‘Scout’ Finch A young girl; her hair is plain and she wears dungarees.
Jean Louise Finch ‘Scout’ grown older; she wears simple modern clothes.
Jem Finch Scout’s brother; an active boy, a few years older than her.
Atticus Finch Their father; he is a tall, quietly impressive, ‘civilised’ man of nearly fifty. He wears glasses because of poor sight in his left eye and looks with his right when he wants to see something well. He acts as defence council for Tom Robinson.
Calpurnia The black housekeeper who has helped to bring up Scout and Jem since their mother died.
Dill Friends of Scout and Jem. He is a little older than Scout and is small blond and wise. He is neat, well-dressed with an undercurrent of sophistication, but his laugh is sudden and happy.
MISS MAUDIE ATKINSON A sympathetic neighbour[d1] .
MISS STEPHANIE CRAWFORD The neighbourhood scold.
MRS DUBOSE An elderly and bad-tempered neighbour; she supports herself with a stick.
MR CUNNINGHAM A farmer and client of Atticus Finch.
MAYELLA EWELL A poor girl of nineteen, accustomed to strenuous labour, who accuses Tom Robinson of attacking her.
BOB EWELL Her father; a little ‘bantam cock’ of a man. He is ignorant and sharp-tempered.
MR GILMER The council for the prosecution in the trail of Tom Robinson.
NATHAN RADLEY A pale, then, leathery man; ‘Boo’ Radley’s older brother and guardian.
ARTHUR ‘BOO’ RADLEY A mysterious, tall figure; pale, nervous and withdrawn.
TOM ROBINSON A powerful, young black man, but with his left hand curled up and held to his chest.
HELEN ROBINSON His wife.
REVEREND SYKES A black minister, conservatively dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black tie.
HECK TATE The sheriff
Judge taylor The judge who tries the case of Tom Robinson.
The mob A group of men dressed in farm clothes.
To kill a mockingbird
(The houselights dim and in the darkness there are the soft sounds of birds, and in the distance, a dog barking.
The stage light comes up, revealing a girl who is now sitting in the porch swing, thoughtfully swinging back and forth. Her hair is plain and she wears dungarees.
A woman, dressed in simple modern clothes, comes on stage. If possible, there should be something about her that suggests the girl-in-the-swing, grown older, for this is who she is. The woman, Jean Louise Finch, was called ‘Scout’ when she was young, and so the young girl in the swing will be called SCOUT, while the same person, grown older, is called JEAN.
JEAN is looking about as though seeing this place in a memory. As she comes up the tree, she reaches up and touches a place on the trunk. She is smiling as she speaks, softly to herself.)
JEAN The cement would still be there covering the knothole.
(A voice is heard calling from offstage. It is the voice of CALPURNIA.)
CALPURNIA (calling) Scout – where are you? Scout, you come here.
JEAN My name is Jean Lousie, but when I was that young girl there on the swing … they called me ‘Scout’.
Calpurnia You hear me, Scout?
Scout (still swinging: preoccupied) I’m watching for Atticus.
Jean Atticus – that’s my father. Back then he seemed ancient … feeble. He was a lawyer and nearly fifty. When my brother Jem asked him why he was so old, he said he got started late – which we thought reflected on his manliness. He was much older than the parents of our school contemporaries and there was nothing Jem or I could say about him.
SCOUT (speaking forward) Because he doesn’t do anything. Atticus doesn’t drive a dump truck for the county, he isn’t a sheriff, he doesn’t farm, or work in a garage, or anything worth mentioning. Other fathers go hunting, play poker, or fish. Atticus works in an office, and he reads.
JEAN With those attributes, however, Atticus did not remain as inconspicuous as Jam and I might have wished. (With feeling)No, he did not!
BOY’S VOICE (calling from off stage) Hey Scout – how come your daddy defends niggers? (singsong) Scout’s daddy defends nig … gers!
(SCOUT has risen and come to the porch railing, her fists clenched.)
Scout You gonna take that back, boy?
Boy’s voice You gonna make me? My folks say your daddy’s a disgrace and that nigger oughta hang from the water tank.
Scout You take that back!
Boy’s voice (going away) Make me! Try and make me!
Calpurnia (voice offstage) Scout. I’ve told you to come in.
Scout I’m not ready to come in. (going back to the swing) I have to talk to Atticus.
Jean It was Maycomb, Alabama and it was back in 1935 when I was that girl – back when ugly words were first shouted at us – back at the beginning of an experience that brought a man to death. (Looking towards the house) And it brought Boo Radley storming out of the shut-up house – the attack on me – Jem’s arm broken – another man killed! (Turning back towards the front of the stage.) But that isn’t what I want to remember. That’s not why my mind’s come back here. (Trying to sort this out) There’s something I have to do – something my father wanted. Probably enough years have gone by – enough so I can look back – perhaps even enough so now I can do the one thing my father asked. (correcting herself with a smile; almost as an afterthought) No – there was one other thing. When he gave us air rifles, he asked us never to kill a mockingbird.
(Miss MAUDIE ATKINSON has come out onto her porch.)
MS MAUDIE (to JEAN LOUISE) Your father’s right. Mockingbirds just make music. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t eat nest in corncribs; they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.
SCOUT (crossing to the porch rail) Miss Maudie – this is an old neighbourhood, ain’t it?
MS MAUDIE (turning towards SCOUT) Been here longer that the town.
SCOUT No, I mean the folks on our street are all old. Jem and me’s the only children. Mrs Dubose is close on a hundred and Miss Crawford’s old and so are you and Atticus.
MS MAUDIE (tartly) Not being wheeled around yet. Neither’s your father. You’re lucky. You and Jem have the benefir of your father’s age. If your father was thirty, you’d find life quite different.
SCOUT (emphatically) I sure would. Atticus can’t do anything.
MS MAUDIE You’d be surprised. There’s life in him yet.
SCOUT What can he do?
MS MAUDIE Quite a lot. (As she goes) Seems to me you’d be proud of him.
SCOUT (calling after her; concerned) Why? The was some folks are starting to go on, you’d think he was running a still.
(Realising Miss Maudie is gone, SCOUT returns tot he swing.)
SCOUT I have to speak to him.
JEAN We lived over there – Atticus, my brother Jem, and Calpurnia, our cook, who raised us. Calpurina was all angles and bones.
(CALPURNIA has come out onto the porch.)
CALPURNIA You come in and wash up before your father gets home.
SCOUT (rising, but under protest) I said I wasn’t ready.
CALPURNIA Your brother’s already washed. Why don’t you behave as well as Jem?
SCOUT Because he’s older than me and you know it.
CALPURNIA (giving her a smack to encourage her along) Get in there.
(They both go into the house.)
JEAN Calpurnia’s hand was as hard as a bed slat. My mother died when I was two, so I never felt her absence. (Smiling wryly) But I felt Calpurnia’s tyrannical presents as long as I could remember.
SCOUT (voice, from inside the house) The water’s too hot.
CALPURNIA (voice, also from inside the house; unimpressed)Keep scrubbin’!
JEAN (considering the neighbourhood) Even in 1935, MAycomb, Alabama was already a tired old town.
(HECK TATE and JUDGE TAYLOR enter.)
JEAN (continuing) In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. (Noticing them) That’s Heck Tate – the sheriff, and Judge Taylor.
HECK (calling) Atticus – you home?
(CALPURNIA comes out onto the porch.)
CALPURNIA Not yet, Mr. Tate. Afternoon, Judge Taylor.
HECK Cal – tell him we were passing by.
(They nod and start to go.)
CALPURNIA You want him to call?
JUDGE (as they go; pleasantly) We’ll be seeing him anyway.
(CALPRRNIA re-enters the house, and MISS STEPHANIE CRAWFORD comes on.)
JEAN People moved slowly then – and somehow it was hotter. A day was twenty-four hours long, but seemed longer. There was no hurry for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with.
(MISS STEPHANE has paused to consider the house with disapproval.)
JEAN People moved slowly then – and somehow it was hotter. A day was twenty-four hours long, but seemed longer. There was no hurry for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with.
(MISS STEPHANIE has paused to consider the house with disapproval.)
MS STEPH Lack of money is no excuse to let a place go like that. At the least they could cut the Johnson grass and rabbit-tobacco. (She turns towards JEAN) But of course, they’re Radleys.
JEAN (identifying her) Miss Stephanie Crawford – a neighbourhood scold. According to her, everybody in Maycomb has streak: a drinking streak, a gambling streak, a mean streak, a funny streak.
MS STEPH (emphatically) No Atkinson minds his own business; every third Merriweather is morbid; the truth is not the Delafields; all the Burfords walk like that; if Mrs Grace sips gin out of Lydia E. Pinkham bottles, it is nothing unusual – her mother did the same.
JEAN She was also your principle source of information about Boo Radley.
MS STEPH (coming closer; speaking confidentially and with relish) When that boy was in his teen, he took up with some bad ones from Old Sarum. They were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, assault and battery, and using abusive and profane language in the presence and hearing of a female. Boo Radley was released to his father, who shut him up in that house, and he wasn’t seen again for fifteen years.
JEAN I’d have to ask – as she intended. (To her) Miss Stephanie, what happened fifteen years later?
MS STEPH (delighted to continue) Boo Radley was sitting in the living room cutting some items from The Maycomb Tribune to paste in his scapbook. As his father passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parent’s leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants and resumed his activities. Boo was then thirty-three. Mr Radley said no Radley was going to any insane asylum. So he was kept home, where he is till this day.
JEAN How do you know? How can you be sure he’s still there?
MS STEPH (as she goes into her house; emphatically) Because I haven’t seen him carried out yet.
(MISS STEPHANIE exits.)
JEAN (regarding the Radley house) JEm and I had never seen him. That didn’t come till later, and when it did, we were in no condition to take much notice, being in gear for our lives!
(JEAN turns back toward the audience.)
JEAN People said Boo Radley went out at night when the moon was down. When azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he breathed on them. The tall Radley pecan trees shook their fruit into the adjoining schoolyard in the back, but the nuts lay untouched. Radley pecans would kill you. A baseball hit into the Radley yard was a lost ball and no questions asked.
(During this, MRS DUBOSE has come out onto her porch. She is old and bad-tempered. Supporting herself [partially] with a cane, she crosses to her porch chair which is draped in shawls. JEM, an active boy a few years older than SCOUT, comes out onto the porch, holding a football.)
JEAN My brother Jem – before the fight when his arm got broken.
(JEM tucks the football under his arm, plunges off the porch, and starts dodging imaginary tacklers. JEAN smilies.)
JEAN Alabama must be playing in the Rose Bowl with Jem scoring the winning touchdown.
MS DUBOSE (sharply) Where are you going this time of day, Jeremy Rinch? Playing hooky, I suppose. I’ll just call up the principal and tell him.
JEM Aw, it’s Saturday, Mrs Dubose.
MS DUBOSE I wonder if your father knows where you are?
JEM ‘Course he does.
MS DUBOSE Maudie Atkinson told me you broke down her scuppernong arbour this morning. He’s going to tell your father and then you’ll wish you’d never seen the light of day!
JEM (indignant) I haven’t been near her scuppernong arbour!
MS DUBOSE Don’t you contradict me!
(JEM clutches the football as though plunging through centre and, with MRS DUBOSE calling after him, bulls his way off.)
MS DUBOSE If you aren’t sent to the reform school before next week, my name’s not Dubose!
(MRS DUBOSE goes back into the house.)
JEAN Mrs Henry Lafayette Dubose. If she was on the porch when Jem or I passes, we’d be raked by her wrathful gaze, subjected to ruthless interrogation regarding out behaviour, and given a melancholy prediction on what we’d amount to when we grew up, which was always nothing. Jem and I hated her. We has no idea that she was fighting a hard battle.
(REVEREND SYKES, a Negro minister, dressed conservatively in a black suit, black tie and white shirt, has come on stage.)
REV SYKES (calling) Miss Cal –
(CALPURNIA is coming out onto the porch, followed by SCOUT.)
JEAN Reverend Sykes of the First Purchase Church – called First Purchase because it was paid for from the first earnings of the freed slaves.
CALPURNIA Afternoon, Reverend.
REV SYKES (speaking quietly) It’s about your Brother Tom Robinson’s trouble. We have to do more for his wife and children.
CALPURNIA (agreeing) Yes, Reverend.
REV SYKES The collection for the next three Sundays will go to Helen. Please encourage everyone to bring what they can.
SCOUT (curiously) Why are you all taking up a collection for Tom Robinson’s wife?
REV SYKES To tell you the truth, Miss Jean Louise , Helen’s finding it hard to get work these days.
SCOUT I know Tom Robinson’s done somethin’ awful, but why won’t folks hire Helen?
REV SYKES Folks aren’t anxious to –
(REVEREND SYKES hesitates as he sees someone entering.)
REV SYKES (dropping his voice) – to have anything to do with his family.
(MAYELLE EWELL, a poor girl accustomed to strenuous labour, has entered followed by her father, BOB EWELL, a little ‘bantam cock’ of a man, ignorant and sharp-tempered.)
MAYELLA (as they cross the stage) Yes, Pa.
BOB EWELL I told ya – stay outa town right now, hear?
MAYELLA (resigned) I hear.
(The continue off.)
JEAN (quietly) Bob Ewell – his daughter, Mayella. No truant officer could keep any of the Ewells in school. No public health officer could free them from filth and disease. Good times or bad, they lived off the country – in a cabin by the garbage dump near a small Negro settlement. (She smiles wryly.) And all Bob Ewell could hold onto that made him feel better than his nearest neighbours was that if scrubbed with lye soap in very hot water – his skin was white.
SCOUT (puzzled) Why’d you stop talking? Those are just Ewells.
JEAN Remembering it now, I’m not surprised that stopped talking.
REV SYKES I have a lot of calls to make. Good-bye, Miss Jean Louise. See you Sunday, Miss Cal.
CALPURNIA (nodding) Reverend.
SCOUT (after him) ‘Bye.
(REVEREND SYKES exits.)
SCOUT (curious) Cal – what did Tom Robinson do?
CALPURNIA You mean, what do they say he did? Old Mr Bob Ewell accused Tom of attackin’ his girl ad had him put in jail.
SCOUT (scornfully) But everyone in Maycomb knows the Ewells. You’d think folks would be glad to hire Tom’s wife.
CALPURNIA (briefly) That’s what you think.
SCOUT (not satisfied) What does it mean – he attacked her?
CALPURNIA You’ll have to ask Mr Finch about that. You hungry?
SCOUT (lighting up as she sees someone coming) I have to see Atticus. There’s Dill!
(CALPURNIA re-enters house.)
JEAN That was the summer Dill came to us – Dill, who was to give us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.
(DILL is coming on stage. Heis a little older that SCOUT, small blond and wise. He is neat, well-dressed with an undercurrent of sophistication, but his laugh is sudden and happy.)
DILL (looking up at SCOUT) Hey.
SCOUT Hey, Dill.
(She comes down from the porch and crosses toward him.)
JEAN His real name was Charles Baker Harris, and he’d be sent here to spend the summer with an aunt. We came to know Dill as a pocket Merlin whose head teemed with eccentric plans, strange longings and quaint fancies. He was to be my childhood fiancé – which was nice for a girl, even if he wasn’t very big. ‘I’m little,’ he said one time, ‘but I’m old,’
DILL You watchin’ for your father?
SCOUT That’s right. (Struck with sudden curiosity) What about your daddy?
DILL (cautiously) What do you mean?
(JEM, still carrying the football, is coming back on stage.)
SCOUT You never say anything about him.
DILL Because I haven’t got one.
SCOUT Is he dead?
SCOUT Then if he isn’t dead, you’ve got one, haven’t you?
(DILL is embarrassed.)
JEM Never mind her, Dill.
SCOUT (exasperated) If his father isn’t dead, how can he say he hasn’t got one?
JEM (has taken her arm) Scout!
(SCOUT stops at his tone and turns to look with him a the door to the Radley place , which is opening. NATHAN RADLEY, a pale, thin, leathery man is coming out.)
SCOUT (relaxing; softly) Nathan Radley.
JEAN When old Mr Radley dies some folks thought Boo might come out, but they has another think coming. Boo’s older brother, Nathan – that’s him – moved in and took his father’s place. At least Nathan Radley would speak to us.
(NATHAN, preoccupied, is passing by.)
JEM (nervously clearing his throat) Hidy do, MR Nathan.
NATHAN (walking off) Afternoon.
JEAN (thoughtfully) Looking back for a place to begin – perhaps it would be what happens next.
(She considers this a moment, nods confirmation to herself and steps offstage. Meanwhile SCOUT, JEM and DILL have al turned to look back at the Radley place.)
JEM Now Boo Radley’s in there all by himself.
DILL Wonder what he does. Looks like he’d stick his head out the door some time.
JEM He goes out when it’s pitch dark. I’ve seen his tracks in our backyard many a morning, and one night I heard him scratching on the back screen.
DILL Wonder what he looks like.
JEM (professionally) Judging from his tracks, he’s about six and a half feet tall, he eats raw squirrels and any cats he can catch. What teeth he has are yellow and rotten. His eyes pop and most of the time he drools.
DILL (with decision) Let’s make him come out?
SCOUT (shocked) Make Boo Radley come out?
JEM If you want to get yourself killed, all you have to do is go up and knock on that door.
DILL (challenging) You’re scared – too scared to put your big toe in the front yard.
JEM Ain’t scared, just respectful.
DILL I dare you.
JEM (trapped) You dare me?
