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Chapter 7

      Jem stayed moody and silent for a week. As Atticus had once advised me to do, I triedto climb into Jem’s skin and walk around in it: if I had gone alone to the Radley Place attwo in the morning, my funeral would have been held the next afternoon. So I left Jemalone and tried not to bother him.

  School started. The second grade was as bad as the first, only worse—they stillflashed cards at you and wouldn’t let you read or write. Miss Caroline’s progress nextdoor could be estimated by the frequency of laughter; however, the usual crew hadflunked the first grade again, and were helpful in keeping order. The only thing goodabout the second grade was that this year I had to stay as late as Jem, and we usuallywalked home together at three o’clock.

  One afternoon when we were crossing the schoolyard toward home, Jem suddenlysaid: “There’s something I didn’t tell you.”

  As this was his first complete sentence in several days, I encouraged him: “Aboutwhat?”

  “About that night.”

  “You’ve never told me anything about that night,” I said.

  Jem waved my words away as if fanning gnats. He was silent for a while, then he said,“When I went back for my breeches—they were all in a tangle when I was gettin‘ out of’em, I couldn’t get ‘em loose. When I went back—” Jem took a deep breath. “When Iwent back, they were folded across the fence… like they were expectin’ me.”

  “Across—”

  “And something else—” Jem’s voice was flat. “Show you when we get home. They’dbeen sewed up. Not like a lady sewed ‘em, like somethin’ I’d try to do. All crooked. It’salmost like—”

  “—somebody knew you were comin‘ back for ’em.”

  Jem shuddered. “Like somebody was readin‘ my mind… like somebody could tell whatI was gonna do. Can’t anybody tell what I’m gonna do lest they know me, can they,Scout?”

  Jem’s question was an appeal. I reassured him: “Can’t anybody tell what you’re gonnado lest they live in the house with you, and even I can’t tell sometimes.”

  We were walking past our tree. In its knot-hole rested a ball of gray twine.

  “Don’t take it, Jem,” I said. “This is somebody’s hidin‘ place.”

  “I don’t think so, Scout.”

  “Yes it is. Somebody like Walter Cunningham comes down here every recess andhides his things—and we come along and take ‘em away from him. Listen, let’s leave itand wait a couple of days. If it ain’t gone then, we’ll take it, okay?”

  “Okay, you might be right,” said Jem. “It must be some little kid’s place—hides histhings from the bigger folks. You know it’s only when school’s in that we’ve foundthings.”

  “Yeah,” I said, “but we never go by here in the summertime.”

  We went home. Next morning the twine was where we had left it. When it was stillthere on the third day, Jem pocketed it. From then on, we considered everything wefound in the knot-hole our property.

  The second grade was grim, but Jem assured me that the older I got the better schoolwould be, that he started off the same way, and it was not until one reached the sixthgrade that one learned anything of value. The sixth grade seemed to please him fromthe beginning: he went through a brief Egyptian Period that baffled me—he tried to walkflat a great deal, sticking one arm in front of him and one in back of him, putting one footbehind the other. He declared Egyptians walked that way; I said if they did I didn’t seehow they got anything done, but Jem said they accomplished more than the Americansever did, they invented toilet paper and perpetual embalming, and asked where wouldwe be today if they hadn’t? Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have thefacts.

  There are no clearly defined seasons in South Alabama; summer drifts into autumn,and autumn is sometimes never followed by winter, but turns to a days-old spring thatmelts into summer again. That fall was a long one, hardly cool enough for a light jacket.

  Jem and I were trotting in our orbit one mild October afternoon when our knot-holestopped us again. Something white was inside this time.

  Jem let me do the honors: I pulled out two small images carved in soap. One was thefigure of a boy, the other wore a crude dress. Before I remembered that there was nosuch thing as hoo-dooing, I shrieked and threw them down.

  Jem snatched them up. “What’s the matter with you?” he yelled. He rubbed the figuresfree of red dust. “These are good,” he said. “I’ve never seen any these good.”

  He held them down to me. They were almost perfect miniatures of two children. Theboy had on shorts, and a shock of soapy hair fell to his eyebrows. I looked up at Jem. Apoint of straight brown hair kicked downwards from his part. I had never noticed itbefore. Jem looked from the girl-doll to me. The girl-doll wore bangs. So did I.

