“You goin’ to court this morning?” asked Jem. We had strolled over.
“I am not,” she said. “I have no business with the court this morning.”
“Aren’t you goin’ down to watch?” asked Dill.
“I am not. ’t’s morbid, watching a poor devil on trial for his life. Look at all those folks, it’s like a Roman carnival.”
“They hafta try him in public, Miss Maudie,” I said. “Wouldn’t be right if they didn’t.”
“I’m quite aware of that,” she said. “Just because it’s public, I don’t have to go, do I?”
Miss Stephanie Crawford came by. She wore a hat and gloves. “Um, um, um,” she said. “Look at all those folks—you’d think William Jennings Bryan was speakin’.”
“And where are you going, Stephanie?” inquired Miss Maudie.
“To the Jitney Jungle.”
Miss Maudie said she’d never seen Miss Stephanie go to the Jitney Jungle in a hat in her life.
“Well,” said Miss Stephanie, “I thought I might just look in at the courthouse, to see what Atticus’s up to.”
“Better be careful he doesn’t hand you a subpoena.”
We asked Miss Maudie to elucidate: she said Miss Stephanie seemed to know so much about the case she might as well be called on to testify.
We held off until noon, when Atticus came home to dinner and said they’d spent the morning picking the jury. After dinner, we stopped by for Dill and went to town.
It was a gala occasion. There was no room at the public hitching rail for another animal, mules and wagons were parked under every available tree. The courthouse square was covered with picnic parties sitting on newspapers, washing down biscuit and syrup with warm milk from fruit jars. Some people were gnawing on cold chicken and cold fried pork chops. The more affluent chased their food with drugstore Coca-Cola in bulb-shaped soda glasses. Greasy-faced children popped-the-whip through the crowd, and babies lunched at their mothers’ breasts.
In a far corner of the square, the Negroes sat quietly in the sun, dining on sardines, crackers, and the more vivid flavors of Nehi Cola. Mr. Dolphus Raymond sat with them.
“Jem,” said Dill, “he’s drinkin’ out of a sack.”
Mr. Dolphus Raymond seemed to be so doing: two yellow drugstore straws ran from his mouth to the depths of a brown paper bag.
“Ain’t ever seen anybody do that,” murmured Dill. “How does he keep what’s in it in it?”
Jem giggled. “He’s got a Co-Cola bottle full of whiskey in there. That’s so’s not to upset the ladies. You’ll see him sip it all afternoon, he’ll step out for a while and fill it back up.”
“Why’s he sittin’ with the colored folks?”
“Always does. He likes ’em better’n he likes us, I reckon. Lives by himself way down near the county line. He’s got a colored woman and all sorts of mixed chillun. Show you some of ’em if we see ’em.”
“He doesn’t look like trash,” said Dill.
“He’s not, he owns all one side of the riverbank down there, and he’s from a real old family to boot.”
“Then why does he do like that?”
“That’s just his way,” said Jem. “They say he never got over his weddin’. He was supposed to marry one of the—the Spender ladies, I think. They were gonna have a huge weddin’, but they didn’t—after the rehearsal the bride went upstairs and blew her head off. Shotgun. She pulled the trigger with her toes.”
“Did they ever know why?”
“No,” said Jem, “nobody ever knew quite why but Mr. Dolphus. They said it was because she found out about his colored woman, he reckoned he could keep her and get married too. He’s been sorta drunk ever since. You know, though, he’s real good to those chillun—”
“Jem,” I asked, “what’s a mixed child?”
“Half white, half colored. You’ve seen ’em, Scout. You know that red-kinky-headed one that delivers for the drugstore. He’s half white. They’re real sad.”
“Sad, how come?”
“They don’t belong anywhere. Colored folks won’t have ’em because they’re half white; white folks won’t have ’em ’cause they’re colored, so they’re just in-betweens, don’t belong anywhere. But Mr. Dolphus, now, they say he’s shipped two of his up north. They don’t mind ’em up north. Yonder’s one of ’em.”