Chapter 29

 

            Aunt Alexandra stood right up and gasped.

            “Are you sure?”  Atticus said weakly.

            “He won’t hurt these children again,” Mr. Tate said.

            He turned to me.  “Scout, can you tell us what happened out there?  Did you see him following you?”

            “We started home.  It was dark.  Jem said, ‘Hush a minute.’  We thought it was Cecil Jacobs; he scared us once tonight.  I could hear the footsteps too, then.  They walked when we walked and stopped when we stopped.  When we got under the tree, all of a sudden something’ grabbed me an’ mashed my costume.  I heard them tusslin’.  Jem grabbed me and pulled me toward the road.  Some – Mr. Ewell yanked him down.  There there was a noise – Jem hollered.  Mr. Ewell was trying to squeeze me to death, I reckon… then somebody yanked Mr. Ewell down.  Jem must have got up.  Somebody was staggerin’ around and coughin’.  I thought it was Jem but it was him.”  I half pointed to the man in the corner.

            His arms were folded across his chest.  He had sickly white hands that had never seen the sun.  He face was white too; his cheeks were thin.  His gray eyes were so colorless I thought he was blind.  I gazed at him in wonder and his lips parted into a timid smile.  Our neighbor’s image blurred with my sudden tears.

            “Hey, Boo,” I said.