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Chapter 6

      “Yes,” said our father, when Jem asked him if we could go over and sit by MissRachel’s fishpool with Dill, as this was his last night in Maycomb. “Tell him so long forme, and we’ll see him next summer.”

  We leaped over the low wall that separated Miss Rachel’s yard from our driveway.

  Jem whistled bob-white and Dill answered in the darkness.

  “Not a breath blowing,” said Jem. “Looka yonder.”

  He pointed to the east. A gigantic moon was rising behind Miss Maudie’s pecan trees.

  “That makes it seem hotter,” he said.

  “Cross in it tonight?” asked Dill, not looking up. He was constructing a cigarette fromnewspaper and string.

  “No, just the lady. Don’t light that thing, Dill, you’ll stink up this whole end of town.”

  There was a lady in the moon in Maycomb. She sat at a dresser combing her hair.

  “We’re gonna miss you, boy,” I said. “Reckon we better watch for Mr. Avery?”

  Mr. Avery boarded across the street from Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose’s house.

  Besides making change in the collection plate every Sunday, Mr. Avery sat on the porchevery night until nine o’clock and sneezed. One evening we were privileged to witness aperformance by him which seemed to have been his positively last, for he never did itagain so long as we watched. Jem and I were leaving Miss Rachel’s front steps onenight when Dill stopped us: “Golly, looka yonder.” He pointed across the street. At firstwe saw nothing but a kudzu-covered front porch, but a closer inspection revealed an arcof water descending from the leaves and splashing in the yellow circle of the street light,some ten feet from source to earth, it seemed to us. Jem said Mr. Avery misfigured, Dillsaid he must drink a gallon a day, and the ensuing contest to determine relativedistances and respective prowess only made me feel left out again, as I was untalentedin this area.

  Dill stretched, yawned, and said altogether too casually. “I know what, let’s go for awalk.”

  He sounded fishy to me. Nobody in Maycomb just went for a walk. “Where to, Dill?”

  Dill jerked his head in a southerly direction.

  Jem said, “Okay.” When I protested, he said sweetly, “You don’t have to come along,Angel May.”

  “You don’t have to go. Remember-”

  Jem was not one to dwell on past defeats: it seemed the only message he got fromAtticus was insight into the art of cross examination. “Scout, we ain’t gonna do anything,we’re just goin‘ to the street light and back.”

  We strolled silently down the sidewalk, listening to porch swings creaking with theweight of the neighborhood, listening to the soft night-murmurs of the grown people onour street. Occasionally we heard Miss Stephanie Crawford laugh.

  “Well?” said Dill.

  “Okay,” said Jem. “Why don’t you go on home, Scout?”

  “What are you gonna do?”

  Dill and Jem were simply going to peep in the window with the loose shutter to see ifthey could get a look at Boo Radley, and if I didn’t want to go with them I could gostraight home and keep my fat flopping mouth shut, that was all.

  “But what in the sam holy hill did you wait till tonight?”

  Because nobody could see them at night, because Atticus would be so deep in a bookhe wouldn’t hear the Kingdom coming, because if Boo Radley killed them they’d missschool instead of vacation, and because it was easier to see inside a dark house in thedark than in the daytime, did I understand?

  “Jem, please–”

  “Scout, I’m tellin‘ you for the last time, shut your trap or go home—I declare to the Lordyou’re gettin’ more like a girl every day!”

  With that, I had no option but to join them. We thought it was better to go under thehigh wire fence at the rear of the Radley lot, we stood less chance of being seen. Thefence enclosed a large garden and a narrow wooden outhouse.

  Jem held up the bottom wire and motioned Dill under it. I followed, and held up thewire for Jem. It was a tight squeeze for him. “Don’t make a sound,” he whispered. “Don’tget in a row of collards whatever you do, they’ll wake the dead.”

