Go Set a Watchman/20

re now--then you'll be a case and not my niece. You have a tendency not to give anybody elbow room in your mind for their ideas, no matter how silly you think they are."

Dr. Finch clasped his hands and rested them on the back of his head. "Good grief, baby, people don't agree with the Klan, but they certainly don't try to prevent them from puttin' on sheets and making fools of themselves in public."

"Why did you let Mr. O'Hanlon get up there?" "Because he wanted to." Oh God, what have I done?

"But they beat people, Uncle Jack--"

"Now, that's another thing, and it's just one more thing you've failed to take into consideration about your father. You've been extravagant with your talk of despots, Hitlers, and ring-tailed sons of bitches--by the way, where did you get that? Reminds me of a cold winter's night, possum hunting--"

Jean Louise winced. "He told you all that?"

"Oh yes, but don't start worrying about what you called him. He's got a lawyer's hide. He's been called worse in his day."

"Not by his daughter, though."

"Well, as I was saying--"

For the first time in her memory, her uncle was bringing her back to the point. For the second time in her memory, her uncle was out of character: the first time was when he sat mutely in their old livingroom, listening to the soft murmurs: the Lord never sends you more than you can bear, and he said, "My shoulders ache. Is there any whiskey in this house?" This is a day of miracles, she thought.

"--the Klan can parade around all it wants, but when it starts bombing and beating people, don't you know who'd be the first to try and stop it?"

"Yes sir."

"The law is what he lives by. He'll do his best to prevent someone from beating up somebody else, then he'll turn around and try to stop no less than the Federal Government--just like you, child. You turned and tackled no less than your own tin god--but remember this, he'll always do it by the letter and by the spirit of the law. That's the way he lives."

"Uncle Jack--"

"Now don't start feeling guilty, Jean Louise. You've done nothing wrong this day. And don't, for the sake of John Henry Newman, start worrying over what a bigot you are. I told you you were only a turnip-sized one."

"But Uncle Jack--"

"Remember this also: it's always easy to look back and see what we were, yesterday, ten years ago. It is hard to see what we are. If you can master that trick, you'll get along."

"Uncle Jack, I thought I'd gone through all that being-disillusioned-about-your-parents stuff when I took my bachelor's degree, but there's something--"

Her uncle began fidgeting with his coat pockets. He found what he was seeking, pulled one from the package, and said, "Have you a match?"

Jean Louise was mesmerized.

"I said, do you have a match?"

"Have you gone nuts? You beat hell out of me when you caught me at it ... you old bastard!"

He had, unceremoniously, one Christmas when he found her under the house with stolen cigarettes.

"This should prove to you there's no justice in this world. I smoke sometimes, now. It's my one concession to old age. I find myself becoming anxious sometimes ... it gives me something to do with my hands."

Jean Louise found a match flip on the table by her chair. She struck one and held it to her uncle's cigarette. Something to do with his hands, she thought. She wondered how many times his hands in rubber gloves, impersonal and omnipotent, had set some child on its feet. He's crazy, all right.

Dr. Finch held his cigarette with his thumb and two fingers. He looked at it pensively. "You're color blind, Jean Louise," he said. "You always have been, you always will be. The only differences you see between one human and another are differences in looks and intelligence and character and the like. You've never been prodded to look at people as a race, and now that race is the burning issue of the day, you're still unable to think racially. You see only people."

"But, Uncle Jack, I don't especially want to run out and marry a Negro or something."

"You know, I practiced medicine for nearly twenty years, and I'm afraid I regard human beings mostly on a basis of relative suffering, but I'll risk a small pronouncement. There's nothing under the sun that says because you go to school with one Negro, or go to school with them in droves, you'll want to marry one. That's one of the tom-toms the white supremacists beat. How many mixed marriages have you seen in New York?"

"Come to think of it, darn few. Relatively, that is."