(JEM turns to look at the house apprehensively.)
SCOUT Don’t go near it, Jem.
DILL You gonna run out on a dare?
JEM Lemme think a minute.
DILL Just touch the house. I dare you!
JEM Touch the house, that’s all?
DILL He’ll probably come out after you. Then Scout ‘n me’ll jump on him and hold him down till we can tell him, we just want to look at him.
(JEM does not respond.)
DILL (impatiently) Well?
JEM Don’t hurry me.
(JEM starts slowly towards the house.)
DILL Scout and me’s right behind you.
(As JEM continues towards the Radley house, they follow, SCOUT pausing behind the tree. JEM hesitates.)
DILL Folks where I come from aren’t so scared. I’ve never seen such scary folks as here.
(That does it. JEM speeds to the house, slaps it with his palm, and races back past SCOUT and DILL. DILL follows. SCOUT starts to follow, notices something in a knothole in the tree, takes it, and then follow.)
JEM (panting with excitement) So there –
(They all turn and look back at the house.)
DILL (in an blushed voice) Someone at the window! Look at the curtains!
(The curtains have been pulled slightly to the side, and now they fall back into place.)
JEM (horrified) He was watching! He saw me!
SCOUT (exhausted) Don’t ever do that again. (Absently putting a piece of chewing gum in her mouth) If you get killed – what with Atticus already so old – what would become of me?
JEM (considering her) Where’d you get the chewing gum?
SCOUT (as she chews, she nods towards the tree) It was stcking n the knothole.
JEM (shocked) That tree? Spit it out! Right now!
SCOUT (obeying, but indignant) I was just getting the flavour.
JEM (grimly) Suppose Boo Radley put it there? Suppose it’s poison? You go gargle!
SCOUT (shaking her head) It’d take the taste outa my mouth.
DILL (still concentrating on the Radley house) Let’s throw a pebble against the door – as soon as he sticks his head out, say we want to buy him an ice cream. (Logically) That’ll seem friendly. Maybe if he came out, and sat a spell with us, he’d feel better.
SCOUT How do you know he don’t feel good now?
DILL (concerned) How’d you feel if you’d been shut up for a hundred years with nothing but cats to eat? (Searching about) ‘Course, if you’d rather I throw the pebble –
JEM (disgusted) Better leave it to me. (Apparently picking up a pebble) How many times do I have to show you that –
DILL (unimpressed) Maybe you ran up and touched it, but –
SCOUT (worried) You’re not going to throw a stone at the Radley house!
JEM (to DILL, as he winds up to throw) I guess I just have to keep on showing you –
(He is stopped by an authoritative voice from offstage.)
(JEM stops and they all look towards the direction of the voice offstage.)
DILL Your father!
SCOUT (at the same time) Atticus!
(ATTICUS, carrying an old briefcase and wearing his ‘office’ clothes, comes on. He is tall, quietly impressive, reserved, ‘civilised’ and nearly fifty. He wears glasses, and because of poor sight in his left eye, looks with his right eye when he want to see something well.)
ATTICUS (trying to take in the situation; curiously) Just what were you about to do, Jem?
JEM Nothin’ sir.
ATTICUS (unwilling to be put off) I don’t want any of that. Tell me.
JEM We were – (Assuming responsibility) I was going to throw a pebble – to get Boo Radley to come out.
DILL Because – sir.
(As ATTICUS turns to him, DILL finishes lamely.)
DILL We thought he might enjoy us …
ATTICUS (gravely) I see. (Turning back to JEM, with decision.) Son, I’m going to tell you something and tell you one time. Don’t bother that man.
SCOUT But why doesn’t he ever –
ATTICUS (cutting in) What Mr Radley does is his own business. If he wants to stay inside his own house, he has the right to stay inside – free from the attention of inquisitive children. How would you like it is I barged into your rooms at night without knocking?
JEM That’s different
ATTICUS Is it?
JEM Because we’re not crazy.
ATTICUS What Mr Radley does might seem peculiar to us, but it does not seem peculiar to him.
JEM (protesting) Anyone who stays inside all the time and never-
ATTICUS (cutting in) But that’s his decision. (Considering them) There’s something I’d like you ask. If you’ll do it, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds. You see, you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.
ATTICUS Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
JEM (incredulous) You want us to consider things from Boo Radley’s point of view?
DILL (impatiently) He means – everyone.
SCOUT You stay outa this.
ATTICUS (smiling) Dill’s right. But I expect I’m asking too much. There’s Walter Cunningham.
(With ATTICUS diverted, DILL speaks confidently to JEM and SCOUT, with a nod toward the Radley house.)
DILL I’ve got a much better plan. (Starting to go) See you.
(MR CUNNINGHAM, a farmer, carrying a scak is coming on, as DILL runs off past him.)
ATTICUS (calling) Afternoon, Walter. (Aside to JEM and SCOUT, using Dill’s confidential tone and nod.) Regardless of any plans, you’re to stay away from that house unless invited.
MR CUNN. (holding out the sac) This is for you Mr Finch. Turnip greens.
ATTICUS (accepting the sack gravely) Thank you very much.
MR CUNN. I’d like to pay cash for your services, but between the mortgage and the entailment –
ATTICUS This is just fine. Jem, please take this sack to Cal.
(JEM takes the sack and goes inside.)
ATTICUS I’d say your bill is settled Walter.
MR CUNN. (doubtfully) You pun in a lot of time .
ATTICUS Let’s see now. You left of load of stove wood in the backyard, then a sack of hickory nuts. At Christmas there was a crate of smilax and holly. Now a bag of turnip greens. I’m more than aid.
MR CUNN. If you say so.
SCOUT Your boy’s in my class at school, MR Cunningham. (Uneasily, as she recalls) We had a disagreement the other day.
MR CUNN. (smiling) I have a few with that boy myself, little lady.
SCOUT (concerned) I didn’t actually beat him up bad.
MR CUNN. (amused) If he can’t defend himself against a girl, he’ll just have to take it. (To ATTICUS, as he goes) Much obliged, Mr Finch.
ATTICUS (after him) Any time I can be of help.
SCOUT (curious) Why does he pay with stove wood and turnip greens?
ATTICUS Because that’s the only way he can.
SCOUT Are we poor, Atticus?
ATTICUS We are indeed.
SCOUT As poor as the Cunninghams?
ATTICUS Not exactly. The Cunninghams are country folks and the depression hits them hardest. (Curious) What was your trouble with my client’s boy?
SCOUT He said some things I didn’t like. (shrugs) I rubbed his nose in the dirt.
ATTICUS That’s not very ladylike. What’d he say?
(JEM is coming back onto the porch with his football.)
SCOUT Things. And I think we should have a talk. I’ve been watching for you to get home because –
(She is interrupted by JEM, who is cocking his arm to pass the football.)
JEM Atticus! Catch!
ATTICUS (making no move) Hang onto it, son. Not today.
JEM (coming down off the porch) Atticus, will you be going out for the Methodists? For the football game?
ATTICUS What game?
JEM (eagerly) It won’t be till fall, but everyone’s talking about it already. It’s for fundraising. The Methodists challenged the Baptists to a game of touch football.
ATTICUS (smiling) Afraid I wouldn’t be of much help, Jem.
JEM Everybody in town’s father is playing.
ATTICUS (going up onto the porch) Except yours
JEM (insisting) Every other father –
ATTICUS (cheerfully) I’d break my neck.
JEM It’s touch.
ATTICUS I’m too old for that sort of thing.
JEM (unhappily; taking a breath) Sir – would you have time to show Scout ‘n me how to shoot our air rifles? Later, I mean?
ATTICUS (sorry to be disappointment) I’ve told you – you’ll have to wait for you Uncle Jack. (Encouragingly) He’ll really show you.
(ATTICUS seems to be missing the point.)
JEM Couldn’t you show us?
ATTICUS (as a simple statement of fact) I’m not interesting in guns.
(ATTICUS goes into the house. JEM, disappointed and disappointed and disturbed, turns back to SCOUT.)
JEM He’s not interested in anything!
(With all his strength, JEM throws the football offstage.)
SCOUT (unimpressed) Now you’ll have to chase after it. (Nodding to one side; curious) Jem – why do folks slow down as they go past?
JEM (turning) What folks?
(He follows the direction of Scout’s gaze. Voices are heard from that direction offstage.)
VOICE (unfriendly) Yonder’s some Finches.
ANOTHER VOICE Them’s his chill’un!
ANOTHER VOICE For all he cares, blacks c’n run loose and rip up the countryside.
SCOUT (perplexed) Why is everybody –
JEM (dismissing them) Because that’s the way they are.
SCOUT But why –
JEM (not wanting to continue; going) I have to get my football.
(AS JEM runs off, ATTICUS comes back onto the porch.)
ATTICUS Someone call?
SCOUT I’ve been meaning to ask – (she takes a breath) Atticus, do you defend niggers?
ATTICUS (startled) Of course I do. Don’t say ‘nigger,’ Scout. That’s common.
SCOUT ‘S what everybody at school says.
ATTICUS From now on it’ll be everybody less one.
SCOUT Do all lawyers defend N-Negroes?
ATTICUS They do.
SCOUT (exasperated) Then why do the kids at school make it sound like you’re doin’ somethin’ awful?
ATTICUS You aren’t old enough to understand some things yet, Scout, but there’s been a lot of high talk around town that I shouldn’t do much defending Tom Robinson. (Firmly) But I’m going to defend that man.
SCOUT If they say you shouldn’t, why are you doing, why are you doing it?
ATTICUS (considering this) The main reason: if I didn’t defend him, I couldn’t hold my head up.
(ATTICUS looks at SCOUT and smiles.)
ATTICUS I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again.
SCOUT You mean Jem and me wouldn’t have to mind you any more?
ATTICUS That’s about right.
ATTICUS Because I could never ask you to mind me again. Every lawyer gets at least on case in his lifetime that affects him personally. This one’s mine, I guess.
SCOUT Are we going to win it?
ATTICUS No, honey.
SCOUT Then, why –
ATTICUS Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.
SCOUT You sound like some old Confederate veteran.
ATTICUS Only we aren’t fighting Yankees. We’ll be fighting our friends. But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home.
SCOUT (confused) Is there something you want me to do, Atticus?
ATTICUS (nodding) Keep your head – even if things turns ugly. And I hope you can get through what’s coming without catching Maycomb’s usual disease. Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up is something I don’t pretend to understand.
SCOUT The Tom Robinson case must be pretty important.
ATTICUS (speaking quietly) It goes to the essence of a man’s conscience.
SCOUT (concerned for him) Supposed you’re wrong about it?
ATTICUS How’s that?
SCOUT Most people think they’re right and you’re wrong.
ATTICUS They’re entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions. (Ready to go back into the house) But before I can live with other folks, I’ve got to live with myself.
SCOUT What does that mean?
ATTICUS (pause; smiling) One thing doesn’t abide by majority rule – a person’s conscience
(ATTICUS goes on into the house, SCOUT looks after him a moment, then turns and looks offstage.)
SCOUT (calling) Jem – (Eager to talk to him; she hurries offstage) Jem – Hey!
(As SCOUT goes off, JEAN steps back on stage.)
JEAN I thought I had interesting information to pass along to Jem. Apparently, our father was more complex than we’d realised. Certainly this new aspect of his legal practise was more promising than doing papers in an office. (shaking her head as she recalls) I found my brother unresponsive. Probably the Tom Robinson case wasn’t quite as new to him as it was to me. Thinking about it now, probably it was abuse from older boys that made so eager to involve his father in sensible community activities – like a game of touch football. All such invitations were politely declined. Then a few weeks later something happened – something that made our father even more of a puzzle. The tension in the town about the approaching trail was getting drummer-tight, but what happened had nothing to do with that – it had to do with a liver-coloured bird dog named Tim.
(JEM and SCOUT are coming back on, with JEM pulling Scout along)
SCOUT (protesting) Why do I have to come home?
JEM Because I tell you. (concerned) That old dog from down yonder is sick. (calling) Cal, can you come out a minute.
SCOUT It’s only Tim, and he’s gone lopsided, that’s all.
(CALPURNIA comes out onto the porch, wiping her hands on a t towel.)
CALPURNIA What is it, Jem? I can’t come out every time you want me.
JEM Somethin’ wrong with that old dog down yonder.
CALPURNIA (sighing) I can’t wrap up any dogs foot right now.
JEM He’s sick, Cal. Somethin’ wrong with him.
CALPURNIA (finally interested) Tryin’ to catch his tail?
JEM No, he’s doin’ like this.
(JEM gulps, like a goldfish, hunching his shoulders and twisting his torso, while CALPURNIA watches narrowly.)
CALPURNIA (his voice hardening) You tellin’ a story, Jem Finch?
JEM No, Cal. And he’s coming this way.
JEM (shaking his head) Just moseyin’ – but walkin’ funny.
CALPURNIA (that decides her) I cal help.
(She pauses before hurrying into house.)
CALPURNIA You two get in off the street.
(Calpurnia hurries inside.)
JEM (to scout) Come on.
SCOUT (reluctantly coming up onto the porch with jem) Hes’ not even in sight.
CALPURNIA (Voice offstage, loud and anxious – apparently on the telephone) Opperator, Hello – Miss Eula May, ma-am? Please gimme Mr Finchs office – right away.
SCOUT (To JEM) You started something.
CALPURNIA (Offstage, half-shouting) Mr Finch, this is Cal. There’s a mad dog down the street a piece. Jem says he’s comin’ this way! Yes – yessir – yes!
(she hangs up)
JEM (calling in) What’s Atticus say?
CALPURNIA (offstage, calling back) In a minute.
(She rattles the telephone hook and then speaks loudly again.)
CALPURNIA Miss Eula May. I’m through talking to Mr FINCH. Listen, can you call Miss Crawford, Miss Atkinson and whoevers got a phone on this street and tell ‘em a mad dogs comin’. Please, ma-am … hurry!
SCOUT What about the Radleys? They got a phone?
(CALPURNIA is coming back onto the porch.)
JEM They wouldn’t come out anyway.
SCOUT Maybe Nathan –
(She comes down off the porch and goes towards the Radley house.)
SCOUT I better call out to them.
(Both CALPURNIA and JEM go after her.)
JEM No, Scout.
CALPUNIA (catching her) Listen to me – go back and you stay.
SCOUT I just want to shout to the Radleys.
CALPURNIA You go back!
(CALPURNIA races up onto the Radley Porch where she starts banging on the door. At the same time casting about nervous glances.)
SCOUT (softly; impressed) She’s not scared one bit.
JEM (continuously moving) I don’t see Tim.
SCOUT (following JEM) Maybe he turned off.
CALPURNIA (Meanwhile banging on the Radley door) Mr Nathan – Mr Boo! Mad dogs comin’! Mad dogs comin’! Hear me? Don’t come outside. Mad dog!
(During this, SCOUT has noticed something in the tree knothole and she takes it.)
JEM (Suddenly tense as he watches) I see him! There he is! Cal! (grabbing Scout) Get back!
(CALPURNIA runs down to join them. She herds them head of her with anxious glances back.)
CALPURNIA Both of you – inside the house and stay inside!
(CALPURNIA pause to look back.)
CALPURNIA That Tim’s gone mad all right!
(SCOUT has stopped to shout back at the silent Radley house.)
SCOUT He’s comin’ now, Mr Radley!
CALPURNIA (giving SCOUT a fierce swat on the seat) Git inside!
SCOUT (muttering bitterly as she house up onto the porch) You always pick on me.
JEM You had it coming.
SCOUT (pointing and justifying herself) He’s moving slow as a snail.
(They have all turned on the porch to watch Tim’s ‘approach’ offstage. SCOUT starts inspecting a small box she is holding.)
JEM What’s that?
JEM (watching for Tim again) Where’s you find it?
SCOUT Where I found the chewing gum – that old knothole.
(JEM is startled into looking at SCOUT again.)
JEM The Radley tree?
(SCOUT shrugs her indifference.)
CALPURNIA (watching intently; softly) Please come soon, Mr Finch.
JEM What’s inside?
SCOUT (inspecting) Two pennies – all slicked up.
JEM (impressed) Indian-heads. They’re real valuable. They make you have good luck. Why would someone leave valuable Indian-head pennies –
SCOUT (protectively) They’re mine. (Pointing) I risked my life out there!
JEM (considering the situation offstage again) Old Tim’s walkin’ like his legs are shorter than his left legs.
(They all lean forward to watch. From offstage there is the sound of an automobile approaching.)
JEAN We assumed that Atticus would turn to competent authority to handle this dangerous situation, and our assumption was to prove correct.
(The sound of the approaching car comes to a stop.)
JEAN When our father arrived, he was accompanied by the sheriff.
(ATTICUS comes on with HECK TATE, who carries a heavy rifle. The go past JEAN as though she is not there and pause by the far edge of the porch.)
JEM (going down to join them) Atticus – he’s over there behind …
ATTICUS Stay on the porch, son.
CALPURNIA Back behind the Radley pecan trees.
HECK Not runnin’, is he, Cal?
CALPURNIA He’s in the twitchin’ stage, Mr Heck.
(HECK watches carefully as he advances a few steps.)
HECK Usually they go in a straight line, but you never can tell.
ATTICUS (following behind HECK) The slope will probably bring him back onto the road.
SCOUT (to CALPURNIA) I thought mad dogs foamed at the mouth and jumped at your throat.
ATTICUS (softly) There he is.
SCOUT He just looks sick.
HECK (aside to ATTICUS) He’s got it all right, Mr Finch.
