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Chapter 4

      The remainder of my schooldays were no more auspicious than the first. Indeed, theywere an endless Project that slowly evolved into a Unit, in which miles of constructionpaper and wax crayon were expended by the State of Alabama in its well-meaning butfruitless efforts to teach me Group Dynamics. What Jem called the Dewey DecimalSystem was school-wide by the end of my first year, so I had no chance to compare itwith other teaching techniques. I could only look around me: Atticus and my uncle, whowent to school at home, knew everything—at least, what one didn’t know the other did.

  Furthermore, I couldn’t help noticing that my father had served for years in the statelegislature, elected each time without opposition, innocent of the adjustments myteachers thought essential to the development of Good Citizenship. Jem, educated on ahalf-Decimal half-Duncecap basis, seemed to function effectively alone or in a group,but Jem was a poor example: no tutorial system devised by man could have stoppedhim from getting at books. As for me, I knew nothing except what I gathered from Timemagazine and reading everything I could lay hands on at home, but as I inchedsluggishly along the treadmill of the Maycomb County school system, I could not helpreceiving the impression that I was being cheated out of something. Out of what I knewnot, yet I did not believe that twelve years of unrelieved boredom was exactly what thestate had in mind for me.

  As the year passed, released from school thirty minutes before Jem, who had to stayuntil three o’clock, I ran by the Radley Place as fast as I could, not stopping until Ireached the safety of our front porch. One afternoon as I raced by, something caughtmy eye and caught it in such a way that I took a deep breath, a long look around, andwent back.

  Two live oaks stood at the edge of the Radley lot; their roots reached out into the side-road and made it bumpy. Something about one of the trees attracted my attention.

  Some tinfoil was sticking in a knot-hole just above my eye level, winking at me in theafternoon sun. I stood on tiptoe, hastily looked around once more, reached into the hole,and withdrew two pieces of chewing gum minus their outer wrappers.

  My first impulse was to get it into my mouth as quickly as possible, but I rememberedwhere I was. I ran home, and on our front porch I examined my loot. The gum lookedfresh. I sniffed it and it smelled all right. I licked it and waited for a while. When I did notdie I crammed it into my mouth: Wrigley’s Double-Mint.

  When Jem came home he asked me where I got such a wad. I told him I found it.

  “Don’t eat things you find, Scout.”

  “This wasn’t on the ground, it was in a tree.”

  Jem growled.

  “Well it was,” I said. “It was sticking in that tree yonder, the one comin‘ from school.”

  “Spit it out right now!”

  I spat it out. The tang was fading, anyway. “I’ve been chewin‘ it all afternoon and I ain’tdead yet, not even sick.”

  Jem stamped his foot. “Don’t you know you’re not supposed to even touch the treesover there? You’ll get killed if you do!”

  “You touched the house once!”

  “That was different! You go gargle—right now, you hear me?”

  “Ain’t neither, it’ll take the taste outa my mouth.”

  “You don’t ‘n’ I’ll tell Calpurnia on you!”

  Rather than risk a tangle with Calpurnia, I did as Jem told me. For some reason, myfirst year of school had wrought a great change in our relationship: Calpurnia’s tyranny,unfairness, and meddling in my business had faded to gentle grumblings of generaldisapproval. On my part, I went to much trouble, sometimes, not to provoke her.

  Summer was on the way; Jem and I awaited it with impatience. Summer was our bestseason: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in thetreehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parchedlandscape; but most of all, summer was Dill.

  The authorities released us early the last day of school, and Jem and I walked hometogether. “Reckon old Dill’ll be coming home tomorrow,” I said.

  “Probably day after,” said Jem. “Mis’sippi turns ‘em loose a day later.”

  As we came to the live oaks at the Radley Place I raised my finger to point for thehundredth time to the knot-hole where I had found the chewing gum, trying to make Jembelieve I had found it there, and found myself pointing at another piece of tinfoil.

  “I see it, Scout! I see it-”

  Jem looked around, reached up, and gingerly pocketed a tiny shiny package. We ranhome, and on the front porch we looked at a small box patchworked with bits of tinfoilcollected from chewing-gum wrappers. It was the kind of box wedding rings came in,purple velvet with a minute catch. Jem flicked open the tiny catch. Inside were twoscrubbed and polished pennies, one on top of the other. Jem examined them.