  With this thought in mind, I made perhaps one step per minute. I moved faster when Isaw Jem far ahead beckoning in the moonlight. We came to the gate that divided thegarden from the back yard. Jem touched it. The gate squeaked.

  “Spit on it,” whispered Dill.

  “You’ve got us in a box, Jem,” I muttered. “We can’t get out of here so easy.”

  “Sh-h. Spit on it, Scout.”

  We spat ourselves dry, and Jem opened the gate slowly, lifting it aside and resting iton the fence. We were in the back yard.

  The back of the Radley house was less inviting than the front: a ramshackle porch ranthe width of the house; there were two doors and two dark windows between the doors.

  Instead of a column, a rough two-by-four supported one end of the roof. An old Franklinstove sat in a corner of the porch; above it a hat-rack mirror caught the moon and shoneeerily.

  “Ar-r,” said Jem softly, lifting his foot.

  “‘Smatter?”

  “Chickens,” he breathed.

  That we would be obliged to dodge the unseen from all directions was confirmed whenDill ahead of us spelled G-o-d in a whisper. We crept to the side of the house, around tothe window with the hanging shutter. The sill was several inches taller than Jem.

  “Give you a hand up,” he muttered to Dill. “Wait, though.” Jem grabbed his left wristand my right wrist, I grabbed my left wrist and Jem’s right wrist, we crouched, and Dillsat on our saddle. We raised him and he caught the window sill.

  “Hurry,” Jem whispered, “we can’t last much longer.”

  Dill punched my shoulder, and we lowered him to the ground.

  “What’d you see?”

  “Nothing. Curtains. There’s a little teeny light way off somewhere, though.”

  “Let’s get away from here,” breathed Jem. “Let’s go ‘round in back again. Sh-h,” hewarned me, as I was about to protest.

  “Let’s try the back window.”

  “Dill, no,” I said.

  Dill stopped and let Jem go ahead. When Jem put his foot on the bottom step, thestep squeaked. He stood still, then tried his weight by degrees. The step was silent. Jemskipped two steps, put his foot on the porch, heaved himself to it, and teetered a longmoment. He regained his balance and dropped to his knees. He crawled to the window,raised his head and looked in.

  Then I saw the shadow. It was the shadow of a man with a hat on. At first I thought itwas a tree, but there was no wind blowing, and tree-trunks never walked. The backporch was bathed in moonlight, and the shadow, crisp as toast, moved across the porchtoward Jem.

  Dill saw it next. He put his hands to his face.

  When it crossed Jem, Jem saw it. He put his arms over his head and went rigid.

  The shadow stopped about a foot beyond Jem. Its arm came out from its side,dropped, and was still. Then it turned and moved back across Jem, walked along theporch and off the side of the house, returning as it had come.

  Jem leaped off the porch and galloped toward us. He flung open the gate, danced Dilland me through, and shooed us between two rows of swishing collards. Halfwaythrough the collards I tripped; as I tripped the roar of a shotgun shattered theneighborhood.

  Dill and Jem dived beside me. Jem’s breath came in sobs: “Fence by theschoolyard!—hurry, Scout!”

  Jem held the bottom wire; Dill and I rolled through and were halfway to the shelter ofthe schoolyard’s solitary oak when we sensed that Jem was not with us. We ran backand found him struggling in the fence, kicking his pants off to get loose. He ran to theoak tree in his shorts.

  Safely behind it, we gave way to numbness, but Jem’s mind was racing: “We gotta gethome, they’ll miss us.”

  We ran across the schoolyard, crawled under the fence to Deer’s Pasture behind ourhouse, climbed our back fence and were at the back steps before Jem would let uspause to rest.

  Respiration normal, the three of us strolled as casually as we could to the front yard.

  We looked down the street and saw a circle of neighbors at the Radley front gate.

  “We better go down there,” said Jem. “They’ll think it’s funny if we don’t show up.”

  Mr. Nathan Radley was standing inside his gate, a shotgun broken across his arm.

