“Come on round here, son, I got something that’ll settle your stomach.”
As Mr. Dolphus Raymond was an evil man I accepted his invitation reluctantly, but Ifollowed Dill. Somehow, I didn’t think Atticus would like it if we became friendly with Mr.
Raymond, and I knew Aunt Alexandra wouldn’t.
“Here,” he said, offering Dill his paper sack with straws in it. “Take a good sip, it’llquieten you.”
Dill sucked on the straws, smiled, and pulled at length.
“Hee hee,” said Mr. Raymond, evidently taking delight in corrupting a child.
“Dill, you watch out, now,” I warned.
Dill released the straws and grinned. “Scout, it’s nothing but Coca-Cola.”
Mr. Raymond sat up against the tree-trunk. He had been lying on the grass. “You littlefolks won’t tell on me now, will you? It’d ruin my reputation if you did.”
“You mean all you drink in that sack’s Coca-Cola? Just plain Coca-Cola?”
“Yes ma’am,” Mr. Raymond nodded. I liked his smell: it was of leather, horses,cottonseed. He wore the only English riding boots I had ever seen. “That’s all I drink,most of the time.”
“Then you just pretend you’re half—? I beg your pardon, sir,” I caught myself. “I didn’tmean to be—”
Mr. Raymond chuckled, not at all offended, and I tried to frame a discreet question:
“Why do you do like you do?”
“Wh—oh yes, you mean why do I pretend? Well, it’s very simple,” he said. “Some folksdon’t—like the way I live. Now I could say the hell with ‘em, I don’t care if they don’t likeit. I do say I don’t care if they don’t like it, right enough—but I don’t say the hell with ’em,see?”
Dill and I said, “No sir.”
“I try to give ‘em a reason, you see. It helps folks if they can latch onto a reason. WhenI come to town, which is seldom, if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks cansay Dolphus Raymond’s in the clutches of whiskey—that’s why he won’t change hisways. He can’t help himself, that’s why he lives the way he does.”
“That ain’t honest, Mr. Raymond, making yourself out badder’n you are already—”
“It ain’t honest but it’s mighty helpful to folks. Secretly, Miss Finch, I’m not much of adrinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do becausethat’s the way I want to live.”
I had a feeling that I shouldn’t be here listening to this sinful man who had mixedchildren and didn’t care who knew it, but he was fascinating. I had never encountered abeing who deliberately perpetrated fraud against himself. But why had he entrusted uswith his deepest secret? I asked him why.
“Because you’re children and you can understand it,” he said, “and because I heardthat one—”
He jerked his head at Dill: “Things haven’t caught up with that one’s instinct yet. Lethim get a little older and he won’t get sick and cry. Maybe things’ll strike him as being—not quite right, say, but he won’t cry, not when he gets a few years on him.”
“Cry about what, Mr. Raymond?” Dill’s maleness was beginning to assert itself.
“Cry about the simple hell people give other people—without even thinking. Cry aboutthe hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they’repeople, too.”
“Atticus says cheatin‘ a colored man is ten times worse than cheatin’ a white man,” Imuttered. “Says it’s the worst thing you can do.”
Mr. Raymond said, “I don’t reckon it’s—Miss Jean Louise, you don’t know your pa’snot a run-of-the-mill man, it’ll take a few years for that to sink in—you haven’t seenenough of the world yet. You haven’t even seen this town, but all you gotta do is stepback inside the courthouse.”
Which reminded me that we were missing nearly all of Mr. Gilmer’s cross-examination.
I looked at the sun, and it was dropping fast behind the store-tops on the west side ofthe square. Between two fires, I could not decide which I wanted to jump into: Mr.
Raymond or the 5th Judicial Circuit Court. “C’mon, Dill,” I said. “You all right, now?”
“Yeah. Glad t’ve metcha, Mr. Raymond, and thanks for the drink, it was mightysettlin‘.”
We raced back to the courthouse, up the steps, up two flights of stairs, and edged ourway along the balcony rail. Reverend Sykes had saved our seats.
The courtroom was still, and again I wondered where the babies were. Judge Taylor’scigar was a brown speck in the center of his mouth; Mr. Gilmer was writing on one of theyellow pads on his table, trying to outdo the court reporter, whose hand was jerkingrapidly. “Shoot,” I muttered, “we missed it.”
Atticus was halfway through his speech to the jury. He had evidently pulled somepapers from his briefcase that rested beside his chair, because they were on his table.
Tom Robinson was toying with them.
“…absence of any corroborative evidence, this man was indicted on a capital chargeand is now on trial for his life…”
I punched Jem. “How long’s he been at it?”
“He’s just gone over the evidence,” Jem whispered, “and we’re gonna win, Scout. Idon’t see how we can’t. He’s been at it ‘bout five minutes. He made it as plain and easyas—well, as I’da explained it to you. You could’ve understood it, even.”
“Did Mr. Gilmer—?”
“Sh-h. Nothing new, just the usual. Hush now.”
We looked down again. Atticus was speaking easily, with the kind of detachment heused when he dictated a letter. He walked slowly up and down in front of the jury, andthe jury seemed to be attentive: their heads were up, and they followed Atticus’s routewith what seemed to be appreciation. I guess it was because Atticus wasn’t a thunderer.
Atticus paused, then he did something he didn’t ordinarily do. He unhitched his watchand chain and placed them on the table, saying, “With the court’s permission—”
Judge Taylor nodded, and then Atticus did something I never saw him do before orsince, in public or in private: he unbuttoned his vest, unbuttoned his collar, loosened histie, and took off his coat. He never loosened a scrap of his clothing until he undressed atbedtime, and to Jem and me, this was the equivalent of him standing before us starknaked. We exchanged horrified glances.