"There's your answer. The white supremacists are really pretty smart. If they can't scare us with the essential inferiority line, they'll wrap it in a miasma of sex, because that's the one thing they know is feared in our fundamentalist hearts down here. They try to strike terror in Southern mothers, lest their children grow up to fall in love with Negroes. If they didn't make an issue of it, the issue would rarely arise. If the issue arose, it would be met on private ground. The NAACP has a great deal to answer for in that department, too. But the white supremacists fear reason, because they know cold reason beats them. Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends."

"That's odd, isn't it?"

"It's one of the oddities of this world." Dr. Finch got up from the sofa and extinguished his cigarette in an ashtray on the table beside her. "Now, young lady, take me home. It's nearly five. It's almost time for you to fetch your father."

Jean Louise surfaced. "Get Atticus? I'll never be able to look him in the eye again!"

"Listen, girl. You've got to shake off a twenty-year-old habit and shake it off fast. You will begin now. Do you think Atticus is going to hurl a thunderbolt at you?"

"After what I said to him? After the--"

Dr. Finch jabbed the floor with his walking stick. "Jean Louise, have you ever met your father?"

No. She had not. She was terrified.

"I think you'll have a surprise coming," said her uncle.

"Uncle Jack, I can't."

"Don't you tell me you can't, girl! Say that again and I'll take this stick to you, I mean that!"

They walked to the car.

"Jean Louise, have you ever thought about coming home?"


"If you will refrain from echoing either the last clause or the last word of everything I say to you, I will be much obliged. Home. Yes, home."

Jean Louise grinned. He was becoming Uncle Jack again. "No sir," she said.

"Well, at the risk of overloading you, could you possibly give an undertaking to think about it? You may not know it, but there's room for you down here."

"You mean Atticus needs me?"

"Not altogether. I was thinking of Maycomb."

"That'd be great, with me on one side and everybody else on the other. If life's an endless flow of the kind of talk I heard this morning, I don't think I'd exactly fit in."

"That's the one thing about here, the South, you've missed. You'd be amazed if you knew how many people are on your side, if side's the right word. You're no special case. The woods are full of people like you, but we need some more of you."

She started the car and backed it down the driveway. She said, "What on earth could I do? I can't fight them. There's no fight in me any more...."

"I don't mean by fighting; I mean by going to work every morning, coming home at night, seeing your friends."

"Uncle Jack, I can't live in a place that I don't agree with and that doesn't agree with me."

Dr. Finch said, "Hmph. Melbourne said--"

"If you tell me what Melbourne said I'll stop this car and put you out, right here! I know how you hate to walk--after your stroll to church and back and pushin' that cat around the yard, you've had it. I'll put you right out, and don't you think I won't!"

Dr. Finch sighed. "You're mighty belligerent toward a feeble old man, but if you wish to continue in darkness that is your privilege...."

"Feeble, hell! You're about as feeble as a crocodile!" Jean Louise touched her mouth.

"Very well, if you won't let me tell you what Melbourne said I'll put it in my own words: the time your friends need you is when they're wrong, Jean Louise. They don't need you when they're right--"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean it takes a certain kind of maturity to live in the South these days. You don't have it yet, but you have a shadow of the beginnings of it. You haven't the humbleness of mind--"

"I thought fear of the Lord was the beginning of wisdom."

"It's the same thing. Humility."

They had come to his house. She stopped the car.

"Uncle Jack," she said. "What am I going to do about Hank?"

"What you will eventually," he said.

"Let him down easy?"

"Um hum."


"He's not your kind."

Love whom you will, marry your own kind. "Look, I'm not going to argue with you over the relative merits of trash--"

"That has nothing to do with it. I'm tired of you. I want my supper."

Dr. Finch put his hand out and pinched her chin. "Good afternoon, Miss," he said.

"Why did you take so much trouble with me today? I know how you hate to move out of that house."

"Because you're my child. You and Jem were the children I never had. You two gave me something long ago, and I'm trying to pay my debts. You two helped me a--"

"How, sir?"

Dr. Finch's eyebrows went up. "Didn't you know? Hasn't Atticus gotten around to telling you that? Why, I'm amazed at Zandra not ... good heavens, I thought all of Maycomb knew that."

"Knew what?"

"I was in love with your mother."

"My mother?"