  “Indian-heads,” he said. “Nineteen-six and Scout, one of em’s nineteen-hundred.

  These are real old.”

  “Nineteen-hundred,” I echoed. “Say-”

  “Hush a minute, I’m thinkin‘.”

  “Jem, you reckon that’s somebody’s hidin‘ place?”

  “Naw, don’t anybody much but us pass by there, unless it’s some grown person’s-”

  “Grown folks don’t have hidin‘ places. You reckon we ought to keep ’em, Jem?”

  “I don’t know what we could do, Scout. Who’d we give ‘em back to? I know for a factdon’t anybody go by there—Cecil goes by the back street an’ all the way around by townto get home.”

  Cecil Jacobs, who lived at the far end of our street next door to the post office, walkeda total of one mile per school day to avoid the Radley Place and old Mrs. HenryLafayette Dubose. Mrs. Dubose lived two doors up the street from us; neighborhoodopinion was unanimous that Mrs. Dubose was the meanest old woman who ever lived.

  Jem wouldn’t go by her place without Atticus beside him.

  “What you reckon we oughta do, Jem?”

  Finders were keepers unless title was proven. Plucking an occasional camellia, gettinga squirt of hot milk from Miss Maudie Atkinson’s cow on a summer day, helpingourselves to someone’s scuppernongs was part of our ethical culture, but money wasdifferent.

  “Tell you what,” said Jem. “We’ll keep ‘em till school starts, then go around and askeverybody if they’re theirs. They’re some bus child’s, maybe—he was too taken up withgettin’ outa school today an‘ forgot ’em. These are somebody’s, I know that. See howthey’ve been slicked up? They’ve been saved.”

  “Yeah, but why should somebody wanta put away chewing gum like that? You know itdoesn’t last.”

  “I don’t know, Scout. But these are important to somebody…”

  “How’s that, Jem…?”

  “Well, Indian-heads—well, they come from the Indians. They’re real strong magic, theymake you have good luck. Not like fried chicken when you’re not lookin‘ for it, but thingslike long life ’n‘ good health, ’n‘ passin’ six-weeks tests… these are real valuable tosomebody. I’m gonna put em in my trunk.”

  Before Jem went to his room, he looked for a long time at the Radley Place. Heseemed to be thinking again.

  Two days later Dill arrived in a blaze of glory: he had ridden the train by himself fromMeridian to Maycomb Junction (a courtesy title—Maycomb Junction was in AbbottCounty) where he had been met by Miss Rachel in Maycomb’s one taxi; he had eatendinner in the diner, he had seen two twins hitched together get off the train in Bay St.

  Louis and stuck to his story regardless of threats. He had discarded the abominableblue shorts that were buttoned to his shirts and wore real short pants with a belt; he wassomewhat heavier, no taller, and said he had seen his father. Dill’s father was taller thanours, he had a black beard (pointed), and was president of the L & N Railroad.

  “I helped the engineer for a while,” said Dill, yawning.

  “In a pig’s ear you did, Dill. Hush,” said Jem. “What’ll we play today?”

  “Tom and Sam and Dick,” said Dill. “Let’s go in the front yard.” Dill wanted the RoverBoys because there were three respectable parts. He was clearly tired of being ourcharacter man.

  “I’m tired of those,” I said. I was tired of playing Tom Rover, who suddenly lost hismemory in the middle of a picture show and was out of the script until the end, when hewas found in Alaska.

  “Make us up one, Jem,” I said.

  “I’m tired of makin‘ ’em up.”

  Our first days of freedom, and we were tired. I wondered what the summer wouldbring.

  We had strolled to the front yard, where Dill stood looking down the street at thedreary face of the Radley Place. “I—smell—death,” he said. “I do, I mean it,” he said,when I told him to shut up.

  “You mean when somebody’s dyin‘ you can smell it?”

  “No, I mean I can smell somebody an‘ tell if they’re gonna die. An old lady taught mehow.” Dill leaned over and sniffed me. “Jean—Louise—Finch, you are going to die inthree days.”

  “Dill if you don’t hush I’ll knock you bowlegged. I mean it, now-”

  “Yawl hush,” growled Jem, “you act like you believe in Hot Steams.”

  “You act like you don’t,” I said.

  “What’s a Hot Steam?” asked Dill.

