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

Henry Clinton’s class in Law School at the University was composed of bright, humorless young veterans. The competition was terrific, but Henry was accustomed to hard work. Although he was able to keep up and manage very well, he learned little of practical value. Atticus Finch was right when he said the only good the University did Henry was let him make friends with Alabama’s future politicians, demagogues, and statesmen. One began to get an inkling of what law was about only when the time came to practice it. Alabama and common law pleading, for instance, was a subject so ethereal in nature that Henry passed it only by memorizing the book. The bitter little man who taught the course was the lone professor in the school who had guts enough to try to teach it, and even he evinced the rigidity of imperfect understanding. “Mr. Clinton,” he had said, when Henry ventured to inquire about a particularly ambiguous examination, “you may write until doomsday for all I care, but if your answers do not coincide with my answers they are wrong. Wrong, sir.” No wonder Atticus confounded Henry in the early days of their association by saying, “Pleading’s little more than putting on paper what you want to say.” Patiently and unobtrusively Atticus had taught him everything Henry knew about his craft, but Henry sometimes wondered if he would be as old as Atticus before he reduced law to his possession. Tom, Tom, the chimney sweep’s son. Was that the old bailment case? No, the first of the treasure trove cases: possession holds good against all comers except the true owner. The boy found a brooch. He looked down at Jean Louise. She was dozing.

He was her true owner, that was clear to him. From the time she threw rocks at him; when she almost blew her head off playing with gunpowder; when she would spring upon him from behind, catch him in a hard half nelson, and make him say Calf Rope; when she was ill and delirious one summer yelling for him and Jem and Dill—Henry wondered where Dill was. Jean Louise would know, she kept in touch.

“Honey, where’s Dill?”

Jean Louise opened her eyes. “Italy, last time I heard.”

She stirred. Charles Baker Harris. Dill, the friend of her heart. She yawned and watched the front of the car consume the white line in the highway. “Where are we?”

“Ten more miles to go yet.”

She said, “You can feel the river already.”

“You must be half alligator,” said Henry. “I can’t.”

“Is Two-Toed Tom still around?”

Two-Toed Tom lived wherever there was a river. He was a genius: he made tunnels beneath Maycomb and ate people’s chickens at night; he was once tracked from Demopolis to Tensas. He was as old as Maycomb County.

“We might see him tonight.”

“What made you think of Dill?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Just thought of him.”

“You never liked him, did you?”

Henry smiled. “I was jealous of him. He had you and Jem to himself all summer long, while I had to go home the day school was out. There was nobody at home to fool around with.”

She was silent. Time stopped, shifted, and went lazily in reverse. Somehow, then, it was always summer. Hank was down at his mother’s and unavailable, and Jem had to make do with his younger sister for company. The days were long, Jem was eleven, and the pattern was set:

They were on the sleeping porch, the coolest part of the house. They slept there every night from the beginning of May to the end of September. Jem, who had been lying on his cot reading since daybreak, thrust a football magazine in her face, pointed to a picture, and said, “Who’s this, Scout?”

“Johnny Mack Brown. Let’s play a story.”

Jem rattled the page at her. “Who’s this then?”

“You,” she said.

“Okay. Call Dill.”

It was unnecessary to call Dill. The cabbages trembled in Miss Rachel’s garden, the back fence groaned, and Dill was with them. Dill was a curiosity because he was from Meridian, Mississippi, and was wise in the ways of the world. He spent every summer in Maycomb with his great-aunt, who lived next door to the Finches. He was a short, square-built, cotton-headed individual with the face of an angel and the cunning of a stoat. He was a year older than she, but she was a head taller.

“Hey,” said Dill. “Let’s play Tarzan today. I’m gonna be Tarzan.”

“You can’t be Tarzan,” said Jem.

“I’m Jane,” she said.

“Well, I’m not going to be the ape again,” said Dill. “I always have to be the ape.”

“You want to be Jane, then?” asked Jem. He stretched, pulled on his pants, and said, “We’ll play Tom Swift. I’m Tom.”

“I’m Ned,” said Dill and she together. “No you’re not,” she said to Dill.

Dill’s face reddened. “Scout, you always have to be second-best. I never am the second-best.”

“You want to do something about it?” she asked politely, clenching her fists.

Jem said, “You can be Mr. Damon, Dill. He’s always funny and he saves everybody in the end. You know, he always blesses everything.”

“Bless my insurance policy,” said Dill, hooking his thumbs through invisible suspenders. “Oh all right.”

“What’s it gonna be,” said Jem, “His Ocean Airport or His Flying Machine?”

“I’m tired of those,” she said. “Make us up one.”

“Okay. Scout, you’re Ned Newton. Dill, you’re Mr. Damon. Now, one day Tom’s in his laboratory working on a machine that can see through a brick wall when this man comes in and says, ‘Mr. Swift?’ I’m Tom, so I say, ‘Yessir?’—”

“Can’t anything see through a brick wall,” said Dill.

“This thing could. Anyway, this man comes in and says, ‘Mr. Swift?’”

“Jem,” she said, “if there’s gonna be this man we’ll need somebody else. Want me to run get Bennett?”

“No, this man doesn’t last long, so I’ll just tell his part. You’ve got to begin a story, Scout—”

This man’s part consisted of advising the young inventor that a valuable professor had been lost in the Belgian Congo for thirty years and it was high time somebody tried to get him out. Naturally he had come to seek the services of Tom Swift and his friends, and Tom leaped at the prospect of adventure.

The three climbed into His Flying Machine, which was composed of wide boards they had long ago nailed across the chinaberry tree’s heaviest branches.

“It’s awful hot up here,” said Dill. “Huh-huh-huh.”

“What?” said Jem.

“I say it’s awful hot up here so close to the sun. Bless my long underwear.”

“You can’t say that, Dill. The higher you go the colder it gets.”

“I reckon it gets hotter.”

“Well, it doesn’t. The higher it is the colder it is because the air gets thinner. Now Scout, you say, ‘Tom, where are we going?’”

“I thought we were going to Belgium,” said Dill.

“You’ve got to say where are we going because the man told me, he didn’t tell you, and I haven’t told you yet, see?”

They saw.

When Jem explained their mission, Dill said, “If he’s been lost for that long, how do they know he’s alive?”

Jem said, “This man said he’d got a signal from the Gold Coast that Professor Wiggins was—”

“If he’d just heard from him, how come he’s lost?” she said.

“—was among a lost tribe of headhunters,” continued Jem, ignoring her. “Ned, do you have the rifle with the X-ray Sight? Now you say yes.”

She said, “Yes, Tom.”

“Mr. Damon, have you stocked the Flying Machine with enough provisions? Mister Damon!”

Dill jerked to attention. “Bless my rolling pin, Tom. Yes-siree! Huh-huh-huh!”