  Atticus was standing beside Miss Maudie and Miss Stephanie Crawford. Miss Racheland Mr. Avery were near by. None of them saw us come up.

  We eased in beside Miss Maudie, who looked around. “Where were you all, didn’t youhear the commotion?”

  “What happened?” asked Jem.

  “Mr. Radley shot at a Negro in his collard patch.”

  “Oh. Did he hit him?”

  “No,” said Miss Stephanie. “Shot in the air. Scared him pale, though. Says if anybodysees a white nigger around, that’s the one. Says he’s got the other barrel waitin‘ for thenext sound he hears in that patch, an’ next time he won’t aim high, be it dog, nigger,or—Jem Finch!”

  “Ma’am?” asked Jem.

  Atticus spoke. “Where’re your pants, son?”

  “Pants, sir?”

  “Pants.”

  It was no use. In his shorts before God and everybody. I sighed.

  “Ah—Mr. Finch?”

  In the glare from the streetlight, I could see Dill hatching one: his eyes widened, his fatcherub face grew rounder.

  “What is it, Dill?” asked Atticus.

  “Ah—I won ‘em from him,” he said vaguely.

  “Won them? How?”

  Dill’s hand sought the back of his head. He brought it forward and across his forehead.

  “We were playin‘ strip poker up yonder by the fishpool,” he said.

  Jem and I relaxed. The neighbors seemed satisfied: they all stiffened. But what wasstrip poker?

  We had no chance to find out: Miss Rachel went off like the town fire siren: “Do-o-oJee-sus, Dill Harris! Gamblin‘ by my fishpool? I’ll strip-poker you, sir!”

  Atticus saved Dill from immediate dismemberment. “Just a minute, Miss Rachel,” hesaid. “I’ve never heard of ‘em doing that before. Were you all playing cards?”

  Jem fielded Dill’s fly with his eyes shut: “No sir, just with matches.”

  I admired my brother. Matches were dangerous, but cards were fatal.

  “Jem, Scout,” said Atticus, “I don’t want to hear of poker in any form again. Go by Dill’sand get your pants, Jem. Settle it yourselves.”

  “Don’t worry, Dill,” said Jem, as we trotted up the sidewalk, “she ain’t gonna get you.

  He’ll talk her out of it. That was fast thinkin‘, son. Listen… you hear?”

  We stopped, and heard Atticus’s voice:“…not serious… they all go through it, MissRachel…”

  Dill was comforted, but Jem and I weren’t. There was the problem of Jem showing upsome pants in the morning.

  “‘d give you some of mine,” said Dill, as we came to Miss Rachel’s steps. Jem said hecouldn’t get in them, but thanks anyway. We said good-bye, and Dill went inside thehouse. He evidently remembered he was engaged to me, for he ran back out and kissedme swiftly in front of Jem. “Yawl write, hear?” he bawled after us.

  Had Jem’s pants been safely on him, we would not have slept much anyway. Everynight-sound I heard from my cot on the back porch was magnified three-fold; everyscratch of feet on gravel was Boo Radley seeking revenge, every passing Negrolaughing in the night was Boo Radley loose and after us; insects splashing against thescreen were Boo Radley’s insane fingers picking the wire to pieces; the chinaberry treeswere malignant, hovering, alive. I lingered between sleep and wakefulness until I heardJem murmur.

  “Sleep, Little Three-Eyes?”

  “Are you crazy?”

  “Sh-h. Atticus’s light’s out.”

  In the waning moonlight I saw Jem swing his feet to the floor.

  “I’m goin‘ after ’em,” he said.

  I sat upright. “You can’t. I won’t let you.”

  He was struggling into his shirt. “I’ve got to.”

  “You do an‘ I’ll wake up Atticus.”

  “You do and I’ll kill you.”