  “Haven’t you ever walked along a lonesome road at night and passed by a hot place?”

  Jem asked Dill. “A Hot Steam’s somebody who can’t get to heaven, just wallows aroundon lonesome roads an‘ if you walk through him, when you die you’ll be one too, an’ you’llgo around at night suckin‘ people’s breath-”

  “How can you keep from passing through one?”

  “You can’t,” said Jem. “Sometimes they stretch all the way across the road, but if youhafta go through one you say, ‘Angel-bright, life-in-death; get off the road, don’t suck mybreath.’ That keeps ‘em from wrapping around you-”

  “Don’t you believe a word he says, Dill,” I said. “Calpurnia says that’s nigger-talk.”

  Jem scowled darkly at me, but said, “Well, are we gonna play anything or not?”

  “Let’s roll in the tire,” I suggested.

  Jem sighed. “You know I’m too big.”

  “You c’n push.”

  I ran to the back yard and pulled an old car tire from under the house. I slapped it upto the front yard. “I’m first,” I said.

  Dill said he ought to be first, he just got here.

  Jem arbitrated, awarded me first push with an extra time for Dill, and I folded myselfinside the tire.

  Until it happened I did not realize that Jem was offended by my contradicting him onHot Steams, and that he was patiently awaiting an opportunity to reward me. He did, bypushing the tire down the sidewalk with all the force in his body. Ground, sky andhouses melted into a mad palette, my ears throbbed, I was suffocating. I could not putout my hands to stop, they were wedged between my chest and knees. I could onlyhope that Jem would outrun the tire and me, or that I would be stopped by a bump in thesidewalk. I heard him behind me, chasing and shouting.

  The tire bumped on gravel, skeetered across the road, crashed into a barrier andpopped me like a cork onto pavement. Dizzy and nauseated, I lay on the cement andshook my head still, pounded my ears to silence, and heard Jem’s voice: “Scout, getaway from there, come on!”

  I raised my head and stared at the Radley Place steps in front of me. I froze.

  “Come on, Scout, don’t just lie there!” Jem was screaming. “Get up, can’tcha?”

  I got to my feet, trembling as I thawed.

  “Get the tire!” Jem hollered. “Bring it with you! Ain’t you got any sense at all?”

  When I was able to navigate, I ran back to them as fast as my shaking knees wouldcarry me.

  “Why didn’t you bring it?” Jem yelled.

  “Why don’t you get it?” I screamed.

  Jem was silent.

  “Go on, it ain’t far inside the gate. Why, you even touched the house once,remember?”

  Jem looked at me furiously, could not decline, ran down the sidewalk, treaded water atthe gate, then dashed in and retrieved the tire.

  “See there?” Jem was scowling triumphantly. “Nothin‘ to it. I swear, Scout, sometimesyou act so much like a girl it’s mortifyin’.”

  There was more to it than he knew, but I decided not to tell him.

  Calpurnia appeared in the front door and yelled, “Lemonade time! You all get in outathat hot sun ‘fore you fry alive!” Lemonade in the middle of the morning was asummertime ritual. Calpurnia set a pitcher and three glasses on the porch, then wentabout her business. Being out of Jem’s good graces did not worry me especially.

  Lemonade would restore his good humor.

  Jem gulped down his second glassful and slapped his chest. “I know what we aregoing to play,” he announced. “Something new, something different.”

  “What?” asked Dill.

  “Boo Radley.”

  Jem’s head at times was transparent: he had thought that up to make me understandhe wasn’t afraid of Radleys in any shape or form, to contrast his own fearless heroismwith my cowardice.

  “Boo Radley? How?” asked Dill.

  Jem said, “Scout, you can be Mrs. Radley-”

  “I declare if I will. I don’t think-”

  “‘Smatter?” said Dill. “Still scared?”

  “He can get out at night when we’re all asleep…” I said.

  Jem hissed. “Scout, how’s he gonna know what we’re doin‘? Besides, I don’t thinkhe’s still there. He died years ago and they stuffed him up the chimney.”

  Dill said, “Jem, you and me can play and Scout can watch if she’s scared.”

  I was fairly sure Boo Radley was inside that house, but I couldn’t prove it, and felt itbest to keep my mouth shut or I would be accused of believing in Hot Steams,phenomena I was immune to in the daytime.