  “These are us,” he said.

  “Who did ‘em, you reckon?”

  “Who do we know around here who whittles?” he asked.

  “Mr. Avery.”

  “Mr. Avery just does like this. I mean carves.”

  Mr. Avery averaged a stick of stovewood per week; he honed it down to a toothpickand chewed it.

  “There’s old Miss Stephanie Crawford’s sweetheart,” I said.

  “He carves all right, but he lives down the country. When would he ever pay anyattention to us?”

  “Maybe he sits on the porch and looks at us instead of Miss Stephanie. If I was him, Iwould.”

  Jem stared at me so long I asked what was the matter, but got Nothing, Scout for ananswer. When we went home, Jem put the dolls in his trunk.

  Less than two weeks later we found a whole package of chewing gum, which weenjoyed, the fact that everything on the Radley Place was poison having slipped Jem’smemory.

  The following week the knot-hole yielded a tarnished medal. Jem showed it to Atticus,who said it was a spelling medal, that before we were born the Maycomb Countyschools had spelling contests and awarded medals to the winners. Atticus saidsomeone must have lost it, and had we asked around? Jem camel-kicked me when Itried to say where we had found it. Jem asked Atticus if he remembered anybody whoever won one, and Atticus said no.

  Our biggest prize appeared four days later. It was a pocket watch that wouldn’t run, ona chain with an aluminum knife.

  “You reckon it’s white gold, Jem?”

  “Don’t know. I’ll show it to Atticus.”

  Atticus said it would probably be worth ten dollars, knife, chain and all, if it were new.

  “Did you swap with somebody at school?” he asked.

  “Oh, no sir!” Jem pulled out his grandfather’s watch that Atticus let him carry once aweek if Jem were careful with it. On the days he carried the watch, Jem walked on eggs.

  “Atticus, if it’s all right with you, I’d rather have this one instead. Maybe I can fix it.”

  When the new wore off his grandfather’s watch, and carrying it became a day’sburdensome task, Jem no longer felt the necessity of ascertaining the hour every fiveminutes.

  He did a fair job, only one spring and two tiny pieces left over, but the watch would notrun. “Oh-h,” he sighed, “it’ll never go. Scout—?”

  “Huh?”

  “You reckon we oughta write a letter to whoever’s leaving us these things?”

  “That’d be right nice, Jem, we can thank ‘em—what’s wrong?”

  Jem was holding his ears, shaking his head from side to side. “I don’t get it, I just don’tget it—I don’t know why, Scout…” He looked toward the livingroom. “I’ve gotta goodmind to tell Atticus—no, I reckon not.”

  “I’ll tell him for you.”

  “No, don’t do that, Scout. Scout?”

  “Wha-t?”

  He had been on the verge of telling me something all evening; his face would brightenand he would lean toward me, then he would change his mind. He changed it again.

  “Oh, nothin‘.”

  “Here, let’s write a letter.” I pushed a tablet and pencil under his nose.

  “Okay. Dear Mister…”

  “How do you know it’s a man? I bet it’s Miss Maudie—been bettin‘ that for a longtime.”

  “Ar-r, Miss Maudie can’t chew gum—” Jem broke into a grin. “You know, she can talkreal pretty sometimes. One time I asked her to have a chew and she said no thanks,that—chewing gum cleaved to her palate and rendered her speechless,” said Jemcarefully. “Doesn’t that sound nice?”

  “Yeah, she can say nice things sometimes. She wouldn’t have a watch and chainanyway.”

  “Dear sir,” said Jem. “We appreciate the—no, we appreciate everything which youhave put into the tree for us. Yours very truly, Jeremy Atticus Finch.”

  “He won’t know who you are if you sign it like that, Jem.”

  Jem erased his name and wrote, “Jem Finch.” I signed, “Jean Louise Finch (Scout),”

  beneath it. Jem put the note in an envelope.

  Next morning on the way to school he ran ahead of me and stopped at the tree. Jemwas facing me when he looked up, and I saw him go stark white.

  “Scout!”

  I ran to him.

  Someone had filled our knot-hole with cement.

  “Don’t you cry, now, Scout… don’t cry now, don’t you worry-” he muttered at me all theway to school.

  When we went home for dinner Jem bolted his food, ran to the porch and stood on thesteps. I followed him. “Hasn’t passed by yet,” he said.