  I pulled him down beside me on the cot. I tried to reason with him. “Mr. Nathan’sgonna find ‘em in the morning, Jem. He knows you lost ’em. When he shows ‘em toAtticus it’ll be pretty bad, that’s all there is to it. Go’n back to bed.”

  “That’s what I know,” said Jem. “That’s why I’m goin‘ after ’em.”

  I began to feel sick. Going back to that place by himself—I remembered MissStephanie: Mr. Nathan had the other barrel waiting for the next sound he heard, be itnigger, dog… Jem knew that better than I.

  I was desperate: “Look, it ain’t worth it, Jem. A lickin‘ hurts but it doesn’t last. You’ll getyour head shot off, Jem. Please…”

  He blew out his breath patiently. “I—it’s like this, Scout,” he muttered. “Atticus ain’tever whipped me since I can remember. I wanta keep it that way.”

  This was a thought. It seemed that Atticus threatened us every other day. “You meanhe’s never caught you at anything.”

  “Maybe so, but—I just wanta keep it that way, Scout. We shouldn’a done that tonight,Scout.”

  It was then, I suppose, that Jem and I first began to part company. Sometimes I didnot understand him, but my periods of bewilderment were short-lived. This was beyondme. “Please,” I pleaded, “can’tcha just think about it for a minute—by yourself on thatplace—”

  “Shut up!”

  “It’s not like he’d never speak to you again or somethin‘… I’m gonna wake him up,Jem, I swear I am—”

  Jem grabbed my pajama collar and wrenched it tight. “Then I’m goin‘ with you—” Ichoked.

  “No you ain’t, you’ll just make noise.”

  It was no use. I unlatched the back door and held it while he crept down the steps. Itmust have been two o’clock. The moon was setting and the lattice-work shadows werefading into fuzzy nothingness. Jem’s white shirt-tail dipped and bobbed like a smallghost dancing away to escape the coming morning. A faint breeze stirred and cooledthe sweat running down my sides.

  He went the back way, through Deer’s Pasture, across the schoolyard and around tothe fence, I thought—at least that was the way he was headed. It would take longer, soit was not time to worry yet. I waited until it was time to worry and listened for Mr.

  Radley’s shotgun. Then I thought I heard the back fence squeak. It was wishful thinking.

  Then I heard Atticus cough. I held my breath. Sometimes when we made a midnightpilgrimage to the bathroom we would find him reading. He said he often woke up duringthe night, checked on us, and read himself back to sleep. I waited for his light to go on,straining my eyes to see it flood the hall. It stayed off, and I breathed again. The night-crawlers had retired, but ripe chinaberries drummed on the roof when the wind stirred,and the darkness was desolate with the barking of distant dogs.

  There he was, returning to me. His white shirt bobbed over the back fence and slowlygrew larger. He came up the back steps, latched the door behind him, and sat on hiscot. Wordlessly, he held up his pants. He lay down, and for a while I heard his cottrembling. Soon he was still. I did not hear him stir again.