  Jem parceled out our roles: I was Mrs. Radley, and all I had to do was come out andsweep the porch. Dill was old Mr. Radley: he walked up and down the sidewalk andcoughed when Jem spoke to him. Jem, naturally, was Boo: he went under the frontsteps and shrieked and howled from time to time.

  As the summer progressed, so did our game. We polished and perfected it, addeddialogue and plot until we had manufactured a small play upon which we rang changesevery day.

  Dill was a villain’s villain: he could get into any character part assigned him, andappear tall if height was part of the devilry required. He was as good as his worstperformance; his worst performance was Gothic. I reluctantly played assorted ladieswho entered the script. I never thought it as much fun as Tarzan, and I played thatsummer with more than vague anxiety despite Jem’s assurances that Boo Radley wasdead and nothing would get me, with him and Calpurnia there in the daytime and Atticushome at night.

  Jem was a born hero.

  It was a melancholy little drama, woven from bits and scraps of gossip andneighborhood legend: Mrs. Radley had been beautiful until she married Mr. Radley andlost all her money. She also lost most of her teeth, her hair, and her right forefinger(Dill’s contribution. Boo bit it off one night when he couldn’t find any cats and squirrels toeat.); she sat in the livingroom and cried most of the time, while Boo slowly whittledaway all the furniture in the house.

  The three of us were the boys who got into trouble; I was the probate judge, for achange; Dill led Jem away and crammed him beneath the steps, poking him with thebrushbroom. Jem would reappear as needed in the shapes of the sheriff, assortedtownsfolk, and Miss Stephanie Crawford, who had more to say about the Radleys thananybody in Maycomb.

  When it was time to play Boo’s big scene, Jem would sneak into the house, steal thescissors from the sewing-machine drawer when Calpurnia’s back was turned, then sit inthe swing and cut up newspapers. Dill would walk by, cough at Jem, and Jem wouldfake a plunge into Dill’s thigh. From where I stood it looked real.

  When Mr. Nathan Radley passed us on his daily trip to town, we would stand still andsilent until he was out of sight, then wonder what he would do to us if he suspected. Ouractivities halted when any of the neighbors appeared, and once I saw Miss MaudieAtkinson staring across the street at us, her hedge clippers poised in midair.

  One day we were so busily playing Chapter XXV, Book II of One Man’s Family, we didnot see Atticus standing on the sidewalk looking at us, slapping a rolled magazineagainst his knee. The sun said twelve noon.

  “What are you all playing?” he asked.

  “Nothing,” said Jem.

  Jem’s evasion told me our game was a secret, so I kept quiet.

  “What are you doing with those scissors, then? Why are you tearing up thatnewspaper? If it’s today’s I’ll tan you.”

  “Nothing.”

  “Nothing what?” said Atticus.

  “Nothing, sir.”

  “Give me those scissors,” Atticus said. “They’re no things to play with. Does this byany chance have anything to do with the Radleys?”

  “No sir,” said Jem, reddening.

  “I hope it doesn’t,” he said shortly, and went inside the house.

  “Je-m…”

  “Shut up! He’s gone in the livingroom, he can hear us in there.”

  Safely in the yard, Dill asked Jem if we could play any more.

  “I don’t know. Atticus didn’t say we couldn’t-”

  “Jem,” I said, “I think Atticus knows it anyway.”

  “No he don’t. If he did he’d say he did.”

  I was not so sure, but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls always imagined things,that’s why other people hated them so, and if I started behaving like one I could just gooff and find some to play with.

  “All right, you just keep it up then,” I said. “You’ll find out.”

  Atticus’s arrival was the second reason I wanted to quit the game. The first reasonhappened the day I rolled into the Radley front yard. Through all the head-shaking,quelling of nausea and Jem-yelling, I had heard another sound, so low I could not haveheard it from the sidewalk. Someone inside the house was laughing.

