Go Set a Watchman/5

"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!"

They made a three-point landing on the outskirts of Capetown, and she told Jem he hadn't given her anything to say for ten minutes and she wasn't going to play any more if he didn't.

"Okay. Scout, you say, 'Tom, there's no time to lose. Let's head for the jungle.'"

She said it.

They marched around the back yard, slashing at foliage, occasionally pausing to pick off a stray elephant or fight a tribe of cannibals. Jem led the way. Sometimes he shouted, "Get back!" and they fell flat on their bellies in the warm sand. Once he rescued Mr. Damon from Victoria Falls while she stood around and sulked because all she had to do was hold the rope that held Jem.

Presently Jem cried, "We're almost there, so come on!"

They rushed forward to the carhouse, a village of headhunters. Jem dropped to his knees and began behaving like a snake healer.

"What are you doing?" she said.

"Shh! Making a sacrifice."

"You look afflicted," said Dill. "What's a sacrifice?"

"You make it to keep the headhunters off you. Look, there they are!" Jem made a low humming noise, said something like "buja-buja-buja," and the carhouse came alive with savages.

Dill rolled his eyes up in their sockets in a nauseating way, stiffened, and fell to the ground.

"They've got Mr. Damon!" cried Jem.

They carried Dill, stiff as a light-pole, out into the sun. They gathered fig leaves and placed them in a row down Dill from his head to his feet.

"Think it'll work, Tom?" she said.

"Might. Can't tell yet. Mr. Damon? Mr. Damon, wake up!" Jem hit him on the head.

Dill rose up scattering fig leaves. "Now stop it, Jem Finch," he said, and resumed his spread-eagle position. "I'm not gonna stay here much longer. It's getting hot."

Jem made mysterious papal passes over Dill's head and said, "Look, Ned. He's coming to."

Dill's eyelids fluttered and opened. He got up and reeled around the yard muttering, "Where am I?"

"Right here, Dill," she said, in some alarm.

Jem scowled. "You know that's not right. You say, 'Mr. Damon, you're lost in the Belgian Congo where you have been put under a spell. I am Ned and this is Tom.'"

"Are we lost, too?" said Dill.

"We were all the time you were hexed but we're not any more," said Jem. "Professor Wiggins is staked out in a hut over yonder and we've got to get him--"

For all she knew, Professor Wiggins was still staked out. Calpurnia broke everybody's spell by sticking her head out the back door and screaming, "Yawl want any lemonade? It's ten-thirty. You all better come get some or you'll be boiled alive in that sun!"

Calpurnia had placed three tumblers and a big pitcher full of lemonade inside the door on the back porch, an arrangement to ensure their staying in the shade for at least five minutes. Lemonade in the middle of the morning was a daily occurrence in the summertime. They downed three glasses apiece and found the remainder of the morning lying emptily before them.

"Want to go out in Dobbs Pasture?" asked Dill.


"How about let's make a kite?" she said. "We can get some flour from Calpurnia ..."

"Can't fly a kite in the summertime," said Jem. "There's not a breath of air blowing."

The thermometer on the back porch stood at ninety-two, the carhouse shimmered faintly in the distance, and the giant twin chinaberry trees were deadly still.

"I know what," said Dill. "Let's have a revival."

The three looked at one another. There was merit in this.

Dog days in Maycomb meant at least one revival, and one was in progress that week. It was customary for the town's three churches--Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian--to unite and listen to one visiting minister, but occasionally when the churches could not agree on a preacher or his salary, each congregation held its own revival with an open invitation to all; sometimes, therefore, the populace was assured of three weeks' spiritual reawakening. Revival time was a time of war: war on sin, Coca-Cola, picture shows, hunting on Sunday; war on the increasing tendency of young women to paint themselves and smoke in public; war on drinking whiskey--in this connection at least fifty children per summer went to the altar and swore they would not drink, smoke, or curse until they were twenty-one; war on something so nebulous Jean Louise never could figure out what it was, except there was nothing to swear concerning it; and war among the town's ladies over who could set the best table for the evangelist. Maycomb's regular pastors ate free for a week also, and it was hinted in disrespectful quarters that the local clergy deliberately led their churches into holding separate services, thereby gaining two more weeks' honoraria. This, however, was a lie.

