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

“Aunty,” she said. “I’ve come home for two weeks of just sitting, pure and simple. I doubt if I’ll ever move from the house the whole time. I beat my brains out all year round—”

She stood up and went to the fireplace, glared at the mantelpiece, and turned around. “If the folks in Maycomb don’t get one impression, they’ll get another. They’re certainly not used to seeing me dressed up.” Her voice became patient: “Look, if I suddenly sprang on ’em fully clothed they’d say I’d gone New York. Now you come along and say they think I don’t care what they think when I go around in slacks. Good Lord, Aunty, Maycomb knows I didn’t wear anything but overalls till I started having the Curse—”

Atticus forgot his hands. He bent over to tie perfectly tied shoelaces and came up with a flushed but straight face. “That’ll do, Scout,” he said. “Apologize to your aunt. Don’t start a row the minute you get home.”

Jean Louise smiled at her father. When registering disapprobation, he always reverted back to her childhood nickname. She sighed. “I’m sorry, Aunty. I’m sorry, Hank. I am oppressed, Atticus.”

“Then go back to New York and be uninhibited.”

Alexandra stood up and smoothed the various whalebone ridges running up and down her person. “Did you have any dinner on the train?”

“Yessum,” she lied.

“Then how about coffee?”

“Please.”

“Hank?”

“Yessum, please.”

Alexandra left the room without consulting her brother. Jean Louise said, “Still haven’t learned to drink it?”

“No,” said her father.

“Whiskey either?”

“No.”

“Cigarettes and women?”

“No.”

“You have any fun these days?”

“I manage.”

Jean Louise made a golf grip with her hands. “How is it?” she asked.

“None of your business.”

“Can you still use a putter?”

“Yes.”

“You used to do pretty well for a blind man.”

Atticus said, “There’s nothing wrong with my—”

“Nothing except you just can’t see.”

“Would you care to prove that statement?”

“Yes sir. Tomorrow at three okay?”

“Yes—no. I’ve got a meeting on. How about Monday? Hank, do we have anything on for Monday afternoon?”

Hank stirred. “Nothing but that mortgage coming up at one. Shouldn’t take more than an hour.”

Atticus said to his daughter, “I’m your man, then. From the looks of you, Miss Priss, it’ll be the blind leading the blind.”

At the fireplace, Jean Louise had picked up a blackened old wooden-shaft putter which had done years of double-duty as a poker. She emptied a great antique spittoon of its contents—golf balls—turned it on its side, kicked the golf balls into the middle of the livingroom, and was putting them back into the spittoon when her aunt reappeared carrying a tray of coffee, cups and saucers, and cake.

“Between you and your father and your brother,” Alexandra said, “that rug is a disgrace. Hank, when I came to keep house for him the first thing I did was have it dyed as dark as I could. You remember how it used to look? Why, there was a black path from here to the fireplace nothing could take out….”

Hank said, “I remember it, ma’am. I’m afraid I was a contributor to it.”

Jean Louise drove the putter home beside the fire tongs, gathered up the golf balls, and threw them at the spittoon. She sat on the sofa and watched Hank retrieve the strays. I never tire of watching him move, she thought.

He returned, drank a cup of scalding black coffee at an alarming rate of speed, and said, “Mr. Finch, I’d better be going.”

“Wait a bit and I’ll come with you,” said Atticus.

“Feel like it, sir?”

“Certainly. Jean Louise,” he said suddenly, “how much of what’s going on down here gets into the newspapers?”

“You mean politics? Well, every time the Governor’s indiscreet it hits the tabloids, but beyond that, nothing.”

“I mean about the Supreme Court’s bid for immortality.”

“Oh, that. Well, to hear the Post tell it, we lynch ’em for breakfast; the Journal doesn’t care; and the Times is so wrapped up in its duty to posterity it bores you to death. I haven’t paid any attention to it except for the bus strikes and that Mississippi business. Atticus, the state’s not getting a conviction in that case was our worst blunder since Pickett’s Charge.”

“Yes, it was. I suppose the papers made hay with it?”

“They went insane.”

“And the NAACP?”

“I don’t know anything about that bunch except that some misguided clerk sent me some NAACP Christmas seals last year, so I stuck ’em on all the cards I sent home. Did Cousin Edgar get his?”

“He did, and he made a few suggestions as to what I should do with you.” Her father was smiling broadly.

“Like what?”

“That I should go to New York, grab you by the hair of the head, and take a switch to you. Edgar’s always disapproved of you, says you’re much too independent….”

“Never did have a sense of humor, pompous old catfish. That’s just what he is: whiskers here and here and a catfish mouth. I reckon he thinks my living alone in New York is ipso facto living in sin.”

“It amounts to that,” said Atticus. He hauled himself out of the armchair and motioned for Henry to get going.

Henry turned to Jean Louise. “Seven-thirty, honey?”

She nodded, then looked at her aunt out of the corner of her eye. “All right if I wear my slacks?”

“No ma’am.”

“Good for you, Hank,” said Alexandra.





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