  Next day Jem repeated his vigil and was rewarded.

  “Hidy do, Mr. Nathan,” he said.

  “Morning Jem, Scout,” said Mr. Radley, as he went by.

  “Mr. Radley,” said Jem.

  Mr. Radley turned around.

  “Mr. Radley, ah—did you put cement in that hole in that tree down yonder?”

  “Yes,” he said. “I filled it up.”

  “Why’d you do it, sir?”

  “Tree’s dying. You plug ‘em with cement when they’re sick. You ought to know that,Jem.”

  Jem said nothing more about it until late afternoon. When we passed our tree he gaveit a meditative pat on its cement, and remained deep in thought. He seemed to beworking himself into a bad humor, so I kept my distance.

  As usual, we met Atticus coming home from work that evening. When we were at oursteps Jem said, “Atticus, look down yonder at that tree, please sir.”

  “What tree, son?”

  “The one on the corner of the Radley lot comin‘ from school.”

  “Yes?”

  “Is that tree dyin‘?”

  “Why no, son, I don’t think so. Look at the leaves, they’re all green and full, no brownpatches anywhere—”

  “It ain’t even sick?”

  “That tree’s as healthy as you are, Jem. Why?”

  “Mr. Nathan Radley said it was dyin‘.”

  “Well maybe it is. I’m sure Mr. Radley knows more about his trees than we do.”

  Atticus left us on the porch. Jem leaned on a pillar, rubbing his shoulders against it.

  “Do you itch, Jem?” I asked as politely as I could. He did not answer. “Come on in,Jem,” I said.

  “After while.”

  He stood there until nightfall, and I waited for him. When we went in the house I sawhe had been crying; his face was dirty in the right places, but I thought it odd that I hadnot heard him.

