“Nobody’s moved, hardly,” said Jem.
“They moved around some when the jury went out,” said Reverend Sykes. “The menfolk down there got the womenfolk their suppers, and they fed their babies.”
“How long have they been out?” asked Jem.
“ ’bout thirty minutes. Mr. Finch and Mr. Gilmer did some more talkin’, and Judge Taylor charged the jury.”
“How was he?” asked Jem.
“What say? Oh, he did right well. I ain’t complainin’ one bit—he was mighty fair-minded. He sorta said if you believe this, then you’ll have to return one verdict, but if you believe this, you’ll have to return another one. I thought he was leanin’ a little to our side—” Reverend Sykes scratched his head.
Jem smiled. “He’s not supposed to lean, Reverend, but don’t fret, we’ve won it,” he said wisely. “Don’t see how any jury could convict on what we heard—”
“Now don’t you be so confident, Mr. Jem, I ain’t ever seen any jury decide in favor of a colored man over a white man. . . .” But Jem took exception to Reverend Sykes, and we were subjected to a lengthy review of the evidence with Jem’s ideas on the law regarding rape: it wasn’t rape if she let you, but she had to be eighteen—in Alabama, that is—and Mayella was nineteen. Apparently you had to kick and holler, you had to be overpowered and stomped on, preferably knocked stone cold. If you were under eighteen, you didn’t have to go through all this.
“Mr. Jem,” Reverend Sykes demurred, “this ain’t a polite thing for little ladies to hear . . .”
“Aw, she doesn’t know what we’re talkin’ about,” said Jem. “Scout, this is too old for you, ain’t it?”
“It most certainly is not, I know every word you’re saying.” Perhaps I was too convincing, because Jem hushed and never discussed the subject again.
“What time is it, Reverend?” he asked.
“Gettin’ on toward eight.”
I looked down and saw Atticus strolling around with his hands in his pockets: he made a tour of the windows, then walked by the railing over to the jury box. He looked in it, inspected Judge Taylor on his throne, then went back to where he started. I caught his eye and waved to him. He acknowledged my salute with a nod, and resumed his tour.
Mr. Gilmer was standing at the windows talking to Mr. Underwood. Bert, the court reporter, was chain-smoking: he sat back with his feet on the table.
But the officers of the court, the ones present—Atticus, Mr. Gilmer, Judge Taylor sound asleep, and Bert, were the only ones whose behavior seemed normal. I had never seen a packed courtroom so still. Sometimes a baby would cry out fretfully, and a child would scurry out, but the grown people sat as if they were in church. In the balcony, the Negroes sat and stood around us with biblical patience.
The old courthouse clock suffered its preliminary strain and struck the hour, eight deafening bongs that shook our bones.
When it bonged eleven times I was past feeling: tired from fighting sleep, I allowed myself a short nap against Reverend Sykes’s comfortable arm and shoulder. I jerked awake and made an honest effort to remain so, by looking down and concentrating on the heads below: there were sixteen bald ones, fourteen men that could pass for red-heads, forty heads varying between brown and black, and—I remembered something Jem had once explained to me when he went through a brief period of physical research: he said if enough people—a stadium full, maybe—were to concentrate on one thing, such as setting a tree afire in the woods, that the tree would ignite of its own accord. I toyed with the idea of asking everyone below to concentrate on setting Tom Robinson free, but thought if they were as tired as I, it wouldn’t work.
Dill was sound asleep, his head on Jem’s shoulder, and Jem was quiet.
“Ain’t it a long time?” I asked him.
“Sure is, Scout,” he said happily.
“Well, from the way you put it, it’d just take five minutes.”
Jem raised his eyebrows. “There are things you don’t understand,” he said, and I was too weary to argue.
But I must have been reasonably awake, or I would not have received the impression that was creeping into me. It was not unlike one I had last winter, and I shivered, though the night was hot. The feeling grew until the atmosphere in the courtroom was exactly the same as a cold February morning, when the mockingbirds were still, and the carpenters had stopped hammering on Miss Maudie’s new house, and every wood door in the neighborhood was shut as tight as the doors of the Radley Place. A deserted, waiting, empty street, and the courtroom was packed with people. A steaming summer night was no different from a winter morning. Mr. Heck Tate, who had entered the courtroom and was talking to Atticus, might have been wearing his high boots and lumber jacket. Atticus had stopped his tranquil journey and had put his foot onto the bottom rung of a chair; as he listened to what Mr. Tate was saying, he ran his hand slowly up and down his thigh. I expected Mr. Tate to say any minute, “Take him, Mr. Finch. . . .”