“可以。”这是爸爸对杰姆的请求的答复。杰姆先问爸爸我们可不可以去雷切尔小姐的鱼塘边上和迪尔坐一会儿,因为这是迪尔在梅科姆县的最后一个晚上。“代我向他告别,明年夏天我们会再见面的。”
一道矮墙把雷切尔小姐的院子和我们家的车道隔开,我们从墙上翻过去。杰姆学鹑鸟吹了声口哨,迪尔在黑暗中回了暗号。
“没一丝风。”杰姆说,“看那边。”
他朝东边指去。一轮明月正从莫迪小姐家的核桃树后冉冉上升。
“月亮一照,显得更热。”他说。
“今晚上月亮里有十字架吗?”迪尔问,头也没抬。他正在用报纸和绳子卷支烟。
“没有,只有那位太太。别点燃那玩意儿,迪尔,那难闻的烟味会把镇子这一头都熏臭的。”
在梅科姆镇,人们说月亮里有位太太,正坐在梳妆台前梳头发。
“我们会想你的。”我说,“我想我们最好注意艾弗里先生。”
艾弗里先生住在街对面,和亨利?拉斐特?杜博斯太太隔街相望。艾弗里先生每个星期日去教堂捐献时,总要在捐款盘里换些零钱。除了干这个外,他每天晚上坐在走廊上,一直坐到九点钟,然后打起喷嚏来。一天晚上,我们十分荣幸地看到了他的表演。那次表演看上去是最后一次,因为被我们注意以后,他再没表演过。那天晚上,杰姆和我正要离开雷切尔小姐前面的台阶,逋尔突然拦住我们:“天啊,看那边。”他指着街对面。开始,除了葡萄树遮盖的前廊外我们什么都没看见。可仔细一看,我们发现一道水弧从树叶上落下来,在街灯的昏暗光线中发出劈劈啪啪的溅水声。看上去从水源到地面之间有十英尺高。杰姆说艾弗里先生没尿准,迫尔说他一定是一天喝了一加仑。接着,他俩开始比赛,看谁尿得远,尿得猛,这使我感到又被抛下不管了,因为我在这个领域没有天赋。
迪尔伸伸懒腰,打个呵欠,然后随便说了句:“我有个好主意,咱们去散散步吧。”
他的话使我感到可疑。梅科姆镇上没有人光是为了散步而出去的。
“去哪儿,迪尔?”
他的脑袋往南边一歪。
杰姆说:“好吧。”我说不愿意去时,他很亲切地说:“你不一定要跟着去,小天使。”
“你不一定要去。记得……”
杰姆不爱谈论过去的失败:看来,他从阿迪克斯身上学来的唯一东西是盘问别人的艺术。“斯各特,我们不去干什么,只走到路灯那儿就回来。”
我们默默地在人行道上走着,听着人们在走廊的悬椅上压出的嘎吱嘎吱的声响,听着住在街道两旁的成年人夜间轻轻的谈话声。偶尔可以听到斯蒂芬尼?克劳福德小姐的笑声。
“怎么样?”迪尔问。
“好吧。”杰姆说,“你怎么不回家,斯各特?”
“你们要干什么?”
原来,迪尔和杰姆要从那块松了一块叶板的百叶窗那儿向室内窥视,试试能不能看见拉德利,要是我不愿意跟他们去,可以立刻回家,但要守口如瓶,就这些。
“可你为什么偏偏要等到今天晚上?”
因为晚上没人能看见他们,因为阿迪克斯在全神看书,听不到外面的动静,还因为,如果布?拉德利把他们杀了,他们将要失去的是新的学期而不是假期。另外,从外面朝一间黑屋子里看,晚上比白天看得更清楚一些。杰姆问我懂不懂。
。杰姆,请你……”
“斯各特,我最后一次告诉你,要么闭上嘴,要么回家去——哎呀!你越来越象个丫头了。”.
他这么一说,我没别的办法,只好跟他们一道去。我们觉得最好从拉德利家房子后面的很高的铁丝网下面钻过去,那样被人看见的可能性小一些。
铁丝网围着一个很大的园子和一个窄狭的木厕所。