JEM (calling) Is he looking for a place to die, Mr Heck?
HECK (over his shoulder) Far from dead, Jem. He hasn’t got started yet.
ATTICUS He’s within range, Heck. You better get him before he goes down a side street. Lord knows who’s around the corner. (Calling back) Cal –
CALPURNIA (understanding; to JEM and SCOUT) Inside the house – both of you.
JEM (temporising) If he gets closer …
SCOUT (clutching the porch rail tightly with both hands) I don’t go in till he goes in.
JEM I wanta watch the sheriff!
JEAN It was right then – the most astonishing thing happened. Jem and I almost fainted.
(HECK turns and offers the rifle to ATTICUS.)
HECK You take him, Mr Finch. You do it.
JEAN We thought the sheriff must’ve lost his mind.
ATTICUS (urgently) Don’t waste time, Heck! Go on!
HECK Mr Finch – this is a one shot job.
ATTICUS (vehemently) Don’t just stand there, Heck!
HECK (frantic) Look where he is! For God’s sake, Mr Finch! I can’t shoot that well and you know it.
ATTICUS I haven’t shot a gun in thirty years.
(HECK shoves the rifle into Atticus’ hands.)
HECK I’d feel mighty comfortable if you did now.
(Holding the rifle, ATTICUS decides o accept the responsibility and, watching carefully, he moves forward several steps.)
JEAN (as this is happening) Jem and I were in a fog – watching our father standing there in the street with a rifle. Others were watching, too, but we didn’t know it then. It didn’t make any sense at all. It was utterly beyond belief.
(ATTICUS has taken off his glasses, and still keeping watch, he drops them on the street. He rubs one eye and blinks. Then his body goes tense as he focuses totally on the mad dog offstage.)
CALPURNIA (He hands to her cheeks) Sweet Jesus, help him.
(ATTICUS works the bolt action, apparently slamming a cartridge into the chamber, raises the rifle quickly, and fires.)
HECK (a shout) got him! (Happy and relieved, as he hurries off) you got him!
ATTICUS (after him) Yes, but I think I was a little to the right. (Muttering as he picks up his glasses) If I had my druthers, I’d take a shotgun!
(HECK is re-entering.)
HECK Dead as a doornail. (As though it’s news.) Just a little to the right.
ATTICUS (handing the rifle back to HECK) Always was.
(Porch doors are opening, and MISS STEPHANIE and MISS MAUDIE are cautiously coming out.)
HECK I’ll have someone come down with a pick-up and take him away.
(ATTICUS stops JEM and SCOUT, who are coming down off the porch.)
ATTICUS You stay where you are.
HECK You haven’t forgot much, Mr Finch. They say it never leaves you.
JEM (calling) Atticus –
ATTICUS Yes, Jem?
JEM I – I didn’t know –
MS MAUDIE (from her porch) I saw that, One-Shot Finch.
(ATTICUS shakes his head at her and turns back to his son.)
ATTICUS Jem – you and your sister stay away from that dog. He’s just as dangerous dead as alive.
JEM Yes, Sir. Atticus?
ATTICUS What, son?
HECK (amused at JEM’S hesitation) What’s the matter, boy, can’ you talk? Didn’t you know your daddy’s –
ATTICUS Hush, Heck. Let’s get back to town.
HECK What’s your hurry now? (Good-humoured teasing) Have to get back o workin’ up your speeches for the trail?
ATTICUS (as they go; wryly) Don’t remind me.
(They go offstage. CALPURNIA goes inside the house.)
MS STEPH Maybe Tim wasn’t really mad. Maybe he was just full of fleas – and Atticus Finch shot him dead.
MS MAUDIE If that Tim was still comin’ up the street, maybe you’d be singing a different tune.
MS STEPH (agreeing) Maybe I would. (As she is going back into the house) I’ll admit I felt safer when I saw Atticus take the rifle.
JEM (still in shock) Did you see him, Scout? All of a sudden it looked like that gun was part of him. He did it so quick – I hafta aim for ten minutes ‘fore I can hit somethin’.
MS MAUDIS (with a wicked smile) Well, now, Miss Jean Louise. Still think your father can’t do anything? Still ashamed of him?
SCOUT (meekly) No, ma’am.
MS MAUDIE Forgot to mention the other day that he was the deadest shot in Maycomb country.
JEM Dead shot –
MS MAUDIE Something for you to think about, Jem Finch. When he was a boy his nickname was Ol’ One-Shot. Why, if he shot fifteen times and hit fourteen doves, he’d complain about wasting ammunition.
JEM But he never said anything about it.
SCOUT Wonder why he never goes huntin’ now.
MS MAUDIE If your father’s anything, he’s civilised. Marksmanship like that’s a gift of God. I think maybe he put his gun down when he realised God had given him an unfair advantage.
SCOUT Looks like he’d be proud of it.
MS MAUDIE (going) People like your father never bother about pride in their gifts.
(MISS MAUDIE re-enters her house.)
JEAN This bewildering event unsettled our establishment view of Atticus. It was something to talk over – no, celebrate! (Wryly) But we didn’t get far.
(MRS DUBOSE is coming out onto her porch.)
SCOUT (filled with anticipation) Will I have something to tell ‘em at school on Monday!
JEM Don’t know if we should say anything about it.
SCOUT (coming down off the porch) I’d like to find the Cunningham boy right now! Ain’t everybody’s daddy the deadest shot in Maycomb County.
JEM (following her) I reckon if he’d wanted us to know, he’da told us.
SCOUT Maybe it just slipped his mind.
JEM Naw, it’s something you wouldn’t understand. (Blazing with this new pride) We don’t have to talk about it any more’n he does – but we know! (To the sky) An’ I don’t care if he’s a hundred years years old!
SCOUT (calling out) Hey, Mrs Dubose! Did you see my father –
MS DOBOSE Don’t say ‘hey’ to me, you ugly girl! You say ‘Good afternoon, Mrs Dubose.’
JEAN In point of fact Jem and I didn’t get to the end of the street before we’d been slapped down again about our father.
MS DUBOSE You should be in a dress and camisole, young lady. If somebody doesn’t change your ways, you’ll grow up waiting on tables. Finch waiting on tables at the O.K. Café – hah!
(SCOUT, upset, reaches out and takes JEM’S hand.)
JEAN I was terrified. The O.K. Café was a dim organisation at the edge of town. (As she recalls) We still didn’t know what was really the matter with Mrs Dubose – but that’s part of what Atticus wanted us to do – part of why I’m trying to remember it all now.
(JEAN steps offstage. Meanwhile JEM has disentangled his hand from that of his uneasy sister.)
JEM (aside to her; whispering) Come on, Scout. Don’t pay any attention. Just hold your head high – and be a gentlemen.
(SCOUT decides to make the effort, and they start walking again. However, MRS DUBOSE will not let them alone.)
MS DOSE A lovelier lady than your mother never lived. It’s shocking the way Atticus Finch lets her children run wild.
SCOUT (whispering) I’m with you.
JEM (whispering back) We’ll keep walking.
MS DUBOSE Not only a Finch waiting on tables, but one in the courthouse, lawing for nigger!
(JEM, strung hard, stops short.)
SCOUT (whispering, anxiously) Let’s keep goin’, Jem.
MS DUBOSE (as she’s going back inside) What’s this world come to with the Finches going against their raising? (Her parting shot) Your father’s no better than the trash he works for!
(With this, she completes her exit, leaving SCOUT hurt and JEM stunned.)
JEM (gasping) I’ll – I’ll fix her!
SCOUT Hold your head high, Jem, an’ –
JEM She has no right –
SCOUT (trying to hold him) Jem –
JEM (shoving her hands away) Just because Atticus – I’m sick and tired – everybody –
(JEM races up onto Mrs Dubose’s porch, where he starts tearing up the potted flower there.)
SCOUT (frantic) Jem! Come back!
JEM (shouting back) Go home! Stay outa this!
(As the shocked SCOUT feels her way back toward her porch, JEM turns, having completed the destruction of Mrs Dubose’s porch flowers, and rushes off, apparently intent on further objects for his fury.)
SCOUT (after him; a cry) Jem!
(But JEM, past hearing, has gone. Frightened, SCOUT goes back onto her porch, from where she watches anxiously. DILL dressed in different clothes – dusty and untidy – comes on.)
DILL (subdued) Hey, Scout.
SCOUT (DILL’S presence only half-registering) Jem’s outa control! He’s gone mad! (Looking back) He’s knocking the tops off every camellia bush Mrs Dubose owns!
DILL (impressed) Thought Jem had a slow fuse.
SCOUT Not any more. He’s gone crazy.
DILL From people sayin’ things about your father?
SCOUT Yes – Mrs Dubose – (Stops herself; curiously) How’d you know?
SCOUT (Eager for DILL to know) We found out somethin’ about Atticus today – somethin’ special.
DILL (not surprised) About time.
SCOUT (busting with it) He’s the deadest shot in Maycomb!
(This is not what DILL expects.)
DILL (disappointed) That’s what you found out?
SCOUT (nodding) It’s the truth. So it doesn’t matter what folks say.
DILL Wouldn’t matter anyway.
(SCOUT becomes aware that they are not quite talking about the same thing. She considers him.)
SCOUT What are you doing here? I thought you’d been taken back to stay with your folks in Meridian?
DILL (uneasily) I – I was.
SCOUT Then how in the Sam Hill –
DILL It’s – you see –
SCOUT (as his appearance finally registers) You’re all mussed ‘n’ dusty.
DILL ‘Course I am. (he takes a quick breath) I have a new father, and he doesn’t like me – so he had me bound in chains and left to die in the basement. But I was secretly kept alive on raw field beans by a passing farmer who heard my cries for help.
SCOUT If you were chained up in the basement –
DILL The good man poked a bushel of beans to me – pod by pod – through the ventilator!
(During this, JEM is coming back on stage at the point where he went off. Aghast at himself, he is moving slowly towards the porch, not yet noticed by the others.)
SCOUT (hooked) Lucky for you that good man was passing.
DILL (sure of himself now) I working myself free – pulling the chains from the walls. Then – still in wrist irons – I wandered out of Meridian where they discovered a small animal show – and they hired me to wash the camel.
SCOUT How do you go about washing a –
DILL (pressing on) I travelled all over with that show – everywhere – till suddenly my sense of direction told me I was just across the river from Maycomb. (He gulps a quick breath) What I did then –
(JEM has come up on the last of this, still unnoticed.)
JEM (cutting in) How did you get here, Dill?
DILL Hey, Jem.
SCOUT Jem – (Suddenly it comes back; horrified) Jem – what did you –
JEM (cutting her off) I was speaking to Dill.
Dill (sighing; undramaic) I took thirteen dollars from my mother’s purse, caught the nine o’clock train from Meridian, got off at the junction, and walked the rest of the way.
JEM Why’d you run off?
DILL Didn’t run off. Decided I’d come back here, that’s all.
SCOUT You want to stay with your Aunt Rachel?
DILL I want to stay here.
SCOUT With us?
JEM (grim) We’re gonna have a hot summer.
DILL I don’t care.
(ATTICUS is hurrying on stage.)
SCOUT (warningly) Jem –
(ATTICUS walks past them over to the front of the Dubose house, and for a moment he considers it.)
JEM (aside to DILL; nervously) Maybe you better come back later.
DILL (hushed) I’m not going.
(ATTICUS turns and walks back towards the group.)
SCOUT (bravely) Look at this Atticus – we’ve got a visitor. Here’s Dill – come back from Meridian. (Trying to fill the awkward silence) He knows how to wash a camel.
ATTICUS (gravely acknowledging him) Dill.
DILL (swallowing) Sir.
ATTICUS (a suggestion of winter in his voice) Jem – I had a phone call a few minutes ago. Are you responsible for the damage to those flowers?
JEM Yes, sir.
ATTICUS Why’d you do it?
JEM (softly) Mrs Dubose said you lawed for niggers.
ATTICUS (getting it straight) And that’s why you destroyed her garden?
JEM (swallowing) Yes, sir.
ATTICUS Son, I have no doubt you’ve been annoyed by your contemporaries about me lawing for niggers, as you say, but to do something like this to a sick old lady is inexcusable. I strongly advise you to go over and have a talk with Mrs Dubose.
JEM (started) Talk to her!
ATTICUS Right now.
JEM But –
ATTICUS Go on, Jem.
SCOUT But – sir –
ATTICUS (stopping her) Scout.
JEM (getting himself together) All right. I’ll go talk to her.
ATTICUS (unmoved) Come straight home afterwards.
(JEM goes towards the Dubose house like a man walking bravely to his execution. During the following speeches, he goes up to her door, knocks, and is let in.)
SCOUT (to ATTICUS) All he was doin’ was standin’ up for you!
ATTICUS (as he looks after JEM) Never thought Jem’d be the one to lose his head. (Turning toward SCOUT) Thought I’d have more trouble with you.
SCOUT Why do we have to keep our heads anyway? Nobody at school has to keep his head about anything.
ATTICUS (not happy about it) You’ll soon have to be keeping your head about far worse things. (Turning to DILL) Your Aunt Rachel didn’t mention you were coming back.
SCOUT She doesn’t know.
DILL Please, Mr Finch – don’t tell her I’m here.
ATTICUS Don’t tell her –
SCOUT He’s run away.
DILL Don’t make me go back, sir!
ATTICUS Let me get this straight –
DILL If you make me go back, I’ll run away again.
ATTICUS Whoa, son.
SCOUT He’s been living on raw beans.
DILL (nervously) Scout –
ATTICUS Let me do a little telephone. (Not letting DILL interrupt) I’ll ask if you could spend the night – perhaps stay a few days.
DILL (hopefully) Would you, sir?
ATTICUS (as he goes inside) Maybe Scout can get you something to go with the raw beans.
DILL (after him) Oh, I’m fine. Not hungry at all.
(ATTICUS smiles as he enters the house.)
SCOUT (regarding DILL critically) I’d think you’d be starving.
SCOUT (her suspicions growing) Was your father really hateful like you said?
DILL (unhappy) That wasn’t it, he – they just wasn’t interested in me.
SCOUT You’re not telling me right. Your folks couldn’t do without you.
Dill Yes, they can. They get on a lot better without me. They stay gone most of the time, and when they’re home, they’re always by themselves. And – I can’t help them any. (Being fair) They’re not mean. They buy me everything I want, but then it’s – (imitating a man’s voice) – now you’ve – got – it – go – play – with – it.
SCOUT They must need you. Why, Atticus couldn’t get along a day without my help and advice.
DILL (struggling with an idea) The special thing about our father – it isn’t that he’s a dead shot, it’s –
SCOUT (highly critical) He made Jem go over to Mrs Dubose.
DILL Don’t you see why he did that?
SCOUT (unimpressed) Because it’s his way.
DILL (agreeing) And Jem’ll be all right. (Trying to catch her interest) If I get to stay a few days, I have a new plan for bringing out Boo Radley.
SCOUT (turning to look at the Radley house) Why do you reckon Boo Radley’s never run off?
DILL Maybe he doesn’t have anywhere run off to. (Back to business) For my plan, we’ll need a box of lemon drops. I’ll put one just outside his door – and then a row of them down the street.
(ATTICUS is coming back onto the porch, but DILL is too wrapped up in his scheme to see him.)
DILL When he thinks he’s safe, he’ll came out to pick the lemon drop.
(DILL’S pantomiming is leading him toward the still unseen ATTICUS.)
DILL Then he’ll notice the next one – then on to next – he’ll follow like an ant – then another – then –
(The place for the next imaginary sweet is occupied by Atticus’ shoes. DILL stops and looks up.)
ATTICUS (smiling) That’s a lot of lemon drops.
DILL (uneasily) We were foolin’, sir.
ATTICUS You’ve been the subject of considerable conversation.
DILL What’d Aunt Rachel say?
ATTICUS A first I came under the heading of: ‘Wait till they get you home.’ Then it was, ‘His folks must be out of their minds worrying.’ And she ended with ‘Reckon he can stay on for tonight anyway.’
DILL (delighted) Hey! (To SCOUT) Hear that!
ATTICUS Couldn’t’ve been more agreeable. (smiling) They said you could stay for as long as you’re not in the way.
(SCOUT gives a gasp of pleasure.)
DILL (subdued) I see.
SCOUT Great! Isn’t that great?
DILL (with an effort) Sure is. (To ATTICUS, trying to draw him out) Guess they were looking all over Meridian for me.
ATTICUS (shaking his head and smiling) No, they thought you were probably stuck in some picture show.
DILL (disappointed, but smiling back) Generally, they’d be right, too.
ATTICUS (becoming aware of DILL’S problem) We’ll be going through quite a difficult time, Dill. It’ll be good having you with us.
DILL Do you mean –
ATTICUS It’ll be a help having you here. There’s a cot in Jem’s room.
(HECK TATE is coming on stage.)
DILL Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.
HECK (calling) Mr Finch.
ATTICUS More company. Come on up, Heck.
HECK (reserved) Rather speak with you down here.
ATTICUS (thoughtfully) Oh?
SCOUT (aside to her father) What is it?
ATTICUS Only two reasons why grown men talk in the front yard – death or politics. (Calling) Which is it, Heck?
HECK (wryly) Could be a little of both, Mr Finch.
ATTICUS (considering this) Then we’d better talk. (He pauses. To SCOUT) Maybe you and Dill can give Calpurnia a hand.
SCOUT I want to know what’s happening.
ATTICUS (firmly) You’ll stay here. (Glancing towards him) Dill?