后来在学校的日子跟第一天一样不顺心。的确,那是个不知何年何月才能完成的教学计划,这计划渐渐发展成为一个教学单元。在这个单元里,亚拉巴马州好心好意地花费了几英里长的手工纸和彩色蜡笔,想教我在小组中做手工,但毫无结果。杰姆说的杜威十进法在我上学的第一年年底已在全校铺开。所以,我没有机会把它与其他教学方法相比较,只能观察周围的人:阿迪克斯和我叔叔在家接受教育,他们什么都知遭——起码,这个不知道的那个知道。并且我还注意到,爸爸在州立法机构工作多年,每次当选,无人反对。我们老师认为,当一个标准公民所必不可少的那些条条框框他可不知道。杰姆既受益于新方法,也领教过惩罚制,看起来,无论单独学习或在小组中,他学得都比较好但是杰姆这个例子不太好:没有谁发明的教学方法能够使他不读书。至于我,除了从《时代》杂志上以及在家里自己看书学来的知识外一无所知。随着梅科姆县单调的教学方法的进展,我得到的唯一印象是我的某种东西被骗走了,到底是什么东西我不清楚,反正我不相信州政府为我打算的就是让我在这儿受十二年折磨。
时间在慢慢流逝。每天我比杰姆早三十分钟放学,他不到三点不能离校。我尽快地跑过拉德利家,一口气跑到我家前廊的安全地带才停下来。一天下午,我跑过时突然看见什么东西,这东西强烈地吸引了我:我深深地吸了一口气,朝周围仔细张望了一番,又返回去。
拉德利家的地界边缘上有两棵常青橡树,树根延伸列人行道上,使路而拱起来。其中一棵树上有个什么东西吸引了我的注意力。
在比我的眼睛略高的树节孔里粘着一些锡箔纸,在阳光下闪闪发光。我踮起脚,匆匆朝周围扫视了一遍,把手伸进小洞,意外地掏出了两块不带包装纸的口香糖。
我的第一个念头是立刻把它放进嘴里,可是又想起了这是什么地方。我跑回家,在前廊上仔细查看了我的这件战利品。这糖看上去挺新鲜。我闻了闻,气味也正常;用舌头舔一下,等了一会儿,我并没有死,于是把它塞进嘴里。
杰姆回来后问我从哪儿弄来的口香糖,我告诉他是捡到的。
“斯各特,别吃捡来的东西。”
“不是在地上,是在树上拾的。”
杰姆咆哮起来。
“是真的,”我说,“是粘在那边的树上的,从学校过来的那棵。”
“快吐出来!’
我吐了,糖味没有了。我说:“我嚼了一个下午,没死也没病。”
杰姆跺着脚,说;“你不知道你不该碰那棵树吗;碰了,你就会没命。”
你还摸过那栋房子呢。”
“那是另外一回事!快去漱口,听见没有?”
“不,会把糖味漱掉的。”
“不去我就告诉卡尔珀尼亚。”
因为不愿意与卡尔珀尼亚发生纠纷,我照杰姆的要求做了。因为某种原因,我在学校的第一年使我和她的关系有了很大变化;卡尔珀尼亚原来专横,不公正,喜欢干涉我的事。现在也常常对我不满意,但顶多是温和地抱怨几甸。我有时候也尽力不去惹她。
夏天就要来了;我和杰姆急不可待。夏天是我们最好的季节:夏天意味着睡在装着纱窗的后廊上的帆布床上,或者睡在树上的小屋里;夏天有很多好吃的;夏天,在阳光照耀下风景秀丽,色彩斑斓。但最主要的是,夏天意味着我们会跟遗尔一起玩。
学期的最后一天,学校很早就放学了。杰姆和我一起回家。“我想,迪尔这家伙明天就会来。”我说。
“可能耍到后天,”杰姆说,“密西西比州放假要晚一天。”
来到托德利家的橡树前,我伸手指着我找到口香糖的树节洞——我指过近百次了——想让杰姆相信我是在那儿找到的,突然发现自己在指着另一张锡箔纸。
“我看见了,斯各特,我看见了……’
杰姆朝周围看了看,伸手小心翼翼地把一个发光的小纸包放进口袋。我们跑回家,在前廊上,我们仔细检查了得到的这个小盒子。这是用包口香糖的锡蒲纸一点点拼凑起来的,样子象装结婚戒指的小盒,用紫红色的丝绒装饰着,带有一个精巧的小搭扣。杰姆轻轻打开搭扣,里面是两枚擦得光亮的面值一便士的硬币,一上一下叠放着。杰姆反复看了看。