杰姆掀起铁丝网的底部,示意要迪尔钻过去。我跟在迪尔后面,然后,替杰姆掀起铁丝网。杰姆勉强钻过来。“别弄出声响,”他小声说,“不管怎么样,别走到甘蓝地里去,否则死人也会被惊醒的。”
因为要注意这一点,我的速度可能是一分钟一步。看到远远走在前面的杰姆在月光下向我招手时,我加快了速度。我们来到一道门前,这道门将园子与后院隔开。杰姆碰碰门,门咯吱咯吱响起来。“往上面吐唾沫。”迪尔小声说。
。杰姆,你把我们带进了这种困境,出去可不容易啊。”我咕哝着。
“嘘!往上面吐唾沫,斯各特。”
我们一个个都吐得口里发干,然后杰姆轻轻推开门,把门从门墩儿上抬起,抽出来靠在一旁的栅栏上。我们进了后院。
拉德利家的后面不如前面逗人喜欢:破烂不堪的走廊的长度与房子一样宽;有两扇门,两门之间有两扇窗,窗里一片漆黑;代替大圆柱的是一根二英寸厚四英寸宽的粗糙的术材,支撑着屋顶的一端;走廊上一个角落里有一个古老的富兰克林式的炉灶}炉灶上方有一面帽架上的镜子在月光下闪闪发光,令人不寒而栗。
“啊!”杰姆低声叫了一声,提起脚来。
“怎么了?”
“鸡。”他轻声说。
前面杰姆轻轻的一声叫证明我们不得不小心谨慎,不要碰上那些看不见的东西。我们弯着腰摸到房子侧面,然后朝有一块松了叶板的窗子移近。窗台比杰姆高几英寸。
“我们用手把你撑上去。”他对迪尔说,“不过,等一等。”杰姆抓住自己的左腕,然后抓住我的右腕,我也抓住自已的左腕和杰姆的右腕。我们蹲下来,迪尔坐上我们的手架。我们把他抬起来,他抓住了窗台。
“快点,”杰姆轻声说,“我们坚持不住了。”
迪尔拍一下我的肩膀,于是我们把他放了下来。
“看见什么了?”
“什么都没看见。有窗帘。但是里边较远的地方有一道徽弱的光。”
“我们要离开这里,”杰娲说,“我们再回到后边去。嘘。”我正要说话,他先发出了警告。
“我们去试试后边的窗户。”
“不,迪尔。。我说。
迪尔停下来,让杰姆走在前面。杰姆踏上楼梯的最底下一级时,楼梯略吱一下响起来。他停下来不敢再动。然后,一点点移上去。楼梯不响了。杰姆连跨两级踏上走廊,身子也跟了上去,然后踉踉跄跄地好一阵才站稳。他弯下双膝,徐徐爬到窗下,抬起头向室内望去。
这时,我看见了一个黑影。这是一个戴着帽子的男人的影子。开始,我以为是树,但是当时没有风,树干是不能走动的。整个后廊沫浴在月光之中,那影子从走廊那一端朝杰姆走来。
接着迪尔也看见了。他吓得用手蒙住了脸。
黑影从杰姆身边走过时杰姆也看见了。他用胳膊盖住脑袋,吓呆了。
又走过一英尺左右后黑影停住了。胳膊从侧面伸出来又放下,站着不动了。然后转过身,从杰姆身边走回去,沿着走廊走到房子侧面,象出来时一样又消失了。
杰姆跳下走廊,飞也似的朝我们跑来。他猛地推开门,从我和迪尔之间冲过去,嘘的一声把我俩赶进塞窄作响的甘蓝地中。在甘蓝地里刚跑了一半,我就被绊例了。这时,一声枪响划破了寂静的夜空。
迪尔和杰姆在我身边向前猛冲。杰姆抽噎地说:“学校那边的栅栏……怏,斯各特。”
杰姆掀起铁丝网,迪尔和我滚过去。我们朝学校院子里那棵孤独的橡树刚跑了一半路,突然发觉杰姆没跟上来。我们跑回去,看到杰姆正在铁丝网下挣扎着把被挂住的长裤往下脱。他穿着短裤跑到橡树下。