(DILL takes hold of Scout’s are, as ATTICUS crosses over to HECK.)
SCOUT (jerking her arm free) Don’t get any idea you can boss me, too!
(SCOUT crosses over to the porch swing.)
DILL (following; apologetically) They have business.
(HECK has turned aside and speak confidentially to ATTICUS.)
HECK They moved Tom Robinson to the county jail this afternoon. I don’t look for trouble, but I can’t guarantee there won’t be any.
ATTICUS Don’t be foolish, Heck. This is Maycomb.
HECK I’m just uneasy, that’s all.
ATTICUS Trial’ll probably begin day after tomorrow. You can keep him till then, can’t you? (Smiling) I don’t think anybody’ll begrudge me a client with times this hard.
HECK (smiling back) It’s just that Old Sarum bunch. You know how they do when they get shinned up.
ATTICUS Are they drinking?
HECK Could be. (Worried) I don’t see why you touched this case. You’ve got everything to lose.
ATTICUS (quietly) Do you really think so?
(At this, SCOUT comes to the porch rail followed by DILL.)
HECK (taking breath; frankly) Yes, I do, Atticus. I mean- everything.
ATTICUS (with decision) Heck, that boy might go to the chair, but he’s not going till the truth’s told.
HECK (resigned) Okay, Mr Finch.
ATTICUS And you know as well as I do what the truth is.
(Jem, coming from the Dubose house, pauses as he sees HECK and his father.)
HECK (withdrawn) Just thought I should keep you informed.
ATTICUS And I appreciated it, Heck. Thank you.
HECK (relaxing again) Sure – Well, take care of yourself.
(HECK goes offstage.)
ATTICUS (after him; smiling) Don’t worry. (as JEM approaches) Well, son?
JEM I told her I’d work on her garden and try to make it grow back. And I said I was sorry – but I’m not. What was Heck Tate –
ATTICUS (cutting in) No point in saying you’re sorry, if your aren’t.
JEM How about what she said?
ATTICUS She’s old and she’s ill. (Going back into the house) I have work.
JEM (after him) She wants me to read to her.
JEM She wants me to come over every afternoon and read out loud for two hours. Atticus – do I have to?
ATTICUS You do.
JEM (protesting) Her house is so dark – creepy – shadows on the ceiling.
ATTICUS (smiling grimly) That should appeal to your imagination. (As he goes) Just pretend you’re inside the Radley house.
(JEM looks after ATTICUS.)
JEM (perplexed) He’s sure in a peculiar mood these days. (Turning to DILL and SCOUT) What’d Heck want?
DILL (dramatic) Death and politics!
SCOUT Don’t be silly. It was just they moved Tom Robinson to the Maycomb jail.
DILL (to JEM) Your father said I could stay. He said I could take the cot in your room.
SCOUT What are you gonna read to Mrs Dubose?
JEM Ivanhoe. (Perplexed) Why would she want me to read aloud?
DILL Seemed like your father wasn’t surprised.
(ATTICUS is coming back onto the porch with CALPURNIA. He is carrying a small folding chair and an electrical extention cord with a light bulb at the end.)
JEM (anxiously, to DILL) why wouldn’t he be surprised?
DILL Ask him.
ATTICUS Ask me what?
ATTICUS You folks’ll be in bed when I come back, so I’ll say good night now.
SCOUT Where are you goin’?
ATTICUS Out. You mind Calpurnia.
JEM What are you doin’ with the chair and light bulb?
ATTICUS Might have use for them. (As he goes) Look after things, Cal.
CALPURNIA Do my best, Mr Finch.
(ATTICUS goes offstage.)
SCOUT (turning to CALPURNIA) Where’s he goin’?
CALPURNIA (looking after ATTICUS;a little grimly) I could make a guess – only I won’t. Almost time for dinner. You get washed – all three of you.
(CALPURNIA goes back inside.)
DILL I really need to wash.
SCOUT That’s the main thing Cal thinks about. Why wouldn’t she make a guess?
(No one has an answer to this.)
JEM Why was Atticus takin’ a chair an’ a light bulb?
(No one has the answer to this either, and they start to go inside. As they are going JEM speak.)
JEM What else was Heck sayin’ to Atticus?
(As they go inside, JEAN comes on. The lights begin slowly dimming, and an inner curtain is lowered. Then ATTICUS enters carrying a standing hat rack which he sets up and over which he hangs the light bulb, the cord to which goes offstage. Then he sets up his folding chair beside this.)
JEAN (meanwhile) Dill and I recounted all we’d heard of the conversation in the yard, and Jem thought about it. He hardly said a word through dinner. Then, later, instead of going to bed, Jem said he thought he’d go downstairs for a while. I decided I was coming, too – and there was no stopping Dill.
(The stage is now much darker.)
JEAN We crept past Mrs Dubose’s house – the Radley place – and then on to the town square. It was deserted. We thought Atticus was probably I his office, and went over – but wasn’t. We were getting uneasy.
(SCOUT, JEM and DILL are coming on stage and they go a few steps past JEAN, no seeing her, and then stop.)
JEAN We came around by the courthouse and when we did, we noticed something peculiar – there was a light over the door to the jailhouse.
(ATTICUS has meanwhile seated himself in his chair, opened his newspaper, and turned on the dim light bulb hanging beside him, and is reading.)
JEM (relieved) There he is!
SCOUT (starting) Well, let’s –
JEM (grabbing her) No, Scout.
SCOUT I just want to ask why he’s sitting in front of the jailhouse.
DILL Maybe we shouldn’t bother him right now.
SCOUT But –
DILL It’s pretty late.
JEM He’s all right, so let’s go home. I just wanted to see where he was.
(The sound of approaching cars is heard.)
SCOUT After all this runnin’ round town, we might at least –
JEM Shh –
SCOUT He can’t hear me.
JEM No – listen!
DILL It’s cars. A lotta cars coming.
(The sounf is getting closer, and then it stops.)
JEM (nervously) I wonder what –
DILL So many.
JEM (hushed; urgently) Get down. We’ll get down ‘n’ watch.
(They get down to watch unseen. The stage light id quite dim noe except for the small area around ATTICUS, who has meanwhile looked up at the sound. He closes his newspaper, folds it and puts it in his lap. Then he pushed his hat back on his head, waiting.)
SCOUT (a half-scared whisper) What’s happening?
JEM (whispering back) Quiet!
JEAN The way it looked to us, Atticus was quite calm. He seemed to be expecting exactly what was coming.
(In the darkness,, a group of men come on, seen only dimly, moving slowly and deliberately toward ATTICUS. The group includes MR CUNNINGHAM and BOB EWELL; the rest of the ‘mob’ are not identifiable in the dim light; they are all dressed in farm clothes. They are facing towards ATTICUS, sullen, determined and ominous.)
BOB EWELL He in there, Mr Finch?
ATTICUS He is, and he’s asleep. Don’t wake him up.
MR CUNN. You know what we want. Step aside from the door, Mr Finch.
ATTICUS You can turn around and go home again, Walter.
MR CUNN. Won’t do that.
ATTICUS (pleasantly) Might as well. Heck Tate’s around somewhere.
BOB EWELL The hell he is.
THIRD MAN Heck’s bunch’s so deep in the woods, they won’t get out till morning.
ATTICUS Indeed? Why so?
THIRD MAN Called ‘em off on a snipe hunt.
BOB EWELL (crowing) Didn’t think o’ that, Mr Finch?
ATTICUS Thought about it, but didn’t believe it.
MR CUNN. Guess that changes things.
BOB EWELL Oh, yes, it do!
ATTICUS (getting up from his chair) Do you really think so?
(At this SCOUT is getting up. ATTICUS and the group face each other.)
JEAN ‘Do you really think so?’ was a dangerous question from Atticus. I decided he was about to deal with somebody. This was too goof to miss!
SCOUT I’m gonna see –
(She darts forward.)
JEM (after; anxiously) Scout! Wait!
(But SCOUT rushes up through the group)
SCOUT (as she comes) H-ey, Atticus!
ATTICUS (startled; afraid for her) Scout!
(JEM and DILL are following into the circle of light.)
JEM (apologetic) Couldn’t hang onto her.
ATTICUS (urgently) Go home, Jem. Take Scout and Dill and go home.
(JEM is looking at the group.)
ATTICUS Jem – I said, go home.
JEM (back to ATTICUS) Will you be coming home with us?
ATTICUS Son, I told you –
(A big man grabs JEM.)
BIG MAN I’ll send him home.
SCOUT Don’t you touch him!
BIG MAN I’m telling you to –
(SCOUT kicks the big man in the shins, and he cries out, letting go of JEM and hopping back into the group.)
ATTICUS That’ll do, Scout. Don’t kick folks.
SCOUT (indignant) But he-
ATTICUS No, Scout.
SCOUT Nobody gonna do Jem that way.
THIRD MAN All right, Mr Finch, you get ‘em outa here.
BOB EWELL Give ya fifteen seconds.
JEM I ain’t going.
ATTICUS Please, Jem, take them and go.
JEM (grimly determined) No, sir.
(The crowd is stirring with impatience.)
CROWD (muttering; angry) Had about enough – the kids are his worry – Can’t stand around all night – come on – get ‘em outa the way and –
(The last speaker is interrupted as SCOUT thinks she recognises a man in front)
SCOUT Mr Cunningham – that you? (Coming closer) Hey, Mr Cunningham.
(MR CUNNINGHAM does not reply. The others are watching. SCOUT is more confused.)
SCOUT Don’t you remember me? I’m Jean Louise Finch. You brought us a big bag of turnip greens, remember?
ATTICUS (perplexed) Scout –
SCOUT (struggling for recognition) I go to school with your boy, Walter. Well, he’s your boy, ain’t he? Ain’t he, sir?
(MR CUNNINGHAM is moved to a small nod. SCOUT is relieved)
SCOUT Knew he was your boy. Maybe he told you about me – because I beat him up one time – but he was real nice about it. Tell Walter ‘hey’ for me, won’t you?
(There is no reply. She tries harder to break through this baffling lack of response.)
SCOUT My father was telling me about your entailment. He said they’re bad.
(The lack of response is getting more disturbing.)
SCOUT Atticus – I was just sayin’ to Mr Cunningham that entailments are bad – but I remember you said not to worry – it takes long sometimes – but you’ll ride it out together.
(SCOUT has come to a stop, looking out at the silent men. She swallows.)
SCOUT What is it? Can’t anybody tell me? (A plea) Mr Cunningham – what’s the matter?
(Suddenly MR CUNNINGHAM puts his hand on both of SCOUT’S shoulders.)
MR CUNN. Ain’t nothin’ the matter, little lady. An’ I’ll tell my boy you said ‘hey’.
(With this, MR CUNNINGHAM straightened up and waves his hand.)
MR CUNN. (with authority) Let’s clear out of here, boys.
(There is a moment of hesitation.)
MR CUNN. (firmly) We’re goin’ home.
( With this, the men start moving off.)
JEM (hushed with astonishment) They’re goin’!
ATTICUS (a bit astonished himself) Looks that way.
SCOUT (going up to him) Atticus – can we go home now?
(ATTICUS takes out a handkerchief with which he wipes his face, and then blows his nose.)
ATTICUS (nodding) Yes. Looks like we can go home now.
(There is the sound of cars starting up and driving away. They look toward the sound.)
JEM I thought Mr Cunningham was a friend.
ATTICUS Still is. He just has his blind spots along with the rest of us.
JEM But he was ready to hurt you.
ATTICUS Because he was part of a mob. But a mob’s always made up of people, and Mr Cunningham’s still a man. What you children did – you made him remember that.
(A soft husky voice, that of TOM ROBINSON, calls from behind.)
TOM (from the darkness) Mr Finch?
(They turn toward the voice)
TOM They gone?
ATTICUS They’re gone, Tom. They won’t bother you any more.
TOM (voice only) Thank you, Mr Finch.
ATTICUS We’re going to have a busy time. Better get your sleep.
TOM (wryly humorous) You better get some sleep, too.
(ATTICUS smiles as he gathers his things together)
ATTICUS That’s my intention. Good night, Tom.
(DILL has come to ATTICUS.)
DILL (respectfully) Can I carry the chair for you, Mr Finch?
(ATTICUS considers this request then hands the folded chair to DILL.)
ATTICUS Why, thank you, son.
(DILL is deeply pleased.)
SCOUT (drained) I want to go home.
(ATICUS affectionately grips JEM’S shoulder with one hand and SCOUT’S with the other)
ATTICUS You two certainly don’t mind very well.
SCOUT (puzzled) Atticus – what was it you said we did to Mr Cunningham?
ATTICUS You made him stand in my shoes for a minute.
(With this, ATTICUS reaches up and turns out the light bulb, and in the darkness they exit.
Meanwhile, the only light on the stage is a dim spot on JEAN. As she speaks, the light comes up on the rest of the stage as the courtroom is set up.)
JEAN The following Monday, ATTICUS told us to stay home, and for a while we did. People were streaming into town like it was Saturday. Seemed like the whole county was coming for Tom Robinson’s trial.
(Members of the cast – or stagehands – are moving the basic props for the courtroom. The judge’s bench and chair and a witness chair. There is a bench for witnesses, a small table and chair, and another table with two chairs. As the scene is played, the jury is considered to be out in the audience. As JEAN continues, JUDGE TAYLOR takes his place behind the bench. HECK TATE sits in the witness chair. BOB EWELL and MAYELLA EWELL sit on the bench, while ATTICUS and TOM ROBINSON sit at the table, MR GILMER is standing to the side of the witness chair.
Spectators come on carrying small folding chairs which they set up and sit on to watch the trial: MISS CRAWFORD, MISS ATKINSON, NATHAN RADLEY and MR CUNNINGHAM. HELEN ROBINSON sits by herself and away from the white spectators.)
JEAN (continuing during the above) When Jem, Dill and I reached the courthouse square, we found it covered with picnic parties. Apparently, the trial was to be a gala occasion. There was no room at the public hitching rail – mules and wagons were parked under every available tree. People were washing down biscuit and syrup with warm milk from fruit jars. Some were gnawing on cold chicken and cold fried pork chops. In the far corner of the square, the Negroes sat quietly in the sun, dining on sardines and crackers. At some invisible signal, they all got up and started into the courthouse. We didn’t want Atticus to see us, so we waited. Then, there were no seats left. Reverend Sykes asked if we’d care to sit on the coloured side if the balcony. Jem said, ‘Gosh, yes’ and we went in with him.
(SCOUT, JEM and DILL are coming on during this with REVEREND SYKES, and they sit with HELEN ROBINSON. REVEREND SYKES gives her a reassuring pat, but she just stares forward.)
JEAN By the time we got there the trial was already started. The prosecutor, a Mr Gilmer from Abbottsville, was taking testimony from Heck Tate.
(JEAN steps offstage.)
MR GILMER In your own words, Mr Tate.
HECK (replying to MR GILMER) Well, I was called –
MR GILMER (motioning toward the audience) Could you say it to the jury, Mr Tate? Who called you?
HECK (turning toward he audience) I was fetched by Bob – by MR Bob Ewell yonder, one night.
MR GILMER What night, sir?
HECK The night of November twenty-first. I was leaving my office to go home when B – Mr Ewell came in, very excited he was, and said, get to his house quick, some N-Negro’d attacked his girl.
(REVEREND SYKES sighs. HELEN ROBINSON closes her eyes with pain.)
MR GILMER Did you go?
HECK Certainly. Got in the car and went out as fast as I could.
MR GILMER And what did you find?
HECK Found her lying on the floor. She was pretty well beat up, but I heaved her to her feet and she washed her face in the bucket, and she said she was all right.
MR GILMER go on.
HECK I asked her who hurt her and she said it was Tom Robinson.
(JUDGE TAYLOR looks to ATTICUS expecting an objection, but ATTICUS just gives a slight shake of his head. HECK takes a breath.)
HECK Asked her if he beat her up like that; she said, yes, he had. Asked her if he took advantage of her and she said, yes, he did. I went down to Robinson’s house and brought him back. She identified him as the one, so I took him in. That’s all there was to it.
MR GILMER (returning to his seat at the table) Thank you.
JUDGE TAY Any questions, Atticus?
(ATTICUS turns his chair to the side and crosses his legs.)
ATTICUS (leaning back) Yes. Did you call a doctor, Sheriff?
HECK No, sir.
ATTICUS (with a slight edge) Why not?
HECK It wasn’t necessary, Mr Finch. But she was mighty banged up.
ATTICUS And you didn’t –
JUDGE TAY (cutting in) He’s answered the question, Atticus.
ATTICUS (smiling) Just wanted to make sure, Judge. (Turning to HECK) Sheriff, you say she was mighty banged up. In what way? Just describe her injuries, Heck.
HECK There was already bruises comin’ on her arms, and she had a black eye startin’.
ATTICUS Which eye?
HECK Let’s see – her left.
ATTICUS Her left facing you, or her left looking the same way you were?
HECK (thinking about it) That’d make it her right. It was her right eye, Mr Finch. I remember now, she was banged up on that side of her face.
(ATTICUS looks at TOM, then back at HECK.)
ATTICU No – you said she was banged up on that side of her face. Which side?
HECK The right side.
(REVEREND SYKES and HELEN are whispering.)
ATTICUS That’s all, Heck.
(HECK steps down and walks over to the bench.)
MR GILMER (calling) Robert Ewell.
(BOB EWELL hops up and comes up to the witness chair. The COURT CLERK administers the oath.)
CLERK Swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
BOB EWELL (crowing) So help me God.
