It took me a slap year to save them seb'n nickels. Ice cream, downtown Maycomb, fine folks - I made the kids clean up real good afore I let 'em anywhere near it. It were all I ever wanted to meet the fine folks, but they don't do one thing but give you sass. At least, that's all the truant lady ever does – comin' round, askin' me why I ain't at school as if it weren't Papa's property. So I say I bet it'd be real nice, but Papa needs us at home. Tell her I c'n read an' write – just like the fine folks can. School prolly would be real nice, too. If goin' ter school teaches 'em ter be fine folks, there ain't nuthin' more I ever could want. But Ewells just don' go ter school; they're supposed ter turn up the first day each year, then leave. If I go ter school I'll be disgracin' my folks at home. It's bad enough bein' the first Ewell what ever come ter court. It were always our duty to let the law do its job an' let us folks be; has been fer three generations.
It all makes me mighty glad Papa's kind enough ter leave us alone every coupla days. He'll go down the swamp an' come back sick, but I don' mind fixin' him up. It's good practise: fine folks're always fixin' things up. Sometimes I feel like it's all I c'n do ter fix up my face an' the plants in the back yard; make fine dandy shoes fer me an' the kids outta ole tyres an' haul water ter fix 'em up - even if it takes scrubbin' with lye soap an' very hot water to fix Papa an' the kids. But with these here fine folks, they're a different kinda clean. They put on fine fancy clothes an' airs fit ter beat Jesus, an' they talk so purty they gotta be lyin' filthier than the cooties on Burris' head; that's mean old Mr Finch! I see 'em an' wonder who they're dressin' up for, 'cause not nobody never dressed up fer me. P'raps that's what bein' fine folks is all about – dressin' up real nice an' talkin' purty with the right folks an' sassin' anyone who don' think so. It's not all so friendly like it sounds, but neither's Papa an' the kids at home. Mebbe I could git used to it after a while.
Only person what ever talked purty with me were yonder nigger, Robinson. And that Mr Finch, but he were an old hell-devil – he knowed what he were doin', tryin' to make Papa out left handed an' sassin' me 'cause I ain't got nobody my age I can talk to. But Robinson were different. He were always askin' if I wanted kindlin' an' choppin' an' chiffarobes bustin' up an' tryin' ter help me. Not nobody ever did one thing for me – if you want sumthin' doin' you do it yersel', or it ain't done. He were always fixin' things up an' treatin' me all special like, callin' me Miss Mayella an' all. I don't know if I liked it 'cause not nobody ever called me Miss Mayella, an' I used ter think he were sassin' me like Mr Finch, 'cept when I remembered he was a nigger, and niggers hafta. He made like to walk by every day, but I always had a job fer him an' he were always happy doin' it. Anyhow, it were only the things I hafta do 'cause Papa an' the kids're too darn lazy ter do it they'reself. Fine folks get niggers to do that stuff all the time, an' fer a while I liked havin' a nigger of my own. P'raps bein' like fine folks wasn't so hard, I thought; only difference is that fine folks' niggers get paid – they only do it 'cause they need to eat. But Robinson wouldn't take a nickel from me – he said he knowed I needed it fer the kids an' Papa hardly helped me none. I don't know if I liked it; I didn't know what he wanted in return or how he'd get himsel' fed but I thought pr'aps he just liked fixin' things up like me, like the fine folks do. Well, I ain't never heard of a fine nigger afore, but he sho' acted like one, only 'cept he didn't want ter get paid an' didn't give me no fine folk sass an' didn't dress nice an' didn't care he was talkin' to a white girl. He wasn't a proper fine folk, but the nigger treated me real purty an' wasn't sassin' me or nuthin'. Sometimes I wondered if he were too nice ter be real like, but he did some real nice things.
It were nice to know somebody else in this stinkin' nigger nest were tryin' ter live clean-like. Sometimes I thought of just the two of us sittin' in the O.K Café on a Sunday mornin'– not drinkin' nuthin, just sittin' an' talkin' like fine folks. I'd pick up an ole can of white paint from the dump so not nobody knew he were a nigger an' we'd talk about all the fine fancy things an' the Maycomb Tribune an' then go to Church with the fine folks. Or I'd go bust up chiffarobes with him, only I ain't strong enough an' I'm a girl an' I ain't a nigger.
I were waterin' my flowers one day an' across the back of the dump I saw a nigger kissin' another nigger on the cheek. I ain't never told nobody this. I thought about hollerin' at them 'cause it weren't right in broad daylight, but I thought I'd better not. The other nigger kissed him back. I knowed I owed it to Tom Robinson ter be neighbourly to his kind, 'cause he'd never take my nickels. After all, kissin' on the cheek is only like shakin' hands or somthin'. Anyhow, Papa'd prolly holler at them later, so I made like to look away. Then I began thinking. I'm nineteen an' a half an' I never kissed a man before, an' I thought well, if Robinson's goin' on bein' friendly-like I might as well kiss a nigger. I mean, what else do I got? What Papa do don't count, an he ain't never done nuthin' nice or talked to me purty in my life. I thought, I never know nuthin' till I try, an' Tom Robinson wouldn't dare tell nobody. Nobody'd know if I got the kids away an' Papa were out.
Well, it took a while, but I finally done it. The kids were out, Papa were off in the swamp, an' there were nobody about. I told him ter fix the door ter get him inside the porch, an' he did it like a good nigger. I s'pose I never thought about how to keep him from running off, so I told him ter stand on a chair ter fetch me something. I wasn't really thinking; I grabbed him round the legs an' o' course, he fell down. He was terrified; I'd a bin too if I was a nigger, but I told him there was nobody about. I kissed him on the cheek like I saw the niggers that one time, an' asked him ter kiss me back. It wasn't that bad – it wasn't like I were molestin' him or nuthin' an' it didn't look unfittin' ter do – but he were real scared. He told me to let him outta there, but he didn't push me or nuthin' so I didn't think it were that awful fer him ter do one more thing fer me – until Papa came cussin' up the front door an' I let him run.
I can't say what Papa did to me; it all happened so quick. But it hurt. I s'pose it taught me that fine folks don't kiss niggers; I'd knowed that anyhow. It weren't nuthin' new; often when Papa's riled, he… well, he's riled. I'd knowed kissin' a nigger weren't right – I knowed it afore I got taken outta kindergarten. Mebbe Papa c'n teach me a thing or two 'bout bein' fine folks; about talkin' purty ter the right folks. Tom Robinson shouldn't never have talked purty ter me. He never took advantage of me; he never touched a hair on my head. Mebbe talkin' purty to a white girl is just as bad. I never knowed what he wanted from all that – I thought he'd want what all men want – but I went an' I kissed him an' he were real scared, an' p'raps he weren't askin' for a court trial. I don't know what's gonna happen to him. If we win, Papa won't kill me. If he wins, he won't hang. Papa said he'd just shoot the poor nigger instead. I never thought 'bout all this afore I kissed the nigger; I never thought it'd kill him. I thought I'd gotten rid of Papa an' the kids enough fer two minutes alone for a while. Tom Robinson never did one thing but sing his heart out fer me an' Papa an' the kids, an' now God knows what'll happen to him. It tears me apart. It's not even like it's me or him, but I gotta stick ter my story, an' mebbe we won't both get killed. Nobody'll stop the law an' nobody'll stop Papa. I guess it's just what happens with fine folks. At worst, one more nigger'll hang come Sunday, an' my story ain't gonna make one scrap o' difference 'cause afterall, not nobody loves a nigger. But it took me a slap year ter save them seb'n nickels…