整整一个星期杰姆都闷闷不乐,他一句话也不说。按照阿迪克斯对我说过的那样,我极力设身处地从他所处酌位置考虑问题:要是我一个人清早两点钟去拉德利家那儿,第二天下午一定要为我举行葬礼的。所以我不去打扰杰姆,随他怎么样。
开学了。二年级和一年级一样没味,甚至更差——老师们还是向你挥舞卡片,一不让你读,二不让你写。卡罗琳小姐在隔壁教室上课的情况如何,昕到那里面爆发的笑声就可想而知。然而一年级考试不及格的总是原来那些人,这一来,纪律要好一点。二年级唯一的好处就是我和杰姆放学一样晚了,所以我们常常三点钟一起回家。
一天下午,我们穿过学校的院子正朝家走着,杰姆突然说:“我有件事没告诉你。”
这是几天来他说的第一句完整的话,我鼓励他说下去:“什么事?”
“关于那天晚上。”
“你从没跟我谈过那天晚上的事。”我说。
杰姆手一挥打断我的话,好象挥着扇子把蚋蚊赶走似的。他沉默了一会儿,然后说:“我回去拿裤子时——我原来脱裤子时裤子乱作一团,根本取不下来。等我回去时……”杰姆深深吸了一口气,“等我回去时,裤子叠好了,放在栅栏上……好象在等着我似的。”
“在栅栏上……”
“还有别的呢……”杰姆用平稳的声音说,“到家再给你看。裤子缝好了,不象出自女人之手,跟我缝的差不多,针脚弯弯曲曲的,差不多象……”
“有人知道你要回去取裤子。”
杰姆哆噫了一下。“好象有人能看出我的思想……好象有人知道我要干什么。别人不会知道我要干什么,除非他认识我,你说是吗,斯各特?”
杰姆的问题带有请求我帮他解答的口气。我安慰他说:“别人不知遭你要干什么,除非和你一起住在这栋房子里,就连我有时候都不知道。”
我们正路过我们每天经过的那棵树。树节孔里有匝麻线。
。别拿,杰姆,”我说,“这是别人藏东西的地方。”
“我才不信昵,斯各特。”
“是的,本来就是。象沃尔特?坎宁安这样的人每次下课都来这里藏东西——我们就这样走过来拿走他的可不行。听我说,我们把线团留在这儿等一两天,要是没人拿的话我们再拿,这样好吗?”
“好吧,可能你说得对。”杰姆说,“这儿一定是某个小孩的地方——把东西藏起来,怕大孩子拿去。你注意了吗,每次我们发现东西都是开学以后。”
“是的,”我说,“可是夏天我们从不路过这儿。”
我们回家去了。第二天早上,线团留在那儿原封没动。到第三天还没人动时,线团进了杰姆的口袋。从那以后,在树节孔里发现的任何东西都被看作是我们的财产了。
二年级实在没味。但杰姆告诉我年龄越大,上学越有意思。他说他也是这样开始的,还说要到六年级才真正学习有价值的东西。六年级好象一开始就使他高兴:他经过了使我迷惑不解的简短的“埃及阶段”——他花了很大工夫学习走得平稳一些。手脚总是一前一后。他说埃及人就是这样走路的。我说这样走路又怎么样,没看见他们做出什么了不起的事。可杰姆说他们比美国人取得的成就多得多,他们发明了手纸并用香料使尸体永不腐烂。杰姆问我要是没有他们的发明,我们会有今天这样的成就吗?阿迪克斯说过,删去些形容词,剩下的就是事实。
亚拉巴马南部的四个季节没有明显的界线。夏季很快进入秋季,而秋天之后,有时并没有冬天而是转入寿命只有几天时问的春天,然后又混进夏天。那年的秋天持续了很久,气候温暖,几乎没凉到要穿甲克衫。十月的一天下午,天气不冷不热,杰姆和我正在我们常走的路上匆匆走着,突然那树节洞又把我们吸引住了。这次,有样白色的东西在里边。
杰姆这次让我去拿:我抽出来两个用肥皂雕的小小的人像。一个是男孩,另一个是女孩,穿着一件很粗糙的衣服。我尖Ⅱq一声,把人像扔到地上,可一下又想起世上并没有什么不祥之物。
杰姆立刻把人像捡起来。“你怎么了?”他叫起来,然后擦去人像上的红色灰尘。“雕得真好,”他说,“我从没见过这么好的。”
他把人像递给我。这是两个几乎挑不出毛病的小孩像。男孩穿着短裤,一堆乱蓬蓬的头发一直垂到眉毛上。我抬头看看杰姆,他那直愣愣的棕色头发从中间分开,向下耷拉着。我在这以前从没注意过他的头发。
杰姆的目光从那女娃娃身上移到我脸上。女娃娃前额留着刘海,而我正好也留着刘海。
“这是我们俩。”他说。
“你看是谁雕的?”
“这附近有我们认识的会雕刻的人投有?”他问。
“艾弗里先生。”
“艾弗里先生干的正是这个,我说的是雕刻。”
艾弗里先生平均每个星期削一根柴火棍,最后磨成牙签放进嘴里嚼起来。
“还有斯蒂芬尼?克劳福德小姐的情人。”我说。
“他雕得倒不错,可他住在乡下。他哪有时问来注意我们呢?”
“可能是他坐在走廊上看我们而不是看斯蒂芬尼小姐。我要是他的话也会这样做。”
杰姆瞪着眼望了我那么久,我问他怎么了,可他的回答只是“没什么,斯各特”。到家后,他把人像放进他的箱子。
