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

“Just fine,” she said, and wondered who else in Maycomb still remembered Scout Finch, juvenile desperado, hellraiser extraordinary. Nobody but Uncle Jack, perhaps, who sometimes embarrassed her unmercifully in front of company with a tinkling recitative of her childhood felonies. She would see him at church tomorrow, and tomorrow afternoon she would have a long visit with him. Uncle Jack was one of the abiding pleasures of Maycomb.

“Why is it,” said Henry deliberately, “that you never drink more than half your second cup of coffee after supper?”

She looked down at her cup, surprised. Any reference to her personal eccentricities, even from Henry, made her shy. Astute of Hank to notice that. Why had he waited fifteen years to tell her?





5


WHEN SHE WAS getting in the car she bumped her head hard against its top. “Damnation! Why don’t they make these things high enough to get into?” She rubbed her forehead until her eyes focused.

“Okay, honey?”

“Yeah. I’m all right.”

Henry shut the door softly, went around, and got in beside her. “Too much city living,” he said. “You’re never in a car up there, are you?”

“No. How long before they’ll cut ’em down to one foot high? We’ll be riding prone next year.”

“Shot out of a cannon,” said Henry. “Shot from Maycomb to Mobile in three minutes.”

“I’d be content with an old square Buick. Remember them? You sat at least five feet off the ground.”

Henry said, “Remember when Jem fell out of the car?”

She laughed. “That was my hold over him for weeks—anybody who couldn’t get to Barker’s Eddy without falling out of the car was a big wet hen.”

In the dim past, Atticus had owned an old canvas-top touring car, and once when he was taking Jem, Henry, and Jean Louise swimming, the car rolled over a particularly bad hump in the road and deposited Jem without. Atticus drove serenely on until they reached Barker’s Eddy, because Jean Louise had no intention of advising her father that Jem was no longer present, and she prevented Henry from doing so by catching his finger and bending it back. When they arrived at the creek bank, Atticus turned around with a hearty “Everybody out!” and the smile froze on his face: “Where’s Jem?” Jean Louise said he ought to be coming along any minute now. When Jem appeared puffing, sweaty, and filthy from his enforced sprint, he ran straight past them and dived into the creek with his clothes on. Seconds later a murderous face appeared from beneath the surface, saying, “Come on in here, Scout! I dare you, Hank!” They took his dare, and once Jean Louise thought Jem would choke the life out of her, but he let her go eventually: Atticus was there.

“They’ve put a planing mill on the eddy,” said Henry. “Can’t swim in it now.”

Henry drove up to the E-Lite Eat Shop and honked the horn. “Give us two set-ups please, Bill,” he said to the youth who appeared at his summons.

In Maycomb, one drank or did not drink. When one drank, one went behind the garage, turned up a pint, and drank it down; when one did not drink, one asked for set-ups at the E-Lite Eat Shop under cover of darkness: a man having a couple of drinks before or after dinner in his home or with his neighbor was unheard of. That was Social Drinking. Those who Drank Socially were not quite out of the top drawer, and because no one in Maycomb considered himself out of any drawer but the top, there was no Social Drinking.

“Make mine light, honey,” she said. “Just color the water.”

“Haven’t you learned to hold it yet?” Henry said. He reached under the seat and came up with a brown bottle of Seagram’s Seven.

“Not the hard kind,” she said.

Henry colored the water in her paper cup. He poured himself a man-sized drink, stirred it with his finger, and bottle between his knees, he replaced its cap. He shoved it under the seat and started the car.

“We’re off,” he said.

The car tires hummed on the asphalt and made her sleepy. The one thing she liked most about Henry Clinton was that he let her be silent when she wanted to be. She did not have to entertain him.

Henry never attempted to pester her when she was thus. His attitude was Asquithian, and he knew she appreciated him for his patience. She did not know he was learning that virtue from her father. “Relax, son,” Atticus had told him in one of his rare comments on her. “Don’t push her. Let her go at her own speed. Push her and every mule in the county’d be easier to live with.”