That week, for three nights, Jem, Dill, and she had sat in the children's section of the Baptist Church (the Baptists were hosts this time) and listened to the messages of the Reverend James Edward Moorehead, a renowned speaker from north Georgia. At least that is what they were told; they understood little of what he said except his observations on hell. Hell was and would always be as far as she was concerned, a lake of fire exactly the size of Maycomb, Alabama, surrounded by a brick wall two hundred feet high. Sinners were pitchforked over this wall by Satan, and they simmered throughout eternity in a sort of broth of liquid sulfur.

Reverend Moorehead was a tall sad man with a stoop and a tendency to give his sermons startling titles. (Would You Speak to Jesus If You Met Him on the Street? Reverend Moorehead doubted that you could even if you wanted to, because Jesus probably spoke Aramaic.) The second night he preached, his topic was The Wages of Sin. At that time the local movie house was featuring a film of the same title (persons under sixteen not admitted): Maycomb thought Reverend Moorehead was going to preach on the movie, and the whole town turned out to hear him. Reverend Moorehead did nothing of the kind. He split hairs for three-quarters of an hour on the grammatical accuracy of his text. (Which was correct--the wages of sin is death or the wages of sin are death? It made a difference, and Reverend Moorehead drew distinctions of such profundity that not even Atticus Finch could tell what he was driving at.)

Jem, Dill, and she would have been bored stiff had not Reverend Moorehead possessed a singular talent for fascinating children. He was a whistler. There was a gap between his two front teeth (Dill swore they were false, they were just made that way to look natural) which produced a disastrously satisfying sound when he said a word containing one s or more. Sin, Jesus, Christ, sorrow, salvation, success, were key words they listened for each night, and their attention was rewarded in two ways: in those days no minister could get through a sermon without using them all, and they were assured of muffled paroxysms of muffled delight at least seven times an evening; secondly, because they paid such strict attention to Reverend Moorehead, Jem, Dill, and she were thought to be the best-behaved children in the congregation.

The third night of the revival when the three went forward with several other children and accepted Christ as their personal Savior, they looked hard at the floor during the ceremony because Reverend Moorehead folded his hands over their heads and said among other things, "Blessed is he who sitteth not in the seat of the scornful." Dill was seized with a bad whooping spell, and Reverend Moorehead whispered to Jem, "Take the child out into the air. He is overcome."

Jem said, "I tell you what, we can have it over in your yard by the fishpool."

Dill said that would be fine. "Yeah, Jem. We can get some boxes for a pulpit."

A gravel driveway divided the Finch yard from Miss Rachel's. The fishpool was in Miss Rachel's side yard, and it was surrounded by azalea bushes, rose bushes, camellia bushes, and cape jessamine bushes. Some old fat goldfish lived in the pool with several frogs and water lizards, shaded by wide lily pads and ivy. A great fig tree spread its poisonous leaves over the surrounding area, making it the coolest in the neighborhood. Miss Rachel had put some yard furniture around the pool, and there was a sawbuck table under the fig tree.

They found two empty crates in Miss Rachel's smokehouse and set up an altar in front of the pool. Dill stationed himself behind it.

"I'm Mr. Moorehead," he said.

"I'm Mr. Moorehead," said Jem. "I'm the oldest."

"Oh all right," said Dill.

"You and Scout can be the congregation."

"We won't have anything to do," she said, "and I swannee if I'll sit here for an hour and listen to you, Jem Finch."

"You and Dill can take up collection," said Jem. "You can be the choir, too."

The congregation drew up two yard chairs and sat facing the altar.

