"It's been here longer than the town."
"No, 1 mean the people in our street are all old. Jem and I are the only children around here. Miss Rachel is old and so are you and Aiticus."
"I don't call fifty very old 4. But maybe you are right, Jean-Louise. You've never been around young people much, have you?"
"Yes, at school."
"I mean young grown-ups. But you are lucky. If your father was thirty you'd find your life quite different."
"Certainly. Atticus can't do anything..."
"You don't know your father, child. But I have a lot of work to do, you'd better go home.
I went to the back yard, where Jem was practising his air rifle and joined him. I felt awfully sorry that our father could not do anything interesting.
One Saturday Jem and I decided to go out with our air rifles to see if we could find a rabbit or a squirrel. Suddenly I noticed that Jem was looking attentively at something down the street.
"What are you looking at?"
"That old dog down there," he said.
"That's old Tim Johnson, isn't it?"
Tim Johnson was the dog of Mr. Harry Johnson who drove the bus and lived on the southern end of town. Tim was a good dog, everybody liked him.
"What's he doing? What's the matter with him?"
"I don't know, Scout '. We'll better go home."
We ran back home and rushed into the kitchen.
"Cal," said Jem, "can you come down the street for a min lite?"
"What for, Jem?" said our cook. "I can't come down the street every time you want me."
"There's something wrong with an old dog down there. He is sick. He doesn't look usual."
"Are you telling me a story, Jem Finch?"
"No, Cal. I'm sure he is mad."
Calpurnia followed us and looked at the dog. Tim Johnson walked with great difficulty as if his right legs were shorter than his left legs. Suddenly Calpurnia grabbed as by the shoulders and ran us home. She shut the door behind us, went to the telephone and shouted, "Give me Mr. Finch's office!"
"Mr. Finch!" she shouted. "This is Cal. There's a mad dog down the street, he is coming this way, yes sir,- I'm sure he's mad - old Tim Johnson, yes, sir - yes -"
She did not tell us what Atticus had said. She began to ring up all the neighbours to ask them not to leave their houses. Soon every door to the street was closed tight. We looked out of the window but did not see Tim Johnson. But we saw a black car approaching our house. Atticus and Mr. Heck T?te got out.
Mr. Heck Tale was the sheriff of Maycomb County 3. He was as tall as Atticus, but thinner. His belt had a row of bullets sticking in it. He carried a heavy rifle. When he and Atticus reached the house, Jem opened the door.
"Stay inside, son," said Atticus. "Where is the dog, Cal?"
"Somewhere here," said Calpurnia, pointing down the street.
"Should we go after him, Heck?" asked Atticus.
"We better wait, Mr. Finch. Mad dogs usually go in a straight line, but you never can tell. Let's wait a minute."
I thought mad dogs foamed at the mouth, galloped, leaped and lunged at throats ' and I thought they did it in August. If Tim Johnson had behaved like that I would have been less frightened.
We waited. I could see our neighbours' faces in the windows of their houses. Miss Maudie appeared, too. Mr. T?te prepared his gun for shooting. Tim Johnson came into sight.
"Look at him," whispered Jem. "Mr. Heck said they walked in a straight line. He can't even stay in the road."
"He looks more sick than anything," I said.
Mr. T?te put his hand to his forehead and leaned forward. "Yes, Mr. Finch, there's no doubt about it - he's mad."
Tim Johnson was advancing very slowly. He was not playing; we could see him shiver; his mouth opened and shut.
"He is looking for a place to die," said Jem.
Mr. T?te turned around. "He is far from dead, Jem, he hasn't even started yet."
Atticus said, "He's quite near, Heck. You better get him now before he goes down the side street. God knows who is around the corner. Go inside, Cal."
"Take him, Mr. Finch." Mr. T?te handed the rifle to Atticus. Jem and I nearly fainted.3
"Don't waste time, Heck," said Atticus. "Go on."
"Mr. Finch, this must be a one-shot job."
Atticus shook his hand, but the sheriff insisted and almost threw the rifle at Atticus. "I'd feel very comfortable if you shot now," he said.
With great surprise Jem and I watched our father. He took the gun and walked out into the middle of the street.
He walked quickly, but I thought he moved like an underwater swimmer; time went very slowly.
Atticus pushed his glasses to his forehead; they fell 4own, and he stepped on them.
Tim Johnson made two steps forward, then stopped and raised his head. We saw his body go rigid.
With movements so quick they seemed simultaneous, Atticus's hand brought the gun to his shoulder.
The rifle cracked. Tim Johnson leaped and fell on the ground sidewalk in a brown-and-white heap 2. He did not know what hit him.
Mr. Tate came up to the dog, looked at him and then said to Atticus, "You were a little to the right, Mr. Finch."
"Always was," answered Atticus. He went to Mr. T?te and stood looking down at poor Tim Johnson.
Doors opened one by one, and the neighbours slowly came alive. Miss Maudie walked down the steps.
Jem was paralysed. But when I wanted to run to Atticus, our father called"Stay where you are."
When Mr. T?te and Atticus returned to the yard, Mr. T?te was smiling. "You haven't forgotten much, Mr. Finch. You shoot as well as ever. They say it never leaves you."
Atticus was silent.
"Atticus?" said Jem.
"I saw that, One-Shot Finch," said Miss Maudie.
Atticus turned round and faced Miss Maudie. They looked at one another without saying anything, and Atticus got into the sheriff's car. "Come here," he said to Jem. "Don't go near that dog, you understand? Don't go near him, he's just as dangerous dead as alive."
"Yes, sir," said Jem. "Atticus -"
"What's the matter with you, boy, can't you talk?" said Mr. T?te, smiling at Jem. "Didn't you know that your daddy is..."
"Hush, Heck," said Atticus, "let's go back to town."
When they drove away Jem and I came up to Miss Maudie. Jem could hardly speak: "Did you see him, Scout? Did you see him standing there? He looked like that gun was a part of him... and he did it so quick... I have to aim for ten minutes before I can hit something..."
Miss Maudie smiled. "Well now, Miss Jean-Louise," she said, "still think your father can't do anything? Still ashamed of him?"
"No, Miss," I said meekly.
"I forgot to tell you that Atticus Finch was the deadest shot ' in Maycomb County in his time."
"Dead shot..." echoed Jem.
"That's what I said, Jem Finch. I think you'll change your opinion now. Didn't you know his nickname was One-Shot Finch when he was a boy?"
"He never said anything about that," Jem said.
"Never said anything about it, did he?"
"I wonder why he never goes hunting now," I said.
"Maybe I can tell you," said Miss Maudie. "Your father is civilized in his heart. Marksmanship is a gift of God, a talent - you must practise to make it perfect, but shooting is different from playing the piano. I think maybe he put down his gun when he realized that he has an unfair advantage over most living things 4. I think he wouldn't shoot till he had to, and he had to shoot today."
When we went home I told Jem we'd really have something to talk about at school on Monday. Jem turned on me.
"Don't say anything about it, Scout," he said.
"What? I certainly will. Not everybody's daddy is the deadest shot in Maycomb County."
Jem said, "If he'd wanted us to know it, he'd have told us. If he was proud of it, he'd have told us."
"Maybe he just forgot," I said.
"No, Scout, it's something you wouldn't understand. Atticus is old, but I wouldn't care if he couldn't do anything ', I wouldn't care at all."
Jem picked up a stone and threw it joyfully at the garage. Running after it, he called back. "Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!"