(MR GILMER nods toward the chair; EWELL sits.)
MR GILMER Mr Robert Ewell?
BOB EWELL That’s m’name, cap’n
(MR GILMER does not particularly like EWELL.)
MR GILMER Are you the father of Mayella Ewell.
BOB EWELL Well, if I ain’t , I can’t do anything about it now. Her ma’s dead.
JUDGE TAY (firmly) Are you the father of Mayella Ewell?
BOB EWELL (cowed) Yes, sir.
JUDGE TAY Get this straight. There will be no audibly obscene speculations on any subject from anybody in this courtroom. Do you understand?
JUDGE TAY All right, Mr Gilmer.
MR GILMER Thank you, sir. Mr Ewell, tell us what happened on the evening of November twenty-first.
BOB EWELL I was comin’ in from the woods with a load o’ kindlin’ and just as I got to the fence, I heard Mayella screamin’ like a stuck hog inside the house.
MR GILMER What time was it, Mr Ewell?
BOB EWELL Just ‘fore sundown. Well, I was sayin’, Mayella was screamin’ like –
(The JUDGE clears his throat, irritated, and BOB EWELL hesitates.)
MR GILMER (prodding) Yes? She was screaming?
BOB EWELL She was raising this holy racket so I dropped m’ load and run as fast as I could up to the window – and I seen – I seen –
(He gets up and points angrily at TOM ROBINSON.)
BOB EWELL I seen that black nigger yonder attackin’ my Mayella!
(There is a gasp from the spectators and a low moan from HELEN ROBINSON. MR GILMER is going up to the bench, where he speaks quietly to the JUDGE. REVEREND SYKES leans across to JEM.)
REV SYKES Mr Jem. Take Miss Jean Louise home. Mr Jem, you hear me?
JEM (turning to her) Scout – go home. Dill, you ‘n’ Scout go home.
SCOUT You can’t make me.
JEM (to REVEREND SYKES) I think it’s okay, Reverend. She doesn’t understand.
SCOUT I most certainly do. I can understand anything you can.
REV SYKES (disturbed) This ain’t fit for Miss Jean Louise – or you boys, either.
(REVEREND SYKES and the other spectators, talking excitedly o each other, are interrupted by JUDGE TAYLOR, who is banging his gavel for attention.)
JUDGE TAY Quiet! There has been a request that this courtroom be cleared of spectators, or at least of women and children – a request that for the time being will be denied. People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for. And they have the right to make whatever decisions they consider best for their children. You may feel there’s something here to be learned. Or you may decide you do not wish to face this problem. It’s up to you to make the decision. I suggest you do it right now. I’m interrupting this trail for a ten-minute recess.
(The JUDGE bangs the gavel and rises. As he does, the curtain falls.)
END OF ACT ONE
(Revealed is the trial scene with everyone back in place after the short recess declared by JUDGE TAYLOR. BOB EWELL is in the witness stand, MR GILMER stands near him waiting, ATTICUS sits at his table with TOM ROBINSON, and the spectators are seated, as before.)
JUDGE TAY (looking about; dryly) I see we still have a few with us. Well, let’s get on.
(He raps casually with his gavel and turns to EWELL.)
JUDGE TAY Mr Ewell, you will keep your testimony within the confines of Christian English usage, if that’s possible. (Nods) Proceed, Mr Gilmer.
MR GILMER (uneasily) Where we were – we were –
JUDGE TAY (to the point) Mr Ewell, did you see the defendant attacking your daughter?
BOB EWELL Yes, I did.
MR GILMER (to the JUDGE) Thank you, sir. (To EWELL) You said you were at the window?
BOB EWELL Yes, sir.
MR GILMER Did you have a clear view of the room?
BOB EWELL Yes, sir.
MR GILMER How did the room look?
BOB EWELL All slung about, like there was a fight.
MR GILMER What did you do when you saw the defendant?
BOB EWELL I run around the house to get in, but he run out the front door just ahead of me. I sawed who he was, but I was too distracted about Mayella to run after him. Mayella was in there squallin’, so I run in the house.
MR GILMER Then what did you do?
BOB EWELL I run for Heck Tate quick as I could. I knowed who it was all right, passed the house every day, lived down yonder in that nigger-nest. (Turning to the JUDGE) Jedge, I’ve asked this county for fifteen years to clean out that nest down yonder. They’re dangerous to live around. (Speaking as a ‘put-upon’ citizen) ‘Sides devaluin’ my property.
MR GLIMER (wincing; hurriedly) That’s all. Thank you, Mr Ewell.
(Well satisfied with himself, EWELL hops down, smiling as he goes. He bumps into ATTICUS, who is approaching. There is a stir of amusement which EWELL construes as approval.)
ATTICUS (meanwhile; genially) Just a minute, sir. Could I ask you a question or two?
(EWELL darts a glance at the JUDGE, who nods his head toward the witness chair.)
BOB EWELL (going back) Sure – go ahead.
ATTICUS Thank you, Mr. Ewell. Folks were doing a lot of running that night. Let’s see, you say you ran to the house, you ran to the window, you ran inside, you ran for Mr. Tate. Did you, during all this running, run for a doctor?
BOB EWELL Wadn’t no need to.
ATTICUS Didn’t you think the nature of daughter’s injuries warranted immediate medical attention?
BOB EWELL Never called a doctor in my life. If I had, would’ve cost me five dollars. That all the questions?
ATTICUS Not quite. Mr. Ewell, you heard the sheriff’s testimony, didn’t you?
BOB EWELL (deciding it is safe to answer) Yes.
ATTICUS Do you agree with his description of Mayella’s injuries? Her right eye blackened, that she was beaten around the-
BOB EWELL Yeah. I hold with everything Tate said.
ATTICUS He said her right eye was blackened.
BOB EWELL I holds with Tate.
ATTICUS Mr. Ewell, can you read and write?
MR GILMER Objection. Can’t see what witness’s literacy has to do with the case, irrelevant ‘n’ immaterial
ATTICUS (quickly) judge, if you’ll allow the question, plus another one, you’ll soon see.
JUDGE TAYLOR All right. But make sure we see, Atticus. (To MR GILMER) Overruled.
ATTICUS (to EWELL) Will you write your name and show us?
BOB EWELL I most positively will. How do you think I sign my relief checks?
(There is an amused stir among the spectators. ATTICUS is taking an envelope from his pocket and then unscrewing his fountain pen.)
SCOUT (while this is happening; a worried whisper) Jem – do you think Atticus knows what he’s doin’?
JEM (uncertainly) Seems like he knows.
SCOUT Far back as I c’n remember, he said never, never, never, never ask a question on cross-examination unless you already know the answer.
JEM (he remembers, too) ‘Cause you might get an answer that’ll wreck your case.
SCOUT (watching again; nervously) Looks to me like he’s gone frog-sticking without a light.
(ATTICUS has presented the envelope to BOB EWELL, shaken the fountain pen given him that, too.)
ATTICUS Would you write your name for us? Clearly now, so the jury can see you do it.
(With a flourish, EWELL finishes writing his name.)
MR GILMER (curiously) What’s so interestin’?
JUDGE TAY He’s left-handed
ATTICUS (nodding) That’s it.
BOB EWELL (outraged) What’s my bein’ left-handed have anything to so with it? (TO JUDGE TAYLOR) He’s tryin’ to take advantage of me. Ticking lawyers like Atticus Finch take advantage of me all the time with their tricking ways. But it don’t change what I saw, and I’ll say it again – I saw that nigger –
ATTICUS That’s all, Mr Ewell.
(The furious little man is stalking back to his seat.)
JEM (meanwhile) I think we’ve got him.
SCOUT Don’t count your chickens.
DILL (hushed, eager) Her right eye was blackened so it had to be someone left-handed.
SCOUT (hushed in reply) Maybe Tom Robinson’s left-handed.
MR GILMER (calling) Mayella Violet Ewell.
(As MAYELLA approaches, the COURT CLERK administers the oath.)
CLERK Swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
MAYELLA (nodding; softly) Yes.
MR GILMER Please tell the jury in your own words what happened on the evening of November twenty-first.
(MAYELLA does not reply.)
MR GILMER Where were you at dusk on hat evening?
MAYELLA On the porch.
MR GILMER (trying to prod her along) What were you doing on the porch?
JUDGE TAY Just tell us what happened. You can do that, can’t you?
(MAYELLA whispers something to him from behind her hand.)
JUDGE TAY What was that?
MAYELLA (pointing at ATTICUS) Him. Don’t wan him doin’ me like he done Papa, makin’ him out left-handed.
JUDGE TAY (perplexed) how old are you?
MAYELLA Nineteen and a half.
JUDGE TAY I see. Well, Mr Finch has no idea of scaring you, and if he did, I’m here to stop him. Now sit up straight and tell us what happened.
(MAYELLA takes a breath, and starts nervously.)
MAYELLA Well – I was on the porch and – and h came and, you see there wa this old chiffarobe in the yard Papa’d brought in to chop up for kindlin’ Papa told me to do it while he was off in the woods, but I wasn’t feelin’ strong enough then, so he came by –
MR GILMER Who is ‘he’?
MAYELLA That’n yonder. Robinson.
MR GILMER Then what happened?
MAYELLA I said, come here, boy, and bust up this chifforobe for me, I gotta nickel for you. So he come in the yard an’I went in the house to het him the nickel. An’ ‘fore I knew it, he was at me. He got me ‘round the neck. I fought but he hit me agin and agin.
(As MAYELLA collects herself)
MR GILMER Go on.
MAYELLA An’ he took advantage of me.
MR GILMER Did you scream and fight back?
MAYELLA Kicked and hollered loud as I could.
MR GILMER Then what happened?
MAYELLA Don’t remember too good, but Papa came in the room and was hollerin’ who done it? Then I sorta fainted, an’ the next thing I knew Mr Tate was helpin’ me over to the water bucket.
MR GILMER You fought Robinson hard as you could – tooth and nail?
MAYELLA I positively did.
MR GILMER But he took advantage of you?
MAYELLA (holding back a sob) I already told ya.
MR GILMER That’s all for now. But stay here. I expect big, bad Mr Finch has some questions.
JUDGE TAY (primly) State will not prejudice the witness against councel for the defence.
(ATTICUS, smiling, has risen. He opens his coat, hooks his thumbs in his vest ad without looking directly at MAYELLA, speaks to her casually to her.)
ATTICUS Miss Mayella, I won’t try to scare for a while, not yet. Let’s gat acquainted. How old are you?
MAYELLA Said I was nineteen, said to the judge yonder.
ATTICUS You’ll have to bear with me, Miss Mayella. I can’t remember as well as I used to. I might ask you things you’ve already said before, but you’ll give me an answer, won’t you? Good.
MAYELLA Won’t answer a word as long as you keep on mockin’ me.
ATTICUS (startled) Ma’am?
MAYELLA Long as you call me ‘ma-am’ and say ‘Miss Mayella.’ (To JUDGE TAYLOR.) I don’t have to take his sass.
JUDGE TAY That’s just Mr Finch’s way. We’ve done business in this court for years and Mr Finch is always courteous. Atticus, let’s get on – and let the record show that the witness has not been sassed.
ATTICUS How many sisters and brothers have you?
ATTICUS You the oldest?
ATTICUS How long has you mother been dead?
MAYELLA Don’t know. Long time.
ATTICUS How long did you go to school?
MAYELLA Two years – three year – dunno.
ATTICUS Miss Mayella, a nineteen-year-old girl must have friends. Who are your friends
MAYELLA (puzzled) Friends?
ATTICUS Don’t you know anyone near your age? Boys – girls – just ordinary friends?
MAYELLA (angry) Yon makin’ fun o’ me again, Mr Finch?
ATTICUS Do you love your father, Miss Mayella?
MAYELLA Love him, whatcha mean?
ATTICUS Is he good to you, is he easy to get along with?
MAYELLA He does tollable ‘cept when –
ATTICUS Except when?
MAYELLA I said he does tollable.
ATTICUS (gently) Except when he’s drinking?
(The question is asked so gently that in spite of herself, MAYELLA nods.)
ATTICUS When he’s riled – has he ever beaten you?
(MAYELLA looks around, startled.)
JUDGE TAY Answer the question, Miss Mayella.
MAYELLA My paw’s never touched a hair o’ my head –
(ATTICUS considers her a moment.)
ATTICUS We’ve had a good visit, Miss Mayella. Now we’d better get to the case. You asked Tom Robinson to come chop up a – what was it?
MAYELLA A chiffaroe, a old dresser.
ATTICUS Was Tom Robinson well known to you?
MAYELLA Whaddya mean?
ATTICUS Did you know who he was, where he lived?
MAYELLA (nodding) I knowed who he was. He passed the house every day.
ATTICUS (turning away; casually) Was this the first time you asked hom to come inside the fence?
(MAYELLA jumps, looking about nervously.)
ATTICUS Was this –
MAYELLA Yes, it was.
ATTICUS Didn’t you ever ask him to come inside the fence before?
MAYELLA (ready now) I did not. I certainly did not.
ATTICUS (serenely) You never asked him to do odd jobs for you before?
MAYELLA (conceding) I mighta.
ATTICUS Can you remember any other occasions?
ATTICUS (firmer) All right, now to what happened. You said Tom Robinson got you around the neck – is that right?
ATTICUS You say – ‘he caught me and chocked me and took advantage of me’ – is that right?
MAYELLA That’s what I said.
ATTICUS Do you remember him beating you about the face?
ATTICUS You’re sure enough he chocked you. All this time you were fighting back, remember? You kicked and hollered. Do you remember him beating you about the face?
(MAYELLA is looking about, uncertain how to reply.)
ATTICUS It’s an easy question, Miss Mayella, so I’ll try again. Do you remember him beating you about the face?
MAYELLA No, I don’t recollect if he hit me. I mean, yes, I do, he hit me.
ATTICUS Was you last sentence your answer?
MAYELLA Yes, he hit – I just don’t remember – it all happened so quick!
JUDGE TAY Don’t you cry, young woman.
ATTICUS Let her cry if she wants to, Judge. We’ve got all the time in the world.
MAYELLA (sniffing wrathfully) Get me up here an’ mock me, will you? I’ll answer any questions you got.
ATTICUS That’s fine. There’s only a few more. Will you identify the man who attacked you?
MAYELLA I will. That’s him yonder.
ATTICUS Tom, stand up. Let Miss Mayella have a good look at you. Is this the man, Miss Mayella?
(TOM stands. He is a powerful young man, but his left hand is curled up and held to his chest.)
JEM (hushed) Scout – Reverend – his left hand! He’s crippled.
REV SYKES (whispering) Caught in a cotton gin when he was a boy – like to bled to death. Tore all the muscles loose.
ATTICUS Is this the man who attacked you?
MAYELLA It most certainly is.
ATTICUS (hard) How?
MAYELLA (raging) I don’t know how, but he did. I said it all happened so fast I –
ATTICUS Let’s consider this calmly.
MR GILMER Objection. He’s browbeating the witness.
JUDGE TAY Oh, sit down, Horace.
ATTICUS Miss Mayella, you’ve testified the defendant chocked and beat you. You didn’t say he sneaked up behind you and knocked you cold. Do you wish to reconsider any of your testimony?
MAYELLA You want me to say something that didn’t happen.
ATTICUS No, ma’am, I want you to say something that did happen.
MAYELLA I already told ya.
ATTICUS He hit you? He blacked you left eye with his right fist?
MAYELLA (seeing the point) I ducked and it – it glanced. That’s what it did. I ducked and it glanced off.
ATTICUS You’re a strong girl. Why didn’t you run?
MAYELLA Tried to –
ATTICUS And you were screaming all this time?
MAYELLA I certainly was.
ATTICUS Why didn’t the other children hear you? Where were they?
(MAYELLA makes no reply.)
ATTICUS Why didn’t your screams make them come running?
(MAYELLA makes no reply.)
ATTICUS Did you scream at your father instead of Tom Robinson? Is that it?
(MAYELLA makes no reply.)
ATTICUS Who beat you up? Tom Robinson or your father?
(MAYELLA makes no reply.)
ATTICUS Miss Mayella – what did your father really see in that window?
(MAYELLA covers her mouth with her hands.)
ATTICUS Why don’t you tell the truth, child – didn’t Bob Ewell beat you up?
(With this, ATTICUS turns away, and lets out a breath. He looks a little as though his stomach hurts. MAYELLA’S face is a mixture of terror and fury.)
MAYELLA (gasping a quick breath and calling out) I – I got somethin’ to say.
(ATTICUS walks back and sits wearily at the table.)
ATTICUS (with compassion) Do you want to tell us what happened?
MAYELLA I got somethin’ to say an’ then I ain’t gonna say no more. That black man yonder took advantage of me an’ if you fine fancy gentlemen don’t wanta do nothin’ about it then you’re all yellow stinkin’ cowards, stinkin’ cowards, the lot of you. Your fancy airs don’t come to nothin’ – your ma’amin’ and Miss Mayerllerin’ don’t come to nothin’, Mr Finch.
(MAYELLA covers her face with her hands to hold back her sobs.)
MR GILMER That’s all. (Helping her out of the witness chair) You can step down now.
(As MAYELLA continues on to the bench to sit with her father, MR GILMER turns to JUDGE TAYLOR.)
MR GILMER Sir – the State rests
JUDGE TAY Shall we try to wind up this afternoon? How about it, Atticus?
ATTICUS I think we can.
JUDGE TAY How many witnesses you got?
JUDGE TAY Well, call him.
ATTICUS (rising) I call Tom Robinson.