Jem said, "Now you all sing something."

She and Dill sang:

"Amazing grace how sweet thuh sound

That saved a wretch like me;

I once was lost but now I'm found,

Was blind, but now I see. A-men."

Jem wrapped his arms around the pulpit, leaned over, and said in confidential tones, "My, it looks good to see you all this morning. This is a beautiful morning."

Dill said, "A-men."

"Does anybody this morning feel like opening up wide and singin' his heart out?" asked Jem.

"Yes-s sir," said Dill. Dill, whose square construction and lack of height doomed him forever to play the character man, rose, and before their eyes became a one-man choir:

"When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,

And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;

When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,

And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there."

The minister and the congregation joined in the chorus. While they were singing, she heard Calpurnia calling in the dim distance. She batted the gnatlike sound away from her ear.

Dill, red in the face from his exertions, sat down and filled the Amen Corner.

Jem clipped invisible pince-nez to his nose, cleared his throat, and said, "The text for the day, my brethren, is from the Psalms: 'Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, O ye gates.'"

Jem detached his pince-nez, and while wiping them repeated in a deep voice, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord."

Dill said, "It's time to take up collection," and hit her for the two nickels she had in her pocket.

"You give 'em back after church, Dill," she said.

"You all hush," said Jem. "It's time for the sermon."

Jem preached the longest, most tedious sermon she ever heard in her life. He said that sin was about the most sinful thing he could think of, and no one who sinned could be a success, and blessed was he who sat in the seat of the scornful; in short, he repeated his own version of everything they had heard for the past three nights. His voice sank to its lowest register; it would rise to a squeak and he would clutch at the air as though the ground were opening beneath his feet. He once asked, "Where is the Devil?" and pointed straight at the congregation. "Right here in Maycomb, Alabama."

He started on hell, but she said, "Now cut it out, Jem." Reverend Moorehead's description of it was enough to last her a lifetime. Jem reversed his field and tackled heaven: heaven was full of bananas (Dill's love) and scalloped potatoes (her favorite), and when they died they would go there and eat good things until Judgement Day, but on Judgement Day, God, having written down everything they did in a book from the day they were born, would cast them into hell.

Jem drew the service to a close by asking all who wished to be united with Christ to step forward. She went.

Jem put his hand on her head and said, "Young lady, do you repent?"

"Yes sir," she said.

"Have you been baptized?"

"No sir," she said.

"Well--" Jem dipped his hand into the black water of the fishpool and laid it on her head. "I baptize you--"

"Hey, wait a minute!" shouted Dill. "That's not right!"

"I reckon it is," said Jem. "Scout and me are Methodists."

"Yeah, but we're having a Baptist revival. You've got to duck her. I think I'll be baptized, too." The ramifications of the ceremony were dawning on Dill, and he fought hard for the role. "I'm the one," he insisted. "I'm the Baptist so I reckon I'm the one to be baptized."

"Now listen here, Dill Pickle Harris," she said menacingly. "I haven't done a blessed thing this whole morning. You've been the Amen Corner, you sang a solo, and you took up collection. It's my time, now."

Her fists were clenched, her left arm cocked, and her toes gripped the ground.

Dill backed away. "Now cut it out, Scout."

"She's right, Dill," Jem said. "You can be my assistant."

Jem looked at her. "Scout, you better take your clothes off. They'll get wet."

She divested herself of her overalls, her only garment. "Don't you hold me under," she said, "and don't forget to hold my nose."

She stood on the cement edge of the pool. An ancient goldfish surfaced and looked balefully at her, then disappeared beneath the dark water.

"How deep's this thing?" she asked.

"Only about two feet," said Jem, and turned to Dill for confirmation. But Dill had left them. They saw him going like a streak toward Miss Rachel's house.

"Reckon he's mad?" she asked.

"I don't know. Let's wait and see if he comes back."