不到两个星期,我们发现了一整包口香糖,我们当然老实不客气地饱了口福。拉德利家的每样东西都是毒药,这个说法杰姆已丢到脑后了。
又过了一个星期,树节洞里又出现一个失去光泽的奖章。杰姆拿给阿迪克斯看,阿迪克斯说这是个拼写比赛的奖章。我们出生以前,梅科姆县的学校组织过拼写比赛,获胜者都得了奖章。阿迪克斯说一定是谁丢的,问我们在周围打听了没有,我正要说在哪儿捡的,杰姆用脚跟踢了踢我。杰姆问阿迪克斯记不记得谁得过这种奖章,阿迪克斯说不记得。
又过了四天,我们的最大的战利品出现了。这回是个怀表,已经不能走了,挂在一个带把小铝刀的链子上。
“你看这是白金的吗,杰姆?”
“不知道。我要绐阿迪克斯看看。”
阿迪克斯说如果是新的,表、小刀、链子三件合起来大概值十美元。“你们在学校和谁交换的吗?”他问。
“不,不是的,爸爸。”杰姆掏出爷爷用过的怀表,这是阿迪克斯让他带的,每星期一次,条件是他要小心。每逢带表的日子,杰姆走起路来小心翼翼。“阿迪克斯,要是你没意见,我想要这一个,说不定我能修好。”
爷爷的表变旧了,而且戴了它成了一天的负担,杰姆不再感到有必要每隔五分钟看一次时间了。
他把表好好地修理了一下,只剩下一个弹簧和两个小零件没去理会,但表却还是不走。“嗐,”他叹了口气,“永远也走不了了。斯各特……”
“啊?”
“你看我们是不是应该给送我们这些东西的人写封信?”
“当然应该,杰姆,我们可以感谢他们……怎么了?”
杰姆抱着耳朵直摇头。“我不明白,我就是不明白……我不知道为什么,斯各特……”他朝客厅看去。“我很想告诉阿迪克斯……不,还是不告诉的好。”
“我替你告诉他。”
“不,别告诉他。斯各特?”
“什——么?”
整个晚上,他部好象有什么事要告诉我似的。他脸上一阵兴奋,向我靠过来,但马上又改变主意。这次他又变回去不想说了:“噢,没什么。”
“过来,我们写封信。”我把信纸和铅笔推到他面前。
“好吧。亲爱的先生……”
“你怎么知道是男的?我断定是莫迪小姐——我一直认为是她。”
“啊……莫迪小姐不能嚼口香糖……”杰姆唰嘴笑起来。“你知道,有时候她很会说话。有一次我请她吃口香糖,她说不,谢谢……口香糖粘在她的硬腭上,使她说不出话来。”杰姆说得很小心,“她这话不是说得好吗?”
。说得真好,有时候她可会说话啦。但她不会有带表链子的表。”
“亲爱的先生,”杰姆写道,“我们十分喜欢那……不,十分喜欢您为我们放在树上的每一样东西。杰里米?阿迪克斯?芬奇谨启。”
“杰姆,你那样签名,他不会知道你是谁的。”
杰姆擦去他的名字,然后写上“杰姆?芬奇”。我在下面签上“琼?路易斯?芬奇(斯各特)”。杰姆把纸条装进信封。
第二天早晨上学时,他跑在我前面,到树跟前时他停下来抬头向上看,这时我正好看到他的脸,只见他脸色苍白。
“斯各特!”
我朝他跑去。
有人把我们的树洞用水泥堵塞了。
“别哭,斯各特……先别哭,别着急……”在上学的路上他不停地这样安慰我。
回到家里吃饭时,杰姆囫囵吞下几口就跑到走廊,站在台阶上。我跟着他出来。“还没走过这里。”他说。
第二天杰姆又守望着,这回可没有白费力气。
“您好,内森先生,”他说。
“早上好,杰姆,斯各特。”拉德利先生说着走过去。
“拉德利先生。”杰姆说。
拉德利先生回过头。
“拉德利先生,嗯……是您用水泥把那边那棵树上的洞堵上的吗?”
“是的,是我堵的.。”
“您为什么要堵上,先生?”
“那树要死了。树生了病就用水泥堵上,这你应该知道的,杰姆。”
直到傍晚,杰姆才再谈到这件事。我们走过那棵树时,杰姆若有所思地在水泥上轻轻地拍了一下,然后又陷入了沉思。他好象要生气了,所以我和他保持着一段距离。
象平时一样,阿迪克斯下班回家时,我们出去接他。上了台阶后,杰姆问他:“阿迪克斯,请你看看那边那棵树。”
。什么树,孩子?”
“拉德利家前面的拐角上靠学校那边那棵。”
“怎么了?”
“那棵树快死了吗?”
“没有啊,孩子,我看不象。看树上的叶子绿油油的,叶子没脱落,也没褐色的斑点……”
“连病都没有吗?”
“那棵树和你一样棒,杰姆。为什么问这个?”
“内森先生说树快死了。”
“那么可能是这样。我相信内森先生对他家的树比我们更了解。”
阿迪克斯把我们留在走廊上,自己走开了。杰姆靠着一根柱子,肩膀在上面擦来擦去。
“你痒吗,杰姆?”我非常有礼貌地问他。他没回答。“进去吧,杰姆。”我说。
“等一会儿。”他站在那儿一直到天黑,我也陪着他。我们进去时,我发现他哭过。脸上流过泪的地方不很干净,可我觉得奇怪,怎么没听见他哭。



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