“印第安人头像,”他说,“1906,这个是1900。真的是很久以前的旧币。”
“1900,”我重复了一句,“那么说……”
“先别做声,我正在思考。”
“杰姆,你认为那是谁藏东西的地方吗?”
“不,除了我们,别人一般不从那儿经过,隐非是大人的……”
“大人不会有藏东西的地方。你看我们应该把钱留下吗,杰姆?”
“我不知道该怎么办,斯各特。我们退给谁呢?我敢肯定别人不从那儿经过——塞西尔走后街,从镇上绕个圈回家。”
塞西尔?雅各布住在我们这条街的尽头,他家的隔壁是邮政局。为了避开拉德利家和亨利?拉斐特?杜博斯太太,他每天上学多走一英里路。杜博斯太太和我们同住一条街,中间只隔两家。邻居们都认为她是最坏的女人。没有阿迪克斯陪着,杰姆从不愿意从她家门前经过。
“杰姆,我们怎么办?”
找不到失主,谁捡酌就归谁所有。偶尔摘一朵山茶花;夏天,从莫迪-阿特金森的奶牛身上挤点奶;有时,偷吃点别人的葡萄,这些做法都不超出本地的常理,可是钱却不同。
“我有个主意,”杰姆说,“我们先拿着,开学后再去打听看是谁的。可能是某个乘公共汽车上学的同学的——可能是急着回家忘记拿了。我知道这钱肯定总是某个人的。看这钱表面多光滑,肯定是谁积攒下的。’
“是的,可是为什么有的人把口香糖这样放起来呢?你知道,糖会化的。’
“我不知遭,斯各特。这些钱对某个人是重要的……”
“为什么?”
“看,印第安人头像——是印第安人传下来的。这钱有真正的魔力,会给人带来好运气的。这跟你意外地找到炸鸡不一样,而是象长寿、健康一样,氖通过了六周一次的考试一样……对某个人来说,确实有真正的价值。我要把钱放在箱子里。”
杰姆在回到自己房间以前,对着拉德利家看了好长时间,好象又在思考着什么。
两天后,迪尔神气十足地来了;他一个人乘火车从梅里迪安来到梅科姆车站(这是一种礼节上的称呼——梅科姆车站在艾博特县),在那儿,雷切尔小姐雇了梅科姆县唯一的出租汽车去接他;他在餐车吃的午饭,在圣?路易斯湾看见一对连体双胞胎下火车。他不顾我们的威胁,坚持要讲他的故事。他已丢掉了那讨厌的用扣子扣到衬衣上的蓝短裤,换了一条真正的短裤,还系上了皮带。他好象胖了点,但和以前一样矮。他还说看见了他爸爸。迪尔的爸爸比我们的爸爸高,有黑胡子(尖尖的)。他是莱思铁路公司的经理。
“我帮着火车司机干了一会儿。”迪尔打着呵欠说。
“鬼晓得你帮着干了,迪尔!别说了。”杰姆说,“我们今天演什么戏?”
“演托姆、山姆,迪克。”迪尔说,“我们到前院去吧。”迪尔要演《罗弗家的男孩》是因为里面有三个了不起的人物。很明显,他不愿意总演同一类角色。
“我讨厌这些角色,”我说。我不愿演托姆?罗弗,他在一次演电影时突然失去了记忆力,从剧本上消失了。直到最后才在阿拉斯加发现了他。
“你给我们编一个吧,杰姆。”我说。
“我不愿意编了。”
别刚放假几天,我们这也讨厌,那也不愿,我不知道整个夏天怎么过。.
我们来到前院,迪尔远望着拉德利家灰暗的房子。“我……闻……到一股死人昧。”他说。我叫他别瞎说,他回答说,“真的闻到了。”
“你是说人快死的时候你能闻出来?”
“不!我是说可以闻一闻一个人,然后说他是不是快要死了。这是一个老太婆教给我的。”迪尔靠过来闻了闻我。“琼?路易斯,你三天后会死。”
“迪尔,再不住嘴我就打瘸你的腿。我说话算话。”
“住嘴!”杰姆起来,“看样子你相信‘热气’。”
“看样子你不信罗。”我说。
“什么是‘热气’?”迪尔问。