"Oh yes. When Atticus married her, and I'd come home from Nashville for Christmas and things like that, why I fell head over heels in love with her. I still am--didn't you know that?"

Jean Louise put her head on the steering wheel. "Uncle Jack, I'm so ashamed of myself I don't know what to do. Me yelling around like--oh, I could kill myself!"

"I shouldn't do that. There's been enough focal suicide for one day."

"All that time, you--"

"Why sure, honey."

"Did Atticus know it?"


"Uncle Jack, I feel one inch high."

"Well, I didn't mean to do that. You're not by yourself, Jean Louise. You're no special case. Now go get your father."

"You can say all this, just like that?"

"Um hum. Just like that. As I said, you and Jem were very special to me--you were my dream-children, but as Kipling said, that's another story ... call on me tomorrow, and you'll find me a grave man."

He was the only person she ever knew who could paraphrase three authors into one sentence and have them all make sense.

"Thanks, Uncle Jack."

"Thank you, Scout."

Dr. Finch got out of the car and shut the door. He poked his head inside the window, elevated his eyebrows, and said in a decorous voice:

"I was once an exceedingly odd young lady--

Suffering much from spleen and vapors."

Jean Louise was halfway to town when she remembered. She stepped on the brake, leaned out the window, and called to the spare figure in the distance:

"But we only cut respectable capers, don't we, Uncle Jack?"


SHE WALKED INTO the foyer of the office. She saw Henry still at his desk. She went to him.


"Hello," he said.

"Seven-thirty tonight?" she said.


As they made a date for their leave-taking, a tide was running, returning, and she ran to meet it. He was a part of her, as timeless as Finch's Landing, as the Coninghams and Old Sarum. Maycomb and Maycomb County had taught him things she had never known, could never learn, and Maycomb had rendered her useless to him as anything other than his oldest friend.

"That you, Jean Louise?"

Her father's voice frightened her.

"Yes sir."

Atticus walked from his office to the foyer and took down his hat and stick from the hat rack. "Ready?" he said.

Ready. You can say ready to me. What are you, that I tried to obliterate and grind into the earth, and you say ready? I can't beat you, I can't join you. Don't you know that?

She went to him. "Atticus," she said. "I'm--"

"You may be sorry, but I'm proud of you."

She looked up and saw her father beaming at her.


"I said I'm proud of you."

"I don't understand you. I don't understand men at all and I never will."

"Well, I certainly hoped a daughter of mine'd hold her ground for what she thinks is right--stand up to me first of all."

Jean Louise rubbed her nose. "I called you some pretty grim things," she said.

Atticus said, "I can take anything anybody calls me so long as it's not true. You don't even know how to cuss, Jean Louise. By the way, where did you pick up the ring-tailed variety?"

"Right here in Maycomb."

"Dear goodness, the things you learned."

Dear goodness, the things I learned. I did not want my world disturbed, but I wanted to crush the man who's trying to preserve it for me. I wanted to stamp out all the people like him. I guess it's like an airplane: they're the drag and we're the thrust, together we make the thing fly. Too much of us and we're nose-heavy, too much of them and we're tail-heavy--it's a matter of balance. I can't beat him, and I can't join him--



"I think I love you very much."

She saw her old enemy's shoulders relax, and she watched him push his hat to the back of his head. "Let's go home, Scout. It's been a long day. Open the door for me."

She stepped aside to let him pass. She followed him to the car and watched him get laboriously into the front seat. As she welcomed him silently to the human race, the stab of discovery made her tremble a little. Somebody walked over my grave, she thought, probably Jem on some idiotic errand.

She went around the car, and as she slipped under the steering wheel, this time she was careful not to bump her head.

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Epub ISBN 9781473535404

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Published by William Heinemann 2015

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Copyright (c) Harper Lee 2015

Harper Lee has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.

First published in Great Britain in 2015 by William Heinemann

(First published in the United States of America by HarperCollins in 2015)

This is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author's imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

HB ISBN 9781785150289

Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman
(Series: To Kill a Mockingbird # 2)
ISBN: - 9781473535404

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