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First Purchase

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I had noticed a profound change in Jeremy, and along with it an annoyance in Jean Louise. Jem ate very much like a wild horse (and was much moodier). He had always liked to think that he was right, and now was no different; however, his treatment of Jean Louise certainly was. So, I told her not to fret about Mister Jem.

“Mis-ter Jem?” She had inquired with a sniffle. I had explained that Jem had grown older now, to which she retorted, “He ain’t that old.”

Atticus had left for some reason or another, and so I offered to take the children to my church on Sunday. After Scout had accepted (enthusiastically, might I add), I scrubbed both of them vigorously in the bath. Actually, I can’t say both—Jem rejected me from the vicinity of his wash with a complaint about privacy. Afterwards, I saw some commendable results; they were so pristine that they could have been compared to shiny new cars (not that you’d see many of those in Maycomb). The following morning I ensured that their outfits were suitable. Mister Jem, evidently, can’t match a suit to a tie to save his life. I hope everything will go alright, I thought, and then we were off.

As we arrived, I observed that the children were staring at nearly everything we passed (in awe, confusion, or something else entirely, I can’t say). I recall Scout muttering something about our graveyard being the happiest one she’d ever seen, to which I smiled. Much better than cold, sinking graves, with sad occupants, I thought. When my friends noticed my guests, they greeted us with glad faces.

Then I saw Lula, proud and tall, heading our way. She was always doing something or another to cause a scuffle. She asked me what I was doing, bringing Jeremy and Jean Louise to First Purchase. I responded that they were my company, and that it’s the same God, but Lula just spewed out more viscous language that must have stuck to and shriveled the children’s hearts like poison glue. I saw that Scout was frightened, and so I tried to comfort her (though I was shaking myself).

Finally, Zeebo came to the rescue, reminding us all not to pay any mind to Lula; he was my son, but that day he was my knight in shining armor. I then led the children into the church, and we sat down in a bench. I gave them a bit of change for offering, but they were reluctant to accept; Atticus had already left them some for the same purpose.

Throughout the service, Jean Louise (ever the curious child) kept opening that little mouth of hers! She kept bothering me about hymn-books and Tom Robinson, among other things. Both children seemed surprised when we did the lining with the hymns, and both were proud of their offering. Miss Jean Louise thought it rather strange that I didn’t know my own birthday, and Jem was shocked that I taught Zeebo to read out of Blackstone’s Commentaries.

Jean Louise then inquired why I talked and behaved in two different ways, another difficult question to answer. The child’s being raised by a lawyer can only have encouraged her teeming desire for knowledge, I supposed. When she asked if she could ever visit me at my house, I said, “Any time you want to”. After all, I believe that the experience, however strange, had shown them something new, and given me perspective as well. At such a time, we all needed that in our lives.




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