“晚上你走在无人的路上,经过一个热地方,这你经历过吗?”杰姆问迪尔。“热气’就是不能上天堂的人,他只能在路上徘徊,要是你从他身边走过,死后你电跟他一样。晚上你会四处游荡去吸别人的气……”
“有办法能避免从他身边走过吗?”
“你避免不了,”杰姆说,“有时候路上到处都是。但是,如果你不得不从边上走过,你就说,‘光明的守护神,我活得比死还难过;别挡我的路,别吸我的气。’这样,他就不会缠你了。”
“别昕他胡扯,迪尔。”我说,“卡尔珀尼亚说那是黑人们说的。”
杰姆恶狠狠地瞪了我一眼,然后说,“喂,到底玩点什么不?”
“我们滚轮胎吧。”我提议说。
杰姆叹了口气说:“你知道稳个子太大了。”
“你可以推嘛。”
我跑到后院,从楼板和地面之间的空隙处拖出个旧轮胎,然后滚到前院。“我先坐进去。”我说。
迪尔说应该让他先坐,他才玩。
最后由杰姆决定,让我先坐,让迪尔多坐一次。我蜷缩身子钻进车胎的内圈。
直到后来我才想起,因为我反驳了杰姆说的“热气”,触怒了他。他正耐心地等待机会“奖赏”我呢。他真的这样千了。他使出全身力气在人行道上猛滚轮胎。地面、天空、房屋,还有人行道交融在一起,变成了一个五颜六色的调色板。我的耳朵嗡嗡地响,胸口闷得透不过气,两手夹在胸脯和双膝之间,无法伸出米阻止滚动。我只能希望杰姆跑过轮胎,或者轮眙撞到人行道上的什么东西后停下来。我听见他在后边跑着,叫着。
轮胎撞在砾石上,滑到路的另一侧,碰上障碍物,象扔软木采似的把我抛到路面上。我躺在水泥地上,头晕,日眩,恶心。我摇摇头,拍拍耳朵,直到平静下来才昕到杰姆的喊声:“斯各特,离开那儿,快点!”
我抬起头看到眼前就是拉德利家的台阶时,身上的血都凝固了。
“快点,斯各特,别躺在那儿!”杰姆叫喊善,“能起来吗?”
身上的血流动了,我战战兢兢地爬起来。
“拿超轮胎,”杰姆叫着,“把轮胎带过来!你还有知觉没有?”
能走了,我双膝颤抖,竭尽全力朝他们一飞速跑去。
“为什么不把轮胎带过来?”杰姆尖叫着。
“你怎么不去拿?”我高声地说。
杰姆不说话了。
“去,轮胎在进大门不远的地方,怕什么,你还摸过一次房子呢,不记得啦?”
杰姆愤怒地望着我,但他没法拒绝,便从人行道上跑过去,踏着大门旁的积水走过去,然后冲进大门拿回轮胎。
“看见了吗?”杰姆得意地说,“什么事也没有。筏发誓,有时候你的行动女孩子气太重,简直叫人受不了。”
这中间还有别的事他不知道呢,可我决定不告诉他。
卡尔珀尼亚出现在前门日,她喊道:“回来喝柠檬水!都给我进来,不然你们会活活晒死的!”我们在夏天的上午常喝柠檬水。
卡尔珀尼亚在前廊上摆上一个罐子、三只玻璃杯,然后千她的事去了。杰姆不满意我,这我并不担心,柠檬水会恢复他的好性子的。
杰姆喝下第二杯后捐拍胸脯。“我们有东西演了,”他宣布说,“演点新东西,演点别的。”
“什么?”迪尔问。
。布-拉德利。”
杰姆的想法有时是容易被人识破的:他的这个主意是想让我知道什么样的拉德利他都不怕,这样他就好让他那蘑不畏惧的英雄气概和我的怯懦形成鲜明的对比。
“布?拉德利?怎么演?”迪尔问。
杰姆说,“斯各特,你可以演拉德利太太……”
“哎呀呀.我决不干。我不认为……”
“有啥关系?”迪尔问,“还害怕?”
“等我们晚上睡觉时他会出来的……”我说。
杰姆嘘了一声。“斯各特,他怎么知道我们干什么?再说,我不相信他还在那儿。几年前他就死了,他们把他塞进了烟囱。”
迪尔说:。杰姆,咱俩演。斯各特害怕就让她看好了。”
我敢肯定布?拉德利在房子里边,可我无法证实。还是少说为佳,要不,他会说我也相信“热气”了。对于那种现象,我在白天是不理会的。