(TOM rises and walks towards the witness chair. The COURT CLERK holds the bible to him. TOM cannot put his crippled left hand on the bible, so he touches it with his right.)
TOM Sorry, sir.
JUDGE TAY That’s alright, Tom.
CLERK Do you swear the evidence you’re about to give us is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
TOM (nodding) I swear. (TOM is motioned into the witness chair and he sits quietly and, naturally, afraid.)
ATTICUS You’re Tom Robinson, twenty-five years of age, married with three children, and you’ve been in trouble with the law once before. A thirty-day sentence for disorderly conduct. What did that consist of?
TOM Got in a fight with another man. He tried to cut me. But it wasn’t much. Not enough to hurt.
ATTICUS You were both convicted?
TOM (nodding) I had to serve ‘cause I couldn’t pay the fine. The other fellow paid his’n.
ATTICUS Were you acquainted with Mayella Violet Ewell?
TOM Yes, sir. I had to pass her place goin’ to and from the field everyday.
ATTICUS who’s field?
TOM I work for Mr Link Deas.
ATTICUS You pass the Ewell place to get to work. Is there any other way to go?
TOM No, sir, non’s I know of.
ATTICUS Tom, did she ever speak to you?
TOM Why, yes, sir. I’d tip m’hat when I’d go by and one day she asked me to come inside the fence and bust up a chiffarobe?
ATTICUS When did she ask you to chop up the – the chiffarobe?
TOM Mr Finch, it was way last spring. After it broke up she said ‘I reckon I’ll hafta give you a nickel, won’t I’ an’ I said, ‘No, ma’am, there ain’t no charge.’ Then I went home. That was way over a year ago.
ATTICUS Did you ever go on the place again?
TOM Yes, sir.
TOM I went there lots of times.
(There is a murmur among the spectators, and JUDGE TAYLOR raps his gavel without comment.)
ATTICUS Under what circumstances?
(TOM does not quite understand.)
ATTICUS Why did you go inside the fence lots of times?
TOM She’d call me in. Seemed like every time I passes by yonder, she’d have somethin’ for me to do – choppin’ kindlin’, totin’ water for her.
ATTICUS Where were the other children?
TOM They were always around, all over the place.
ATTICUS Would Miss Mayella talk to you?
TOM Yes, sir, she talked to me.
ATTICUS Did you ever – at any time – go on the Ewell property – did you ever set foot on the Ewell property without an express invitation from one of them?
TOM No, sir, Mr Finch, I never did. I wouldn’t do that, sir.
ATTICUS Tom, what happened to you on the evening of November twenty-first?
(The spectators draw in a collective breath and lean forward.)
TOM Mr Finch, I was goin’ home as usual that evening’, and when I passed the Ewell place, Miss Mayella were on the porch, like she said she were. It seemed real quiet like, an’ I didn’t quite know why. She called to me to come there and help her a minute. Well, I went inside the fence an’ looked for some kindlin’ to work on, but I didn’t see none, and she says ‘Naw, I got somethin’ for you t do in the house. Th’ old door’s off it’s hinges.’ I said you got a screwdriver, Miss Mayella? She said she had. Well, I went up the steps and she motioned for me to come inside. (Taking a breath) I went in an’ looked at ther door. I said Miss Mayella, this door look all right. Those hinges was all right. Then she shet the door. Mr Finch, I was wonderin’ why it was so quirt like, ‘n it come to me that there weren’t a chile on the place, not one of ‘em, an’ I said Miss Mayella, where the chillun?
(TOM pauses to run his hand over her face.)
ATTICUS (quietly) Go on Tom.
TOM I say where the chillun, an’ she says – she was laughin’ sort of – she says they all gone to town to get ice creams. She says, ‘Took me a slap year to save seb’m nickels, but I done it. They all gone to town.’
(Intensely uncomfortable and shifting in his seat, TOM stops.)
ATTICUS Tom, what did you say then?
TOM (taking a breath) I said somethin’ like, why Miss Mayella, that’s right smart o’ you to treat ‘em. An she said ‘You think so?’ I don’t think she understood what I was thinkin’ – I meant it was smart of her to save like that, an’ nice of her to treat ‘em.
ATTICUS I understand. Go on.
TOM I said I best be goin’, I couldn’t do nothin’ for her, an’ she says oh yes I could, an’ I ask her what, an’ she says to just step on that chair yonder an’ git that box down from on top of the chiffarobe.
ATTICUS Not the same one you busted up?
TOM (smiling) No, sir, another one. Most as tall as the room. So I done what she told me, an’ I was just reachin’ when she – she grabbed me round the legs, Mr Finch. She scared me so bad I hopped down an’ turned the chair over – that was the only thing, only furniture ‘sturbed in that room, Mr Finch, when I left it. I swear ‘fore God.
ATTICUS What happened after you turned the chair over?
(TOM has come to a sop, looking about the room nervously.)
ATTICUS Tom, you’ve sworn to tell the whole truth.
(TOM still hesitates.)
ATTICUS (prodding) What happened after that?
JUDGE TAYLOR Answer the question.
TOM When I got down offa that chair, she sorta – jumped at me.
ATTICUS Jumped? Violently?
TOM No, sir, she – she hugged me. She hugged me round the waist.
(There’s a growing murmur as the spectators react to each other at this. It is cut short by JUDGE TAYLOR’S gavel.)
ATTICUS Tom – what did she do them?
TOM (swallowing hard) She says she never had her arms round a grown man before, an’ she might as well start with me. She says ‘Hug me back.’ I say Miss Mayella lemme outa here an’ I tried to run but she got her back to the door an’ I’da had to push her. I didn’t wanta harm her, Mr Finch, an’ I say lemme pass, but just when I say it Mr Ewell yonder hollered through th’ window.
ATTICUS What did he say?
TOM Somethin’ not fittin’ to say – not fittin’ for these folks ‘n’ chillun to hear.
ATTICUS Tom, you must tell the jury what he said.
TOM (shutting his eyes) He says you damn slut, I’ll kill ya.
ATTICUS Then what happened?
TOM (shutting his eyes again; unhappily) I was runnin’ so fast, Mr Finch, I didn’t know what happened.
ATTICUS Tom, did you attack Mayella Ewell?
TOM I did not, sir.
ATTICUS Did you harm her in any way?
TOM I did not.
ATTICUS Did you resist her advances?
TOM Mr Finch, I tried to ‘thout bein’ ugly to her. I didn’t wanta be ugly. I didn’t wanta push her or nothin’.
ATTICUS Let’s go back to Mr Ewell. Who was he talking to?
TOM He were talkin’ and lookin’ at Miss Mayella.
ATTICUS Then you ran.
TOM I sure did.
ATTICUS Why did you run?
TOM I was scared, sir.
ATTICUS Why were you scared?
TOM Mr Finch, if you was black like me, you’d be scared, too.
(ATTICUS nods agreement with this, turns to MR GILMER as though saying ‘Your witness,’ and goes back to his chair. MR GILMER is rising and moving toward TOM. As this happens a VOICE calls in – apparently from the spectators, but actually offstage.)
VOICE I want the whole lot of you know one thing right now. Tom Robinson’s worked for me eight years an’ I ain’t had a speck o’ trouble outa him. Not a speck.
JUDGE TAY (rapping angrily with his gavel) That’s enough. Link Deas. If you have anything to say, you can say it under oath and at the proper time. (To the jury) You’re to disregard the remark from Link Deas. (Turning to MR GILMER) Go ahead, Mr Gilmer.
MR GILMER You were given thirty days for disorderly conduct, Robinson?
ATTICUS (from his chair) It was a misdemeanour and it’s in the record, Judge.
JUDGE TAY Witness’ll answer, though.
TOM Yes, sir. I got thirty days.
(MR GILMER looks significantly at the jury – the audience – then turns back to TOM.)
MR GILMER You’re pretty good at busting up chiffarobes and kindling with one hand, aren’t you?
TOM Yes, sir, I reckon so.
MR GILMER Strong enough to choke the breath out of a woman.
TOM I never done that, sir.
MR GILMER But you’re strong enough?
TOM I reckon so, sir.
MR GILMER Had your eye on her for a long time, hadn’t you, boy?
TOM No, sir, I never looked at her.
MR GILMER Then you were mighty polite to do all that chopping and hauling for her, weren’t you, boy?
TOM I was just tryin’ to help her out, sir.
MR GILMER That was mighty generous of you. Why were you so anxious to do that woman’s chores?
TOM (hesitating) Looked like she didn’t have nobody to help her.
MR GILMER With Mr Ewell and seven children on the place, boy?
TOM Well, I says it looked like they never help her none.
MR GILMER You did all this chopping and work from sheer goodness, boy?
TOM Just tried to help her.
MR GILMER You’re a mighty good fellow, it seems – did all this for not one penny.
TOM Yes, sir. I felt right sorry for her. She seemed to try more’n the rest of ‘em.
MR GILMER (he has got him) You felt sorry for her! You felt sorry for her!
(The spectators are shifting uncomfortably at this.)
MR GILMER (to the jury) He felt sorry for her. (Turning back to TOM) Now you went by the house as usual last November twenty-first and she asked you to come in and bust up the chiffarobe?
TOM No, sir.
MR GILMER Do you deny you went by the house?
TOM No, sir.
MR GILMER She says she asked you to bust up the chiffarobe. Is that right?
TOM No, sir, it ain’t.
MR GILMER (his tone is dangerous) You say she’s lying, boy?
(ATTICUS is rising to protest, but TOM handles the question.)
TOM I don’t say she’s lying, Mr Gilmer. I say she’s mistaken in her mind.
(ATTICUS sits again. The light on the court scene begins to dim except for a spot light on SCOUT, JEM and DILL, who is increasingly upset.)
MR GILMER (his tone rougher) Tell me, boy. Why did you run away?
TOM I was scared, sir.
MR GILMER If you had a clear conscience, boy, why were you scared?
TOM Like I says before, it weren’t safe for any black man to be in a – fix like that.
MR GILMER (sarcastically) But you weren’t in a fix. You testified you were resisting her advances. Were you scared she might hurt you – a big fellow like you?
TOM No, sir. I was scared I’d be in court, just like I am now.
MR GILMER (his voice rising) Scared you’d had to face up to what you did.
TOM No, sir. Scared I’d have to face up to what I didn’t do.
MR GILMER You bein’ impudent to me, boy?
TOM I didn’t go to be.
(The light on the court scene has now dimmed, but a spot of light remains on SCOUT, JEM and DILL. DILL has been so upset, he is not able to keep from crying. He is trying to disguise it, but JEM is aware of it.)
JEM Scout – go with Dill. Better take him outa here.
SCOUT ‘S the matter with him?
REV SYKES Might be a little thin-hided. I think you should go with him, Miss Jean Louise.
SCOUT (getting up, but resentful) Why me?
DILL (with an effort) I’m okay.
SCOUT (taking his hand) C’mon.
(As DILL and SCOUT go, the light behind them dims.)
SCOUT The heat got you? Ain’t you feeling good?
DILL (getting himself in hand) Said I was okay.
SCOUT Wanta see something?
(As DILL nods, SCOUT takes something from her pocket.)
SCOUT Look at these.
DILL (examining them) Two little statues – carved outa soap. Looks like a boy and a girl.
SCOUT Got ‘em from the knothole in the Radley tree.
(DILL looks from the little figures to SCOUT.)
DILL Girl one could be you. Maybe the boy’s Jem. Who carved ‘em, you reckon?
SCOUT (shrugging) They was in the Radley tree.
(JEAN comes on stage.)
DILL (considering) I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley stays shut up in that house – it’s because he wants to stay inside.
SCOUT That don’t make any sense.
JEAN (speaking to SCOUT) Oh, yes, it does.
SCOUT (apparently not aware of JEAN, but reacting to what she said; conceding) Well, maybe.
DILL (agreeing with her last comment) Maybe he found out the way people can go outa their way to despise each other. (Almost a cry) Why’d Mr Gilmer have to do Tom Robinson that-away? Why’d he talk so hateful?
SCOUT Dill, that’s his job.
DILL But he didn’t have to sneer, and call him ‘boy’.
SCOUT That’s just Mr Gilmer’s way. They do all defendants that way, most lawyers, I mean.
DILL Mr Finch doesn’t.
SCOUT He’s not an example, Dill, he’s – well, the same in the courtroom as he is at home – or on the street.
(DILL nods patiently, making SCOUT speak with a slight edge.)
SCOUT Might be better if Atticus was a little more – if he was –
DILL (exasperated) Don’t you realise yet – your father’s not a run-of-the-mill man.
SCOUT (dubiously) Most people –
DILL (cutting in with a snort) Whatta you care about most people?
JEAN (smiling) You’re expecting a lot from a very young girl, Dill.
DILL (not noticing JEAN; speaking to SCOUT) Maybe when you’re older – when you’ve seen more of the world – this town even!
SCOUT (not liking Dill’s superiority) If you’ve got over your cryin’ fit, I guess I can take you back in.
DILL Wasn’t a cryin’ fit. (Going with her) Just didn’t like the way Mr Gilmer –
(SCOUT and DILL return to their seats.)
SCOUT (with whispered superiority) That’s because you don’t understand about the law.
(The light is coming up on the trial area with everyone seated except ATTICUS, who stands by his table.)
JEAN (thoughtfully, as the light is coming up) For an instant Scout and I were almost together. I expect there’s a little of the older woman already in every young girl – but they’re not in touch very often. (Considering the trial) We only seem to grow up at special times – such as the time I walked back into that courthouse.
(SCOUT punches JEM for attention.)
SCOUT His speech to the jury?
SCOUT How long’s he been at it?
JEM Just finished going over the evidence. An’ Scout – we’re gonna win! I don’t see how we can’t!
DILL (suspiciously) Did that Mr Gilmer –
JEM Nothin’ new. Just the usual. Hush now.
(ATTICUS, who as paused by the table, has been unbuttoning his vest, unbuttoning his collar, and loosening his tie.)
ATTICUS (looking up at the JUDGE) With the court’s permission?
(JUDGE TAYLOR nods, and ATTICUS takes off his coat and vest and puts them on his chair.)
JEM (startled) Never saw him do that before.
SCOUT (equally impressed) Me either.
(They are all leaning forward. ATTICUS looks directly out to the audience which is where the imaginary jury sits.)
ATTICUS (still at his table) Gentlemen, this case is not a difficult one, it requires no minute sifting of complicated facts. This case is as simple as black and white.
(ATTICUS moves slowly to the front of the stage.)
ATTICUS The state has not produced one iota of evidence that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place. It has relied instead upon the testimony of two witnesses – witnesses whose testimony has not only been called into serious question on cross-examination, but has been flatly contradicted by the defendant.
(ATTICUS looks back a MAYELLA.)
ATTICUS I have nothing but pity in my heart for the chief witness for the state. But my pity does not extend to her putting a man’s life at stake. And this is what she’s done – done it in an effort to get rid of her guilt! I say guilt, because it was guilt that motivated her. She committed no crime, but she broke a rigid code of our society, a code so severe that whoever breaks it is hounded from our midst as unfit to live with. She’s the victim of cruel poverty and ignorance, but she knew full well the enormity of her offence and she persisted in it.
(ATTICUS pauses and takes a breath.)
ATTICUS She persisted and her subsequent reaction is something every child has done – she tried to put the evidence of her offence away, out of sight. What was the evidence? Not a stolen toy to be hidden. The evidence that must be destroyed is Tom Robinson, a human being. Tom Robinson, a daily reminder of what she did. What did she do? She tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable. She’s white and she tempted a Negro. Not an old uncle, but a strong, young black man. No code mattered to her before she broke it – but it came crashing down on her afterwards! Her father saw what happened. And what did he do?
(ATTICUS looks at EWELL.)
ATTICUS There is circumstantial evidence to the effect that Mayella Ewell was beaten savagely by someone who led almost exclusively with his left hand.
(EWELL rises, fists clenched.)
BOB EWELL (furious) Damn you ta –
(JUDGE TAYLOR raps sharply for order, and HECK TATE motions EWELL down while ATTICUS watches, unimpressed.)
ATTICUS Then Mr Ewell swore out a warrant, no doubt signing it with his left hand, and Tom Robinson now sits before you, having taken the oath with the only good hand he possesses – his right hand!
BOB EWELL (back on his feet; raging) You trickin’ lyin’ –
JUDGE TAY (rapping hard; angry) Shut your mouth, sir, or you’ll be fined for contempt!
(EWELL is forced back into his seat by HECK TATE.)
ATTICUS So a quiet, respectable Negro man who had the unmitigated temerity to feel sorry for a white woman is on trial for his life. He’s had to put his word against his two white accusers. I need not remind you of their conduct here in court – their cynical confidence that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption – the evil assumption – that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral, an assumption one associates with minds of their calibre. However, you know the truth – and the truth is, some Negroes lie, and some Negro men are not to be trusted around women – black or white. And so with some white men. This is a truth that applies to the entire human race, and to no particular race.
(ATTICUS pauses to clean his glasses with his handkerchief, speaking in a casual, lower key as he does so.)
ATTICUS In this year of grace, 1935, we’re beginning to hear more and more references to Thomas Jefferson’s phrase about all men being created equal. But we know hat all men are not created equal – in the sense that some men are smarter than others, some have more opportunity because they’re born with it, some men make more money, some ladies make better cakes, some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope –
(ATTICUS puts his glasses back on. Speaking directly to the audience, he comes all the way down to the front of the stage. His manner has changed and he is speaking with controlled passion.)