躲在树后安全了,我们全都站在那儿发果。但是,杰姆的脑瓜子还是停不下来:“我们得回去,他们会找我们的。”
我们穿过学校的院子,钻过栅栏来到我家后面的迪尔牧场。翻过我家屋后的栅栏,我们来到后面的台阶。杰姆这才让我们停下来休息。
呼吸正常后,我们三个装得和平时一样,若无其事地走到前院。我们朝街道上一看,只见拉德利家门前围了一群人。
“我们最好到那儿去,’杰姆说,“要是我们不露面,他们会觉得奇怪的。”
内森?拉德利先生站在大门口,猎枪挎在胳膊上,枪上装子弹的部位张开着。阿迪克斯站在莫迪小姐和斯蒂芬尼?克劳福德小姐身旁。雷切尔小姐和艾弗里先生也在一边。他们谁都没看见我们来了。
我们灵活地钻到莫迪小姐身旁,她回头看了看。“你们几个从哪儿来?没听到这儿乱哄哄的声音吗?”
“怎么了?”杰姆问。
“拉德利先生朝着在他家甘蓝地里的一个黑人开了一枪。”
“哎呀,打中他了吗?”
“没有,”斯蒂芬尼说,“是朝天上开的,可把他吓坏了。他说,谁要是在附近看见一个穿白衣的黑鬼,耶就是他。他说另一枝枪管已装好子弹,只要再听到菜地里有声音,这回不会再朝天上开了,管他是狗,是黑鬼,还是……杰姆?芬奇I”
“小姐?”杰姆问。
阿迪克斯说话了:“你的裤子呢,孩子?”
“裤子?”
“是的。”
没说的了。在大庭广众之中他只穿着短裤。我叹了口气。
“噢……芬奇先生?”
在耀眼的街灯下我看得出迪尔又在打鬼主意:他眼睛瞪得大大的,胖胖的脸变得更圆了。
“怎么回事,迪尔?”阿迪克斯问。
“噢……我赢了他的裤予。”他含含糊糊地说。
“赢了他的,怎么赢的?”
迪尔摸着后脑勺,然后手又移到前面,在前额上摸来摸去。
“我们刚才在鱼塘边上玩扑克赌的,输一盘脱一件衣服。”
我和杰姆放心了。邻居们好象也满意了:他们都惊呆了。可是,什么是输一盘脱一件衣服呢?
我们还没来得及弄明白:雷切尔小姐象上等的救火车上的报警器似的突然嚎叫起来:“耶稣保佑。迪尔?哈里斯!在鱼塘边上赌博,看我把你撕碎不,老兄!”
阿迪克斯救了迪尔,这才使他幸免肢解。“等一等,雷切尔小姐,”他说,“我以前从没听说过他们玩那玩意儿。你们都玩扑克牌吗?”
杰姆接过迪尔的谎话:“不是的,爸爸,玩的是火柴。”
我真佩服我哥哥。火柴是危险的,可是扑克牌是致命的。
“杰姆,斯各特,”阿迪克斯说,“我不愿再听到以任何方式提到扑克牌。杰姆,去迪尔家把裤子拿来。你们自己把问题解决吧。”
“别怕,迪尔,”我们走上人行道时杰姆说,“雷切尔小姐不会把你怎么样的。爸爸会说服她的。你这个家伙反应真快。昕……你们听见没有?”
我们停下来,听见阿迪克斯说:“……不要紧的,他们总要经历这个阶段的,雷切尔小姐……”
迪尔放心了,可杰姆和我却麻烦了。第二天上午杰姆总得穿裤子。
“把我的借给你,”我们走到雷切尔小姐屋前的台阶上时,迪尔说。杰姆说谢谢他的好意,可他穿不进迪尔的裤子。我们说了再见后迪尔进去了。显然他还记得他已和我订了婚,因为他跑出来当着杰姆的面很快地吻了我。“来信,听见了吗?”他在我们身后大喊了一声。
即使杰姆的裤子好好地穿在身上,我们也不会睡好的。我睡在后廊的帆布床上,在寂静的夜晚听到的每一声响动都放大了三倍;砾石路上每一阵脚步声都是拉德利在寻找报复机会,夜间路过的黑人的笑声都是松了绑的拉德利在追踪我们,昆虫撞击纱窗的噼噼啪啪的声音就是精神不正常的拉德利在甩手指把纱窗的纱一根根扯断;苦楝树似乎也有了生命,不怀好意地在附近徘徊。我昏昏沉沉,睡一阵醒一阵,直到后来昕到杰姆小声说话。