杰姆把角色分派如下:我是拉德剥太太,我要做的就是出来打扫走廊;迪尔是老拉德利先生,他在人行道上走来走去,杰姆打招呼时他只咳嗽一声;杰姆自己当然是布?拉德利,他被关在前面的台阶下,不时嚎哭尖叫。
随着夏天一天天过去,我们的节日一天天进步。我们反复修改加工,增补对话和情节,直到后来变成了一个短剧。在这个基础上,我们每天再加上些新东西。
迪尔真是演反面角色的好料:他演什么象什么,如果对某个反面角色的要求是很高的身材的话,他演出来就好象他很高大似的。他演得最差的也是好戏。哥特式小说他演得最差。我很勉强地扮演这个剧里出现的各种女角色。我认为这出戏没有《人猿泰山》有意思。整整一个夏天,我一边演一边总是心神不安。尽管杰姆保证布?拉德利已死,说我不会出事,因为白天有他和卡尔珀尼亚,晚上有阿迪克斯在家。
杰姆真是天生的英雄。
这是一出由街谈巷议和左邻右舍的传说一点点拼凑而成的有悲伤情调的短剧:拉德利太太原来很漂亮,后来与拉德利先生结了婚,失去了财产。她还失去了很多牙齿,头发也少了,右手的食指也没有了(这是迪尔的独创:,有天晚上,布找不到猫和松鼠吃,就把她的手指咬掉了>。她大部分时间坐在客厅里哭个不停,而布却慢慢地把房间里的家具一点点地削坏了。‘
我们三个都同时扮演那些尽惹麻烦的青年人;为了换换口味,我扮演了遗嘱法官;迪尔把杰姆领回去,把他塞到台阶底下,用扫帚打他几下。按照需要,杰姆以市政官员或者镇上各种人的身分出现。有时他装扮成斯蒂芬尼?克劳福德小姐。在梅科姆县,对拉德利家的情况她比谁都知道得多。
要演布的那个大场面时.杰姆偷偷溜进房间,趁卡尔珀尼亚转身时从缝纫机的抽屉里偷出剪刀,然后坐在悬椅上剪报纸。接着迪尔从他身边走过,朝他咳嗽一声,杰姆假装用剪刀朝迪尔的大腿猛刺。从我站的地方看去,他们演得象真的一样。
内森?拉德利先生每天从我们身边走过到镇上去时,我们都站着不动,也不做声,直到看不见他。然后我们就会猜想,要是他猜到我们在干啥,他会对我们怎么样。只要看见哪个邻居,我们的活动立刻停止。有一次,我看见莫迪?阿特金森小姐在街对面盯着我们,手里拿着的树篱剪刀停在半空中。
一天,我们击紧张地演着《一个人的家庭》第二卷第二十五章时,没注意阿迪克斯正站在人行道上望着我们,手拿一份卷着的杂志拍打着膝盖。头顶上的太阳告诉我们时问已是正午。
“你们在玩什么?”他问。
“没什么。”杰姆说。
杰姆故意掩饰,说明我们的游戏是个秘密,所以我在一边没傲声。
“那么你们用剪刀干什么?为什么撕报纸?如果是今天的报纸,我就要打人了。”
“没什么。”
“没什么?”阿迪克斯问。
“没什么,爸爸。”
“把剪刀给我,”阿迪克斯说,“这不是好玩的。你们的游戏是不是碰巧和拉德利家有关?”
“没有,爸爸。”杰姆红着脸说。
“我希望没有。”他说,然后进屋去了。
“杰姆……”
“别说话,他在客厅,能听见我们说话。”
来到院子里,说话安全了。迪尔问杰姆能不能再演。
“我不知道,阿迪克斯没说我们不能……”
“杰姆,”我说,“我想阿迪克斯无论如何知道了。”
“不,他不知道。要是知道他会讲的。”
我没那么肯定,可杰姆说我这样太女孩子气了。女孩子就是想得太多,难怪很多人恨她们这一点。还说要是我还象女孩子那样的话,最好走开,找别人玩去。
“好吧,那你就继续演吧。”我说,“你会明白的。”
阿迪克斯回来了是我不想再演这个戏的第二个原因。第一个原囚是那天我滚进拉德利家前院。尽管头晕耳鸣,在杰姆的叫喊声中我昕到了另一个声音,声音那么低,我知道不是从人行道上传来的,是房予里面有人在笑。



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