ATTICUS But there’s only one way in which all men are created equal. There’s one human institution that makes the pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein. That institution, gentlemen, is a court of law. In our courts – all men are created equal.
(ATTICUS looks out at the imaginary jury for a moment and then continues, totally committed.)
ATTICUS I’m no idealist to believe so firmly in the integrity of our courts and in the jury system – that’s no ideal to me, it is a living, working reality. But a court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up.
(ATTICUS pauses to take a breath.)
ATTICUS I’m confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence you’ve heard, come to a decision and restore this defendant to his family. In the name of God, do your duty!
(ATTICUS continues to look toward the front of the stage for a moment, then turns, walks back, and sits at the table with TOM ROBINSON. Nothing else happens on the stage until ATTICUS is seated. Then SCOUT reaches across and punches JEM.)
SCOUT Did he say somethin’ else? As he was walkin’ back?
JEM I think he said – In the name of God, believe him!
(DILL tugs at SCOUT and JEM.)
DILL (pointing) Looka yonder!
(CALPURNIA, carefully dressed, is coming shyly into the trial area. She pauses, waiting for recognition.)
JUDGE TAY (becoming aware of her) It’s Calpurnia, isn’t it?
CALPURNIA Yes, sir. Could I speak to Mr Finch, please, sir? It hasn’t got anything to do with – with the trial.
JUDGE TAY (nodding) Of course.
(ATTICUS is crossing over to her.)
ATTICUS (concerned) What is it, Cal?
(CALPURNIA is whispering to him quickly, and ATTICUS turns to JUDGE TAYLOR.)
ATTICUS Judge – she says my children are missing, haven’t turned up since noon. I – could you –
MS STEPH (calling) They’re up here, Atticus – (nodding) Yonder.
ATTICUS (calling) Jem – Scout – come down. Meet me outside.
(ATTICUS crosses to JUDGE TAYLOR and whispers something. The JUDGE nods, and ATTICUS crosses over to the children with CALPURNIA following. The light on the trial area dims. Meanwhile, JEM, SCOUT and DILL are coming over.)
SCOUT (to JEM) Is he mad?
JEM (shrugging) We’ll find out.
(ATTICUS, exhausted, is approaching them, followed by the outraged CALPURNIA. The light on the trial area is now quite dim, though there is still a little light on the patient spectators.)
SCOUT (calling to him as he comes) Hey, Atticus.
JEM (excitedly) We’ve won, haven’t we, Atticus?
ATTICUS (shortly) I’ve no idea. You’ve been here all afternoon?
ATTICUS Well, go home with Calpurnia and stay home.
JEM Aw, Atticus. Please let us hear the verdict.
ATTICUS Have you done your reading today for Mrs Dubose?
JEM Not today. Please, sir. We –
ATTICUS Tell you what- you read Mrs Dubose, eat your supper, and then Cal can bring you back.
CALPURNIA (protesting) Sir?
ATTICUS They’ve heard it all up to now! They might as well hear the rest.
DILL Suppose the jury comes back before –
ATTICUS Probably will. They might be out and back in a minute.
JEM You think they’ll acquit him that fast?
ATTICUS (quietly) Go do your reading, eat your supper, and if the jury is still out when you get back, you can wait up there with Cal and hear the verdict. (Deeply appreciative) Thank you, Cal.
(ATTICUS turns and walks off into the darkness of the trial area.
JEAN is coming on stage and the remaining light on the stage is dimming except for that on her. As the light on them is dimming, CALPURNIA starts to herd JEM, SCOUT and DILL offstage.)
CALPURNIA (indignantly) I should skin every one of you alive! The very idea – you children listening to all that! Mister Jem, don’t you know better ‘n to take your little sister to that trial? As for you, Mister Dill, you watch out your aunt doesn’t ship you back to Meridian first thing in the mornin’! You oughta be perfectly ashamed of yourselves!
(The light on them should have dimmed by now.)
JEAN Calpurnia didn’t stop expressing her outrage all the way home. When Jem ran over to read to Mrs Dubose, Cal worked over Dill and me.
(The light begins coming up again, revealing the same group, but they have now turned around and are heading back, with CALPURNIA following.)
JEAN And she was still upset as we finished supper and started back to the trail – wondering what on earth we’d find.
CALPURNIA (her voice dropping as they get closer) Thought you was gettin’ some kinda head on your shoulders, Mister Jem. Ain’t you got any sense at all?
JEM Don’t you want to hear what happened?
CALPURNIA (an angry whisper as they go to their seats) Hush your mouth, sir. If Mr Finch don’t wear you out I will!
DILL (looking to the front of he stage with glad surprise) The jury’s still out!
JEM (looking about as he sits) Nobody’s moved hardly.
(The light on the trail area should not come up yet, but it will be at least partially visible from the spill of light illuminating the spectators. JUDGE TAYLOR is sitting where he was, his head on his hand, half asleep. MR GILMER sits at his table going over some notes. MAYELLA still sits on her bench, but BOB EWELL is not there. ATTICUS is also offstage, as is HACK TATE and TOM RIBINSON. The spectators are all in place except MR CUNNINGHAM.)
REV SYKES (meanwhile; to JEM) They moved around some when the jury went out.
JEM How long have they been out?
REV SYKES ‘Bout an hour. Mr Finch and Gilmer did some more talkin’ and Judge Taylor charged the jury.
(MR CUNNINGHAM is coming back to his seat. He sits and whispers into NATHAN RADLLEY’S ear. He whispers to MISS STEPHANIE and she whispers to MISS MAUDIE. Meanwhile the coversation between REVEREND SYKES and JEM continues.)
DILL How was he?
REV SYKES I’m not complainin’ one bit. He was mighty fair-minded. I thought he was leanin’ a little to our side. Made Mr Ewell so mad, he stamped out of the room.
JEM The judge isn’t supposed to lean either way. ‘Sides, we don’t need it ‘cause we won anyway. I don’t see how any jury –
REV SYKES (interrupting) Don’t be so confident, Mister Jem. I’ve never seen any jury decide in favour of a black man over a while man.
JEM This case is different. (Noticing the whispering) What’s all the whispering?
SCOUT (concerned) Must be somethin’.
(A this BOB EWELL, very full of himself at this moment, walks on stage, and crosses to sit with MAYELLA. He whispers to her, quite proud of himself. The trail area, however, is only partially lighted.)
DILL (uneasy) That Bob Ewell looks mighty pleased ‘bout somethin’.
SCOUT (more concerned) Wonder where’s Atticus.
(There is no answer to this, and they look forward, waiting. Then JEAN speaks, and as she does, MISS MAUDIE leans across the space between them to whisper something to SCOUT.)
JEAN We found out about the whispering. Atticus has been standing at the window at the end of the corridor outside and Bob Ewell came up to him, cursed him, told him he’d kill him if it took the rest of his life, and when Atticus just stood there looking at him, Bob Ewell spat in his face.
(SCOUT has turned, aghast to whisper to JEM and DILL.)
JEAN According to what we heard, Atticus didn’t bat on eyelid – just took out a handkerchief and wiped his face.
(At this point, ATTICUS, pale but calm, his hands in pockets, strolls on stage, crosses to his table and sits. BOB EWELL nudges his daughter and gestures for her to look at ATTICUS. However, he ignores them.)
SCOUT (whispering unhappy to JEM) How could he let Ewell get away with a thing like that?
JEM (just as unhappy) Dunno.
SCOUT (a hushed protest) But he’s a dead shot –
DILL (defensively) That’s not his way –
SCOUT I’m gonna ask him about this.
JEAN But his only comment – all he said – ‘I wish Bob Ewell wouldn’t chew tobacco’.
(They are all waiting.)
JEAN (quietly) Several hours went by – and we waited. I don’t think anyone expected the jury to be out so terribly long.
SCOUT Jem – ain’t it a long time?
JEM (pleased) Sure is, Scout.
JEAN My brother thought it a favourable indication. Meanwhile, nobody moved about. Nobody left. (Taking a breath) Then, suddenly it was happening!
(HECK TATE has come on stage during this last speech and he pauses there, his voice ringing with authority. Light is coming up fully now on the trial area.)
HECK This court will come to order.
(HECK steps back offstage again. JUDGE TAYLOR is rousing himself to sudden alertness, as is everyone else. HECK reappears quickly, escorting TOM ROBINSON to the table where ATTICUS waits.)
HELEN (an involuntary call as her husband crosses to the table) Tom –
(TOM looks at her, then turns away quickly to sit beside ATTICUS.)
REV SYKES (gently) Helen – you promised.
HELEN (protesting) Reverend – (But she stops herself: agreeing in a low voice) I promised.
(JEM looks out to the front of the stage, meanwhile.)
JEM (with growing dismay) Scout – Look. Look at the jury comin’ in!
(JEM’S voice is making DILL nervous; he is also looking towards the front.)
DILL What about ‘em?
SCOUT (as she realises; hushed) They’re not looking at the defendant!
DILL (more nervous) What does it mean?
HECK (calling) The defendant will rise.
(As TOM and ATTICUS are rising, HECK comes down to the front of the stage for an instant, turns and goes back to hand a slip of paper to JUDGE TAYLOR.)
DILL (as this is happening; a frantic whisper) What’s it mean, Scout?
SCOUT (miserable) You’re gonna see.
DILL See what?
(JUDGE TAYLOR has read the slip of paper. He suddenly seems very tired. He picks up his gavel, ready to rap with it, but sees it is not necessary. He leans forward.)
JUDGE TAY The jury finds the defendant – guilty.
(There is a sigh from some, an intake of breath from others, and a low moan from HELEN. TOM turns to look at her. The JUDGE is about to rap with his gavel, but decides against it again. Wearily, he tosses the gavel onto the table, leans back and nods to HECK.)
HELEN (not quiet out loud, her lips forming his name) Tom – Tom –
(ATTICUS has put a hand on TOM’S shoulder and is speaking earnestly into his ear as HECK TATE approaches. ATTICUS then steps aside and HECK escorts TOM offstage. BOB EWELL, muttering disdainfully past the JUDGE, goes offstage followed by MAYELLA. MR GILMER also goes offstage, as does JUDGE TAYLOR. The reactions below are expresses during this and follow as quickly as the verdict registers.)
SCOUT (in shock) We lost! It’s all lost!
JEM (heartbroken) How could they find him guilty?
CALPURNIA (an unhappy protest voiced mainly to herself) Not right you children should see such things! Not right any children should see such things!
DILL (hushed) What happens now? What can we do?
JEM (bitterly) If the evidence don’t matter, I don’t see there’s anything –
DILL (whispered horror) But they’re not going to hurt Tom Robinson? Your father’ll do something. Mr Finch won’t let ’em. He’ll – he –
(DILL is stopped by REVEREND SYKES’ hand on his shoulder, and as he looks back, he sees that the REVEREND, HELEN and CALPURIA are standing respectfully. He realises, and rises to his feet as does JEM. Meanwhile ATTICUS has been left alone in the trial area. He has put some papers in his briefcase, slung his coat over his shoulder, and, utterly exhausted, he is collecting himself, unaware of the others.)
SCOUT (continuing meanwhile, her fists clenched, and leaning forward) They c’n spit in his face, and find Tom Robinson guilty! But no matter what any of ’em says – Atticus – he’s –
REV SYKES (his hand on her shoulder now) Miss Jean Louise –
(Interrupted, SCOUT turns to see them standing. MISS MAUDIE ATKINSON is also standing to show respect. The other white spectators who have started moving offstage, carrying their chairs, pause now, possibly out of curiosity, but they are also standing. ATTICUS takes a breath, and walks offstage.)
REV SYKES Miss Jean Louise – stand up. Stand up – your father’s passing.
(SCOUT gets to her feet with the others as her father continues going offstage. As this is happening, the lights dim everywhere except on JEAN. REVEREND SYKES helps HELEN off, while the others take off the set pieces used for the trial scene, and the set, while not yet lighted, is as it was earlier in the play. As this is happening, JEAN is speaking, beginning as ATTICUS completes his exit.)
JEAN (looking after her father) When we spoke to Atticus later, Jem started to cry. He wanted to know how the jury could do it.
(JEAN turns to the front of the stage.)
JEAN I’d never seen my father so close to being bitter. ‘I don’t know how,’ he told us, ‘but they did it. They’ve done it before, and they did it today and they’ll do it again. And when they do it – seems only children weep.’ (Taking a breath) As for Bob Ewell, he walked out the courtroom expecting to find himself the town hero, but it turned out only a few really believed him – Atticus had destroyed his last shred of credibility. All Ewell got for his pain was – was, okay, we convicted the Negro, but now you – you get back to your dump. Ewell started making terrible threats. This time we should have believed him. This time he was telling the truth.
(SCOUT has come on stage and looks about.)
JEAN I hurried home ahead of Jem and Dill. I don’t want them to see me going back to the knothole in the tree. I’d put a note there thanking whoever it was who left me the nice surprises.
(SCOUT is crossing quickly to the tree, and reaching up.)
JEAN I thought there might be an answer. What I found –
SCOUT (as she touches it; with dismay) Cement! Someone filled it with cement!
(NATHAN RADLEY is strolling on stage, not yet seen by SCOUT.)
NATHAN (to her back, dryly) Anything the matter?
SCOUT (startled, whirling around) What? (Collecting herself) No – nothing the matter. (Half a question) There’s cement in the knothole.
(JEAN goes offstage.)
NATHAN (nodding) I filled it up.
SCOUT (it takes courage to ask) Why’d you do that, sir?
NATHAN (Tree’s dying. You plug ’em with cement when they’re sick. (Going towards his house) You ought to know that, Miss Jean Louise.
SCOUT (after him) The tree don’t look sick to me.
(But NATHAN RADLEY continues on into the house, shutting the door.)
(JEM and DILL are coming on stage.)
SCOUT (muttering to herself) Whoever carved the soap statues, it wasn’t him.
JEM (to SCOUT) Why’d you run ahead? Scared of old Mr Ewell?
SCOUT Not one bit.
JEM Why should he stand outside the courthouse talkin’ so mean? His side won.
(MISS STEPHANIE CRAWFORD is coming on stage.)
DILL (too much to bear) But he hasn’t won really. We can still do something?
JEM (bitterly) Looks to me like the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed, Tom Robinson was a dead man!
DILL (shocked protest) Jem!
MS STEPH (bustling over) I’m absolutely surprised at you children. Did Atticus give you permission to go court?
(JEM shrugs in reply. MISS MAUDIE ATKINSON is coming on stage.)
MS STEPH Why were you sitting over in the coloured balcony? Several people mentioned it. Wasn’t it right close over there?
MS MAUDIE (disgusted) Hush, Stephanie.
MS STEPH (turning) Do you think it’s wise for children to –
MS MAUDIE (interrupting) We’ve made the town this way for them. They might as well learn to cope with it.
MS STEPH Least they don’t have to wallow in it.
MS MAUDIE (tartly) What happened in court is as much a part of Maycomb as missionary teas.
MS STEPH (going up onto her porch) Well – excuse me. Don’t suppose they understood anyway.
(MISS STEPHANIE pauses before going in, and speaks with what may be genuine sympathy.)
MS STEPH Too bad you had to see your daddy get beat.
(With this, MISS STEPHANIE goes in. JEM and SCOUT are hurt by her comment, as is DILL.)
DILL (beginning softly) When I get grown, I think I’ll be a clown.
JEM (not quite focusing) What, Dill?
DILL Yes, sir, a clown. There ain’t one thing in this world I can do about folks, so i’m gonna join the circus and laugh my head off.
JEM You’ve got it backwards, Dill. Clowns are sad. It’s folks that laugh at them.
DILL I’m gonna be a new kind of clown. I’m gonna stand in the middle of the ring and laugh – laugh in their faces!
(MISS MAUDIE has been watching, disturbed by their unhappiness.)
MS MAUDIE Don’t pay attention to what she says about Atticus.
JEM What do you mean?
MS MAUDIE I simply would like you to know that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.
JEM Oh – well –
MS MAUDIE Don’t you ‘oh well’ me, sir. You’re just not old enough to appreciate what I said.
JEM (troubled) I always thought Maycomb folks were the best folks in the world.
MS MAUDIE We’re the safest folks in the world. We’re so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we’ve got men like Atticus to go for us.
JEM Who feels that way ’sides you?
MS MAUDIE The handful of people in this town who say that fair play isn’t marked ‘White Only.’
JEM (must know) But who? Who did one thing to help Tom Robinson?
MS MAUDIE His friends, for one thing, and people like us. We exist, too. People like Judge Taylor. People like Heck Tate. Start using your head, Jem. Did it ever strike you that Judge Taylor naming Atticus to defend Tom was no accident? That Judge Taylor might have had his reasons?
SCOUT S’right, Jem. Usually the court appoints some new lawyer – one who is just startin’.
MS MAUDIE You’re beginning to realise! A little more to it than you thought! (Pressing) Whether Maycomb knows it or not, we’re paying your father the highest tribute we can pay a man. We trust him to do right.
SCOUT Then why did he get beat?
MS MAUDIE (snorting) Miss Stephanie talks nonsense. Maybe he didn’t get an acquittal, but he got something. I was sitting in court waiting, and as I waited, I thought – Atticus Finch won’t win, he can’t win, but he’s the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out for so long in a case like this. And I thought to myself, take note of this time and this place. It’s 1935 and it’s Maycomb, Alabama, and we’re making a step – it’s just a baby-step, but it’s a step.