“你这小小的三眼鬼,睡着了吗?。
“你发疯了吧?”
“嘘,阿迪克斯房里的灯关掉了。”
在渐暗的月色里,我看见杰姆的脚一抬,踏到地上。
“我去我裤子。”他说。
我坐起来。“不行,我不让你去。”
他正在急忙穿衬衣。。不去不行。”
“你去我就喊醒阿迪克斯。”
“你喊我就要你的命。”
我把他拽到床边坐下来想跟他讲清理由:“明天早上内森先生发现裤子后,他知道是你丢的,顶多不过是拿给阿迪克斯看。再糟也就是这么回事。回床上去吧。”
“这点我知道,”杰姆说,“就是因为这点我才要去。”
我左右为难了。他一个人回到那个地方……我想起斯蒂芬尼小姐的话:内森先生的另一枝枪管已装好子弹,再听到声响就开枪,管他是黑鬼,是狗……这一点杰姆比我清楚。
我不顾一切地劝阻:“告诉你,杰姆,不值得,挨揍是会痛的,但痛过后就没事了。你这一去,脑袋就没了,杰姆,请求你……”
他喘了口气。“我……是这样,斯各特,”他小声说,“从我记事以来,阿迪克斯从没打过我,我想这样保持下去。”
这倒挺有道理。阿迪克斯好象隔一天就耍威胁我们一次。“你是说他从没抓住过你的把柄肥。”
“大概是。可是……我只不过想保持下去,斯各特。今晚我们不该干那件事。”
我想那一次是杰姆和我第一次开始有分歧了。有时我不理解他,但这种迷惑不解总是一下就过去了。这次我实在不理解。“请你,”我哀求道,“再想一下……你一个人在那个鬼地方……”
“住嘴!”
“他肯定不会再也不跟你讲话或对你做出别的什么……我要去喊醒他,杰姆,我发誓要……”
杰姆一把抓住我睡衣的衣领死死地扭着。我说,“要不我跟你一起去……”我被勒得透不过气来。
“不,你不能去。你会弄出声响的。”
一切劝阻都是白搭。我打开后门栓,推开门,望着他蹑手蹑脚地下了台阶。一定是午夜两点了。月亮已开始西沉,窗户投在地上的方格影子渐渐模糊,最后几乎消失了。杰姆的白衬衣的下摆忽上忽下,就象个小鬼跳着逃避即将到来的清晨似的。我的两肋淌下汗珠,微风吹来,我感到凉快。
他走的是原路,过了迪尔牧场,穿过学校大院,绕到栅栏前,我想——至少他是朝那个方向去的。还要过一会儿才能到,所以还不是担心的时候。我等了一会儿,到了开始担心的时候了。我静静地听着,等待着拉德利先生的枪响。这时,我觉得听到了后面栅栏咯吱咯吱的响声。这只是我的一种梦想。
过了一会儿我听见阿迫克斯咳嗽。我屏住气息。有时,我们晚上去厕所时看见他还在看书。他说晚上他常常起来看我们,然后看看书再睡觉。我等着他开灯,瞪大眼睛等待着房里突然雪亮。灯没亮,我松了口气。
夜间爬出来的大蚯蚓已经回洞了,但风一吹,成熟的苦楝树子就象敲鼓似的落在房顶上。远处传来的狗叫声使黑夜显得更加寂静。
他回来了,朝我跑来。白衬衣闪现在后面的栅栏上,然后显得越来越大。他踏上后台阶,进来后随手插上门栓,然后在他床上坐下来。他手里提着裤子,半天没说话。躺下后,我听见他的床颤动了一下。他很快平静下来,再没听见他动过。



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