My father looked at me mildly, amusement in his eyes. Despite our compromise, my campaign to avoid school had continued in one form or another since my first day’s dose of it: the beginning of last September had brought on sinking spells, dizziness, and mild gastric complaints. I went so far as to pay a nickel for the privilege of rubbing my head against the head of Miss Rachel’s cook’s son who was afflicted with a tremendous ringworm. It didn’t take.
Aunt Alexandra was Atticus’s sister, but when Jem told me about changelings and siblings, I decided that she had been swapped at birth, that my grandparents had perhaps received a Crawford instead of a Finch. Had I ever harbored the mystical notions about mountains that seem to obsess lawyers and judges, Aunt Alexandra would have been analogues to Mount Everest: throughout my early life, she was cold and there.
Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants. Aunt Alexandra’s vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father’s lonely life. I suggested that one could be a ray of sunshine in pants just as well, but Aunty said that one had to behave like a sunbeam, that I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year. She hurt my feelings and set my teeth permanently on edge, but when I asked Atticus about it, he said there were already enough sunbeams in the family and to go on about my business, he didn’t mind me much the way I was.
When Uncle Jack jumped down from the train Christmas Eve day, we had to wait for the porter to hand him two long packages. Jem and I always thought it funny when Uncle Jack pecked Attiucs on the cheek; they were the only two men we ever saw kiss each other. Uncle Jack shook hands with Jem and swung me high, but not high enough: Uncle Jack was a head shorter than Atticus; the baby of the family, he was younger than Aunt Alexandra. He and Aunty looked alike, but Uncle Jack made better use of his face: we were never wary of his sharp nose and chin.
He was one of the few men of science who never terrified me, probably because he never behaved to a doctor. Whenever he performed a minor service for Jem and me, such as removing a splinter from a foot, he would tell us exactly what he was going to do, give us an estimation of how much it would hurt, and explain the use of any tongs he employed. One Christmas I lurked in corners nursing a twisted splinter in my foot, permitting no one to come near me. When Uncle Jack caught me, he kept me laughing about a preacher who hated going to church so much that every day he stood at his gate in his dressing-gown. I interrupted to make Uncle Jack let me know when he would pull it out, but he held a bloody splinter in a pair of tweezers and said he yanked it while I was laughing, that was what was know as relativity.
Prepared by Nancy Kennett, SJAWP Retyped by Julie Andrade
“[ . . . . ] ‘Don’t say nigger, Scout. That’s common.’ ‘’s what everybody at schools says.’ From now on it’ll be everybody less one--’ ‘Well if you don’t want me to grow up talkin’ that way, why do you send me to school?’ Despite our compromise, my campaign to avoid school had continued in one form or another since my first day’s dose of it [ . . . .] ‘Do all lawyers defend n-Negroes, Atticus?’ ‘Of course they do, Scout.’ ‘Then why did Cecil say you defended niggers?