Chapter 22

 

            When we left the courthouse, Jem started to cry.  His face was streaked with angry tears as we made our way through the cheerful crowd.  “It ain’t right,” he muttered, all the way to the corner of the square where we found Atticus waiting for us.  Atticus was standing under the street light looking as though nothing had happened:  his vest was buttoned, his collar and tie were neatly in place, his watch-chain glistened, he was his impassive self again. 

            “It ain’t right, Atticus,” said Jem.

            “No, son, it’s not right.”

            “How could they do it, how could they convict Tom if he didn’t do it?”

            “I don’t know, son, but they did it.  They’ve done it before and they did it tonight and they’ll do it again and when they do it – seems that only children weep.”

            The next morning, Calpurnia showed Atticus that the black community had brought all sorts of food for the Finch family.  The kitchen table was loaded with enough food to bury the family:  hunks of salt pork, tomatoes, beans, even scuppernongs.  Atticus grinned when he found a jar of pickled pigs’ knuckles.  Calpurnia said, “This was all ‘round the back steps when I got here this morning.  They – they ‘preciate what you did, Mr. Finch.  They – they aren’t oversteppin’ themselves, are they?”

            Atticus’s eyes filled with tears. He did not speak for a moment.  “Tell them I’m very grateful,” he said.  “Tell them – tell them they must never do this again.  Times are too hard..”

            Later that day Jem, Dill and I went over to talk to Miss Maudie about everything.  She said, “You’d be surprised how many people care about Tom.  Judge Taylor cares, for example.  Did it ever strike you that Judge Taylor naming Atticus to defend that boy was no accident?  That Judge Taylor might have had his reasons for naming him?”

            Miss Maudie had a good point.  Usually Maxwell Green is the lawyer to do these kinds of trials.  But he’s not very good.  So Judge Taylor must have appointed Atticus because he wanted Tom to have a good defense and a fair trial.

            When we got home, Aunt Alexandra came to the door and called us, but she was too late.  It was Miss Stephanie’s pleasure to tell us:  this morning, Mr. Bob Ewell stopped Atticus on the post office corner, spat in his face, and told him he’d get him if it took the rest of this life.