between mere scatology and blasphemy. The one he could abide; he hated dragging God into it. As a result, Jean Louise and her brother never swore in his presence.

“She got my goat, Atticus.”

“You shouldn’t have let her. What did you say to her?”

Jean Louise told him. Atticus winced. “Well, you’d better make peace with her. Sweet, she gets on a high horse sometimes, but she’s a good woman—”

“It was about Hank and she made me mad.”

Atticus was a wise man, so he dropped the subject.

The Finch doorbell was a mystical instrument; it was possible to tell the state of mind of whoever pushed it. When it said deeding! Jean Louise knew Henry was outside bearing down happily. She hurried to the door.

The pleasant, remotely masculine smell of him hit her when he walked into the hall, but shaving cream, tobacco, new car, and dusty books faded at the memory of the conversation in the kitchen. Suddenly she put her arms around his waist and nuzzled her head on his chest.

“What was that for?” said Henry delightedly.

“General Principles, who fought in the Peninsular War. Let’s get going.”

Henry peered around the corner at Atticus in the livingroom. “I’ll bring her home early, Mr. Finch.” Atticus jiggled the paper at him.

When they walked out into the night, Jean Louise wondered what Alexandra would do if she knew her niece was closer to marrying trash than she had ever been in her life.





PART II





4


THE TOWN OF Maycomb, Alabama, owed its location to the presence of mind of one Sinkfield, who in the early dawnings of the county operated an inn where two pig trails met, the only tavern in the territory. Governor William Wyatt Bibb, with a view to promoting the domestic tranquillity of the new county, sent out a team of surveyors to locate its exact center and there establish its seat of government: had not Sinkfield made a bold stroke to preserve his holdings, Maycomb would have sat in the middle of Winston Swamp, a place totally devoid of interest.

Instead, Maycomb grew and sprawled out from its hub, Sinkfield’s Tavern, because Sinkfield made the surveyors drunk one evening, induced them to bring forward their maps and charts, lop off a little here, add a bit there, and adjust the center of the county to meet his requirements. He sent them packing the next day armed with their charts and five quarts of shinny in their saddlebags—two apiece and one for the Governor.

Jean Louise could never make up her mind whether Sinkfield’s maneuver was wise; he placed the young town twenty miles away from the only kind of public transportation in those days—river-boat—and it took a man from the south end of the county two days to journey to Maycomb for store-bought goods. Consequently, the town remained the same size for over 150 years. Its primary reason for existence was government. What saved it from becoming another grubby little Alabama community was that Maycomb’s proportion of professional people ran high: one went to Maycomb to have his teeth pulled, his wagon fixed, his heart listened to, his money deposited, his mules vetted, his soul saved, his mortgage extended.

New people rarely went there to live. The same families married the same families until relationships were hopelessly entangled and the members of the community looked monotonously alike. Jean Louise, until the Second World War, was related by blood or marriage to nearly everybody in the town, but this was mild compared to what went on in the northern half of Maycomb County: there was a community called Old Sarum populated by two families, separate and apart in the beginning, but unfortunately bearing the same name. The Cunninghams and the Coninghams married each other until the spelling of the names was academic—academic unless a Cunningham wished to jape with a Coningham over land titles and took to the law. The only time Jean Louise ever saw Judge Taylor at a dead standstill in open court was during a dispute of this kind. Jeems Cunningham testified that his mother spelled it Cunningham occasionally on deeds and things but she was really a Coningham, she was an uncertain speller, and she was given to looking far away sometimes when she sat on the front porch. After nine hours of listening to the vagaries of Old Sarum’s inhabitants, Judge Taylor threw the case out of court on grounds of frivolous pleading and declared he hoped to God the litigants were satisfied by each having had his public say. They were. That was all they had wanted in the first place.

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