Jem said they had better shoo the fish down to one side of the pool lest they hurt one, and they were leaning over the side rustling the water when an ominous voice behind them said, "Whoo--"

"Whoo--" said Dill from beneath a double-bed sheet, in which he had cut eyeholes. He raised his arms above his head and lunged at her. "Are you ready?" he said. "Hurry up, Jem. I'm getting hot."

"For crying out loud," said Jem. "What are you up to?"

"I'm the Holy Ghost," said Dill modestly.

Jem took her by the hand and guided her into the pool. The water was warm and slimy, and the bottom was slippery. "Don't you duck me but once," she said.

Jem stood on the edge of the pool. The figure beneath the sheet joined him and flapped its arms wildly. Jem held her back and pushed her under. As her head went beneath the surface she heard Jem intoning, "Jean Louise Finch, I baptize you in the name of--"


Miss Rachel's switch made perfect contact with the sacred apparition's behind. Since he would not go backward into the hail of blows Dill stepped forward at a brisk pace and joined her in the pool. Miss Rachel flailed relentlessly at a heaving tangle of lily pads, bed sheet, legs and arms, and twining ivy.

"Get out of there!" Miss Rachel screamed. "I'll Holy Ghost you, Charles Baker Harris! Rip the sheets off my best bed, will you? Cut holes in 'em, will you? Take the Lord's name in vain, will you? Come on, get out of there!"

"Cut it out, Aunt Rachel!" burbled Dill, his head half under water. "Gimme a chance!"

Dill's efforts to disentangle himself with dignity were only moderately successful: he rose from the pool like a small fantastical water monster, covered with green slime and dripping sheet. A tendril of ivy curled around his head and neck. He shook his head violently to free himself, and Miss Rachel stepped back to avoid the spray of water.

Jean Louise followed him out. Her nose tingled horribly from the water in it, and when she sniffed it hurt.

Miss Rachel would not touch Dill, but waved him on with her switch, saying, "March!"

She and Jem watched the two until they disappeared inside Miss Rachel's house. She could not help feeling sorry for Dill.

"Let's go home," Jem said. "It must be dinnertime."

They turned in the direction of their house and looked straight into the eyes of their father. He was standing in the driveway.

Beside him stood a lady they did not know and Reverend James Edward Moorehead. They looked like they had been standing there for some time.

Atticus came toward them, taking his coat off. Her throat closed tight and her knees shook. When he dropped his coat over her shoulders she realized she was standing stark naked in the presence of a preacher. She tried to run, but Atticus caught her by the scruff of the neck and said, "Go to Calpurnia. Go in the back door."

Calpurnia scrubbed her viciously in the bathtub, muttering, "Mr. Finch called this morning and said he was bringing the preacher and his wife home for dinner. I yelled till I was blue in the face for you all. Why'nt you answer me?"

"Didn't hear you," she lied.

"Well, it was either get that cake in the oven or round you up. I couldn't do both. Ought to be ashamed of yourselves, mortifyin' your daddy like that!"

She thought Calpurnia's bony finger would go through her ear. "Stop it," she said.

"If he dudn't whale the tar out of both of you, I will," Calpurnia promised. "Now get out of that tub."

Calpurnia nearly took the skin off her with the rough towel, and commanded her to raise her hands above her head. Calpurnia thrust her into a stiffly starched pink dress, held her chin firmly between thumb and forefinger, and raked her hair with a sharp-toothed comb. Calpurnia threw down a pair of patent leather shoes at her feet.

"Put 'em on."

"I can't button 'em," she said. Calpurnia banged down the toilet seat and sat her on it. She watched big scarecrow fingers perform the intricate business of pushing pearl buttons through holes too small for them, and she marveled at the power in Calpurnia's hands.

"Now go to your daddy."

"Where's Jem?" she said.

"He's cleaning up in Mr. Finch's bathroom. I can trust him."

In the livingroom, she and Jem sat quietly on the sofa