Atticus put his hands in his pockets, and as he returned to the jury, I saw his goldcollar button and the tips of his pen and pencil winking in the light.
“Gentlemen,” he said. Jem and I again looked at each other: Atticus might have said,“Scout.” His voice had lost its aridity, its detachment, and he was talking to the jury as ifthey were folks on the post office corner.
“Gentlemen,” he was saying, “I shall be brief, but I would like to use my remaining timewith you to remind you that this case is not a difficult one, it requires no minute sifting ofcomplicated facts, but it does require you to be sure beyond all reasonable doubt as tothe guilt of the defendant. To begin with, this case should never have come to trial. Thiscase is as simple as black and white.
“The state has not produced one iota of medical evidence to the effect that the crimeTom Robinson is charged with ever took place. It has relied instead upon the testimonyof two witnesses whose evidence has not only been called into serious question oncross-examination, but has been flatly contradicted by the defendant. The defendant isnot guilty, but somebody in this courtroom is.
“I have nothing but pity in my heart for the chief witness for the state, but my pity doesnot extend so far as to her putting a man’s life at stake, which she has done in an effortto get rid of her own guilt.
“I say guilt, gentlemen, because it was guilt that motivated her. She has committed nocrime, she has merely broken a rigid and time-honored code of our society, a code sosevere that whoever breaks it is hounded from our midst as unfit to live with. She is thevictim of cruel poverty and ignorance, but I cannot pity her: she is white. She knew fullwell the enormity of her offense, but because her desires were stronger than the codeshe was breaking, she persisted in breaking it. She persisted, and her subsequentreaction is something that all of us have known at one time or another. She didsomething every child has done—she tried to put the evidence of her offense away fromher. But in this case she was no child hiding stolen contraband: she struck out at hervictim—of necessity she must put him away from her—he must be removed from herpresence, from this world. She must destroy the evidence of her offense.
“What was the evidence of her offense? Tom Robinson, a human being. She must putTom Robinson away from her. Tom Robinson was her daily reminder of what she did.
What did she do? She tempted a Negro.
“She was white, and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society isunspeakable: she kissed a black man. Not an old Uncle, but a strong young Negro man.
No code mattered to her before she broke it, but it came crashing down on herafterwards.
“Her father saw it, and the defendant has testified as to his remarks. What did herfather do? We don’t know, but there is circumstantial evidence to indicate that MayellaEwell was beaten savagely by someone who led almost exclusively with his left. We doknow in part what Mr. Ewell did: he did what any God-fearing, persevering, respectablewhite man would do under the circumstances—he swore out a warrant, no doubt signingit with his left hand, and Tom Robinson now sits before you, having taken the oath withthe only good hand he possesses—his right hand.
“And so a quiet, respectable, humble Negro who had the unmitigated temerity to ‘feelsorry’ for a white woman has had to put his word against two white people’s. I need notremind you of their appearance and conduct on the stand—you saw them foryourselves. The witnesses for the state, with the exception of the sheriff of MaycombCounty, have presented themselves to you gentlemen, to this court, in the cynicalconfidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemenwould go along with them on the assumption—the evil assumption—that all Negroes lie,that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trustedaround our women, an assumption one associates with minds of their caliber.
“Which, gentlemen, we know is in itself a lie as black as Tom Robinson’s skin, a lie Ido not have to point out to you. You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroeslie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women—black or white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular raceof men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has neverdone an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a womanwithout desire.”
Atticus paused and took out his handkerchief. Then he took off his glasses and wipedthem, and we saw another “first”: we had never seen him sweat—he was one of thosemen whose faces never perspired, but now it was shining tan.
“One more thing, gentlemen, before I quit. Thomas Jefferson once said that all menare created equal, a phrase that the Yankees and the distaff side of the Executivebranch in Washington are fond of hurling at us. There is a tendency in this year of grace,1935, for certain people to use this phrase out of context, to satisfy all conditions. Themost ridiculous example I can think of is that the people who run public educationpromote the stupid and idle along with the industrious—because all men are createdequal, educators will gravely tell you, the children left behind suffer terrible feelings ofinferiority. We know all men are not created equal in the sense some people would haveus believe—some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunitybecause they’re born with it, some men make more money than others, some ladiesmake better cakes than others—some people are born gifted beyond the normal scopeof most men.
“But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal—there is onehuman institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man theequal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. Thatinstitution, gentlemen, is a court. It can be the Supreme Court of the United States or thehumblest J.P. court in the land, or this honorable court which you serve. Our courts havetheir faults, as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the greatlevelers, and in our courts all men are created equal.
“I’m no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and in the jury system—that is no ideal to me, it is a living, working reality. Gentlemen, a court is no better thaneach man of you sitting before me on this jury. A court is only as sound as its jury, and ajury is only as sound as the men who make it up. I am confident that you gentlemen willreview without passion the evidence you have heard, come to a decision, and restorethis defendant to his family. In the name of God, do your duty.”
Atticus’s voice had dropped, and as he turned away from the jury he said something Idid not catch. He said it more to himself than to the court. I punched Jem. “What’d hesay?”
“‘In the name of God, believe him,’ I think that’s what he said.”
Dill suddenly reached over me and tugged at Jem. “Looka yonder!”
We followed his finger with sinking hearts. Calpurnia was making her way up themiddle aisle, walking straight toward Atticus.