(JEM, SCOUT and DILL are looking at MIS MAUDIE and thinking about what she has just said. She takes a breath and collects herself.)
MS MAUDIE I’m going into my kitchen now, and I’m going to make a cake. And I’d be pleased if you’d all come over later and have some of my cake.
SCOUT (subdued) Yes, Miss Maudie.
JEM Thank you.
MS MAUDIE Mister Dill?
DILL (half jumping) Yes – I’ll come. Thank you.
(With this MISS MAUDIE goes up and enters her house.)
DILL I better stop over to Aunt Rachel. (Pauses. Considering) They trust him to do right. (But this is too much for right now. He’ll think about it some other time. Suddenly brightening) I’ll be back – and then we’ll all have cake.
(With this, DILL runs off. SCOUT takes JEM’S hand and they go into the house. As SCOUT and JEM are going, JEAN comes back on stage.)
JEAN Tom Robinson was taken to the Enfield Prison Farm, about seventy miles away. Atticus thought Tom has a good chance for a new trial, but Tom just couldn’t hope any more. His old employer made a job for Helen so she could support the children, but she had to pass the Ewell place and they shouted and chucked things at her. She was terrified till Heck Tate went out and made them desist. Then Ewell’s threats got worse. Partly he blames Judge Taylor, but the main focus of his sick fury was Atticus. The only man in Maycomb ever to be fired from the WPA for laziness was Ewell, and somehow he twisted that onto Atticus, too – said Atticus had got his job. It looked to us that it was building to a blow-up, but Atticus just went about his business – working on Tom’s appeal. Then suddenly death was among us.
(JEM has come out of the house as CALPURNIA is coming out of MRS DUBOSE’S house, and they meet in the yard.)
JEAN First it was Mrs Dubose. Jem had started over to read to her, when he was stopped by Cal, who’d gone over to lend a hand. The doctor had just told her that Mrs Dubose had passed away.
(SCOUT and ATTICUS are coming onto the porch, looking at CALPURNIA and JEM, who are approaching.)
JEAN And Jem found out why he’d been reading to her. She’d been given morphine for her pain, and she’d become an addict – but she wanted to break herself of it before she died. She wanted to leave the world beholden to nobody and nothing. Jem’s reading was a distraction. It was a help.
JEM (looking up at ATTICUS) That’s why you said I had to read to her?
(BOB EWELL, whittling a piece of wood with a knife, is coming slowly on stage. He is full of a private joke that gives him a momentary sense of superiority.)
ATTICUS (nodding) Her views on a lot of things were quite different from mine, but I was glad she asked you to read to her because I wanted you to see –
BOB EWELL (cutting in) Hello, Finch.
(ATTICUS looks at him, then turns back to JEM.)
ATTICUS (continuing) I wanted you to see what real courage is.
BOB EWELL (gloating) Got some good news, Finch.
ATTICUS (glancing at EWELL) Courage isn’t a man with a knife in his hand. Jem – It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win – but sometimes you do. Mrs Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her!
BOB EWELL Don’t ’cha wanta hear, Finch?
(HELEN ROBINSON, distraught, hurries on stage.)
HECK Mr Finch – Cal – Please –
ATTICUS (coming down off the porch) What is it? What’s wrong, Helen?
(HECK TATE is coming on stage quickly.)
HECK (calling) Atticus –
ATTICUS Cal –
(CALPURNIA puts an arm around HELEN.)
CALPURNIA (anxiously) One of the children?
(HELEN can hardly talk.)
HELEN It’s not the children –
ATTICUS (to HECK) What is it?
BOB EWELL (getting back at them) I’ll tell you – they shot that nigger!
HECK (ignoring EWELL) Tom’s dead!
HELEN Mr Finch – they shot Tom!
HECK (nodding) He was running. It was during their exercise period. They said he just broke into a blind raving charge at the fence and started climbing over – right in front of them.
ATTICUS Oh, my God! (Turning to CALPURNIA) Cal, please, take Helen inside. You children go inside.
BOB EWELL They put seventeen bullet holes in him.
ATTICUS (to his numb children) I said for you to go inside.
(ATTICUS turns to HECK; he does not see that the children are not moving.)
ATTICUS Didn’t the try to stop him? Didn’t they give him any warning?
HECK (nodding) They shouted, and then they fired a few shots in the air. They didn’t shoot as him till he was almost over the fence.
HELEN Mr Finch – How could they shoot Tom?
ATTICUS (with difficulty) Helen – to them he was just an escaping prisoner. Her wasn’t Tom to them.
HELEN (bewildered) Why didn’t he wait for the appeal?
ATTICUS I don’t know. I told him we had a chance, but I couldn’t say we had more than a chance. I guess Tom was fed up with white men’s chances.
BOB EWELL Ain’t it just like a nigger to cut ’n’ run?
CALPURNIA (firmly) You come inside, Helen.
(ATTICUS turns to address BOB EWELL directly; he is barely able to control his anger.)
ATTICUS Do you have anything more you want to say, Mr Ewell?
(EWELL starts to go, then stops, overwhelmed with spite.)
BOB EWELL Yes – I say there’s one down –
(With his knife, BOB EWELL slashes a piece from his whittling.)
BOB EWELL – two to go! Now guess who’s gonna be next!
(BOB EWELL slashes another piece from his whittling and walks offstage.)
HECK (thoughtfully) I think I’d keep a shotgun loaded with double O.
JEM (from the porch) He doesn’t have a shotgun.
ATTICUS (dropping his voice) Was Tom really shot up that much?
HECK (unhappily) There’s talk, but I don’t know. You better be careful Atticus.
ATTICUS (after him) Sure – thanks, Heck.
JEM (firmly) Atticus, I’m worried about you. And I think you should get a gun.
ATTICUS I told you twice to go inside. Let’s all go and be with Helen.
(They start to go in.)
ATTICUS (pointedly) And remember – she’s someone who’s heard enough about guns.
(As they go into the house, the light begins to dim except for a small isolated light on JEAN. As she speaks, the light continues to dim until the stage is entirely dark except for her, and she is only dimly seen.)
JEAN Atticus was underestimating what anger and sick frustration could do to an already unbalanced man. The night we found out – there was a pageant at the school auditorium and Jem said he’d take me. It was to be our longest journey together. Wind was coming up and Jem said it might be raining before we got home. Heavy clouds had blacked out the moon, and it was pitch dark. Before we left, Cal had a pinprick of apprehension. When I asked what was the matter, she said ‘Somebody just walked over my grave.’ On the way to school, Jem had a flashlight
(At this, JEM turns on a pinpoint flashlight, directing it into SCOUT’S face.)
JEM (teasing) You scared? Scared of haints?
SCOUT (scornfully) Haints, hot steams, incantations, secret signs – I’m too old.
JEM (reciting) ‘Angel bright, life-in-death, get off the road, don’t suck my breath.’
SCOUT (sharply) Cut it out!
JEM You’re scared now because we’re passin’ Boo Radley’s place.
SCOUT I’m not scared. ’Sides he must not be home.
JEM How c’n ya tell?
SCOUT (logically) If he was, there wouldn’t be a bird singing in the Radley tree. Hear that mocker?
(As they listen to the birdsong, the flashlight goes out.)
SCOUT Turn on your light again.
JEM Somethin’ wrong with it. C’mon. Gimme your hand.
(They start to go.)
SCOUT How do you know where we’re at?
JEM I can tell we’re under the tree mow because we’re passing through a cool spot. (As they are going offstage) Careful.
JEAN The trip back from the pageant was more eventful. The moon had been in and out of the heavy rainclouds, but as we started home it was black dark – and there was the stillness that sometimes comes before a thunderstorm. (Her voice becoming increasingly involved) Jem thought he heard something, and we stopped to listen. Then we walked a few more steps, and he stopped again. I thought he was trying to scare me, but that wasn’t it. He held my hand tight and pulled me along fast. Then we stopped suddenly.
(There are sounds of several steps being taken, and then they stop.)
JEAN I thought I heard steps following, too.
(There is a rumble of distant thunder. SCOUT speaks to JEM in the darkness. The light on JEAN has dimmed away. The stage is in total darkness.)
SCOUT (voice in the darkness) Jem, are you afraid?
JEN (voice) Think we’re not too far to the tree now.
SCOUT Reckon we ought to sing, Jem?
JEM (worried) No. Be real quiet, Scout.
(There is another rumble of thunder.)
SCOUT Just the thunderstorm gettin’ closer.
JEM (more worried) No, not that – Listen!
(There is the sound of something running toward them.)
SCOUT (with sudden alarm) I hear! Jem!
JEM (shouting imperatively) He’s coming! Run, Scout! Run! Run!
SCOUT (in trouble) I tripped! Jem – help me!
JEM (frantic) Where are ya? Scout – C’mom!
SCOUT (growing panic) Can’t see! I don’t know –
JEM Get away, Scout – Run!
(Then JEM cries out as someone grabs him. There is a sound of struggling. A man’s voice heard – angry, unintelligible.)
ATTACKER Got ’cha – now you’ll – damn ya – show ’em
(There is a crack and JEM screams with pain.)
SCOUT (hushed terror) Jem! (A cry) Help us – someone – help!
(The blackness is split as the Radley door is suddenly swung wide open, the light from inside silhouetting a big MAN in the doorway. There may be a clap of thunder accompanying this action. The light may briefly reveal a man standing over JEM on the ground, and struggling with the stricken SCOUT. The less seen the better. The light is quickly cut off as the MAN slams the door behind him and joins the struggle in the darkness. There is a moment of continued struggle, grunts, Scout’s sobs, and then a man’s cry of pain: ‘Ahhh!’
The sounds of struggle stop. JEM is picked up by the MAN from the Radley house and carried to the Finch house, where the porch light is turned on, and ATTICUS comes out. JEM’S arm is hanging as though broken. SCOUT, who had been flung to the ground, is watching from there. The attacker is not visible.)
ATTICUS (as he comes out) Who called? What is it? Who –
(Stopping himself as he sees the MAN approaching with JEM. ATTICUS goes off the porch to help him.)
ATTICUS Oh, my God – Jem!
(ATTICUS helps the MAN with JEM.)
ATTICUS (calling ahead) Cal – telephone Doctor Reynolds quick! Tell him urgent!
(The MAN is taking JEM inside.)
ATTICUS Put him down on – (Turning) Scout – where’s Scout?
SCOUT (struggling up) I’m here!
(ATTICUS rushes to her.)
SCOUT I’m all right – the man’s gone. But he did somethin’ awful to Jem. Atticus – is Jem dead?
ATTICUS (taking her back to the porch) He’s unconscious. Looks like his arm’s broken.
(CALPURNIA is coming out onto the porch.)
CALPURNIA Scout all right?
CALPURNIA Miss Eula May’s getting Doctor Reynolds.
SCOUT (needing reassurance) Jem’s not dead, is he, Cal?
CALPURNIA Passed out from the pain. Who did this? Who would –
(ATTICUS starts to go in with SCOUT.)
ATTICUS Call Heck Tate, please. Tell him someone’s been after my children.
(As ATTICUS and SCOUT go in, CALPURNIA turns to stare into the night, involuntarily clenching her fists with outrage. But she is part of a ‘lawing’ family and she is needed inside. She hurries back in. The light has revealed JEAN again.)
JEAN After ten forevers, Doctor Reynolds finished with Jem. He said it looked like someone tried to wring his arm off, and it would be a while before Jem could play football again. He added his assurance that Jem was not dead – only under sedation.
(A man with a flashlight, HECK TATE, has come on stage and is approaching the porch.)
JEAN Meanwhile Heck Tate had been investigating and when he came to the porch, there was something odd about him.
HECK (calling) Atticus –
ATTICUS Come in, Heck. Did you find anything? (Incredulous) I can’t conceive anyone who’d do this.
HECK Let’s stay outside.
(SCOUT is coming onto the porch as ATTICUS steps down to HECK.)
ATTICUS (puzzled) What is it, Heck?
HECK Bob Ewell’s lyin’ on the ground yonder with a kitchen knife stuck up under his ribs. He’s dead, Mr Finch.
(ATTICUS is stunned , and SCOUT gulps. The MAN comes out of the house, standing quietly watching from back by the porch swing.)
ATTICUS (bleakly) Dead? Are you sure?
HECK Good and dead. He won’t hurt these children again.
ATTICUS But –
HECK (his anger getting the better of him) The mean-as-hell, low-down skunk with enough liquor in him to make him brave enough to kill children!
ATTICUS (in shock) I thought he’d got it out of him the day he spat at me. And if he hadn’t, I thought I was the one he’d come after.
HECK Now you know better. (To SCOUT) He broke Jem’s arm, and he grabbed you. Then what happened?
SCOUT Someone came out – to help. Someone –
HECK Who was it?
SCOUT (becoming aware of him) Well, there he is, Mr Tate – he’ll tell you his name.
(They all turn to look at the MAN at the back of the porch. He is pale, nervous, withdrawn. Ad SCOUT looks at him, she begins to realise; she takes a step toward him.)
SCOUT (gently) Hey – Boo.
ATTICUS (to SCOUT) His right name’s Mr Arthur – Boo is just a nickname. Jean Louise, this is Mr Arthur Radley. Maybe you’d like to take him in. You can sit by Jem.
SCOUT Like to come in, Mr Boo.
(He nod, takes her arm and they go in.)
ATTICUS (turning) Well, Heck – I guess the thing to do – Jem’s a minor, of course. It’ll come before county court.
HECK What will, Mr Finch?
ATTICUS Of course it’s clear-cut self-defence.
HECK Mr Finch, do you think Jem killed Bob Ewell?
ATTICUS They were struggling in the dark. He probably got hold of Ewell’s knife.
HECK It wasn’t Jem.
ATTICUS That’s good of you, and I know you’re doing it from the good of your heart. But I won’t have him grown up with a whisper about him. I won’t hush up-
HECK (sharply) Hush up what? Jem didn’t do it.
ATTICUS Then who-
HECK (flatly) I’ll tell you – Bob Ewell fell on his knife. He killed himself.
ATTICUS Heck, I won’t have my children hear me say something different from what they know to be true. If I do, I won’t have them any more. I can’t live one way in town and another way in my home.
HECK Mr Finch, I hate to fight when you’re like this. You’ve been under a strain no man should ever have to go through. Maybe that’s why you’re not putting two and two together.
ATTICUS (trying to understand) If it wasn’t Jem –
HECK Of course it wasn’t. His arm was broken.
ATTICUS (looking toward the porch) Then it was – It would have to be –
HECK (emphatically) Put that thought outa you mind, Mr Finch. I already told you what happened.
(SCOUT is coming onto the porch)
ATTICUS But if it was –
HECK This isn’t your decision, Mr Finch, it’s all mine. It’s my decision, and my responsibility. And there’s not much you can do about it.
ATTICUS What are you saying Heck?
HECK I’m saying there’s a black man dead for no reason, and the white man responsible for it is dead. So let the dead bury the dead, this time, Mr Finch.
ATTICUS What about –
HECK I never heard it’s against the law for a citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed, which is exactly what Boo Radley did. Now maybe you’ll say it’s my duty to tell the town all about it and not hush it up. Know what’d happen then? All the ladies in Maycomb, including my wife, would be knocking on his door bringing angel food cakes. To my way of thinking, dragging him with his shy ways into the limelight – that’s a sin.
(HECK starts to go, then pauses.)
HECK I may not be much, Mr Finch, but I’m still sheriff of Maycomb County, and Bob Ewell fell on his knife. (Going) Good night, sir.
(ATTICUS turns and is surprised to see SCOUT.)
SCOUT Yes, Atticus?
ATTICUS Mr Ewell fell on his knife. Can you possibly understand?
SCOUT Sir – it looks to me – what Heck said –
(SCOUT is interrupted by BOO, who has come back onto the porch.)
BOO Jean Louise?
SCOUT Yes, Mr Boo?
BOO Will you take me home?
(SCOUT nods, offers her arm, and they go toward the Radley house. It is getting much brighter.)
ATTICUS (after them) Arthur –
(SCOUT and BOO pause.)
ATTICUS Thank you for my children, Arthur.
(Then SCOUT and BOO continue toward the Radley house.)
JEAN (quietly) I remember – the moon had come out – the storm had passed over – and I was being escorted by Boo Radley.
(They have gone up onto the Radley porch. BOO nods, and goes inside.)
JEAN He went inside and I never saw him again. But when I turned around, standing on Boo’s porch – I saw something else.
(SCOUT pauses, looking off.)
JEAN A young boy and girl shouting, running to meet their father coming home, the boy going after Mrs Dubose’s camelias, the children excited about surprises found in the knothole – and then a stormy night, and those children need him!
(JEAN turns towards her father, who is waiting for SCOUT.)
JEAN Atticus – I was already beginning to stand in other people’s shoes! The thing you wanted, Atticus –
(ATTICUS does not hear. SCOUT is running back to him ruefully.)
JEAN But – did you ever know?
SCOUT (RUNNING UP) Atticus – what Heck Tate said about Boo – about dragging him into the limelight – Heck was right.
ATTICUS What do you mean?
SCOUT I mean, it’d be sort of like shooting a mockingbird wouldn’t it?
ATTICUS (quiet happy) Yes – yes, it would. Let’s go in and sit with Jem.
JEAN (softly, her lips just forming the words) You did know.
SCOUT (as they are going) All those ideas we had about Boo Radley – But, Atticus – he’s real nice.
(The curtain, is falling. Otherwise the lights are dimming.)
ATTICUS (affectionately, as they go in) Most people are, Scout – when you finally see them.