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Chapter 10

      Atticus was feeble: he was nearly fifty. When Jem and I asked him why he was so old,he said he got started late, which we felt reflected upon his abilities and manliness. Hewas much older than the parents of our school contemporaries, and there was nothingJem or I could say about him when our classmates said, “My father—”

  Jem was football crazy. Atticus was never too tired to play keep-away, but when Jemwanted to tackle him Atticus would say, “I’m too old for that, son.”

  Our father didn’t do anything. He worked in an office, not in a drugstore. Atticus did notdrive a dump-truck for the county, he was not the sheriff, he did not farm, work in agarage, or do anything that could possibly arouse the admiration of anyone.

  Besides that, he wore glasses. He was nearly blind in his left eye, and said left eyeswere the tribal curse of the Finches. Whenever he wanted to see something well, heturned his head and looked from his right eye.

  He did not do the things our schoolmates’ fathers did: he never went hunting, he didnot play poker or fish or drink or smoke. He sat in the livingroom and read.

  With these attributes, however, he would not remain as inconspicuous as we wishedhim to: that year, the school buzzed with talk about him defending Tom Robinson, noneof which was complimentary. After my bout with Cecil Jacobs when I committed myselfto a policy of cowardice, word got around that Scout Finch wouldn’t fight any more, herdaddy wouldn’t let her. This was not entirely correct: I wouldn’t fight publicly for Atticus,but the family was private ground. I would fight anyone from a third cousin upwardstooth and nail. Francis Hancock, for example, knew that.

  When he gave us our air-rifles Atticus wouldn’t teach us to shoot. Uncle Jackinstructed us in the rudiments thereof; he said Atticus wasn’t interested in guns. Atticussaid to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you’ll goafter birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin tokill a mockingbird.”

  That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and Iasked Miss Maudie about it.

  “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for usto enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do onething but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

  “Miss Maudie, this is an old neighborhood, ain’t it?”

  “Been here longer than the town.”

  “Nome, I mean the folks on our street are all old. Jem and me’s the only childrenaround here. Mrs. Dubose is close on to a hundred and Miss Rachel’s old and so areyou and Atticus.”

  “I don’t call fifty very old,” said Miss Maudie tartly. “Not being wheeled around yet, amI? Neither’s your father. But I must say Providence was kind enough to burn down thatold mausoleum of mine, I’m too old to keep it up—maybe you’re right, Jean Louise, thisis a settled neighborhood. You’ve never been around young folks much, have you?”

  “Yessum, at school.”

  “I mean young grown-ups. You’re lucky, you know. You and Jem have the benefit ofyour father’s age. If your father was thirty you’d find life quite different.”

  “I sure would. Atticus can’t do anything…”

  “You’d be surprised,” said Miss Maudie. “There’s life in him yet.”

  “What can he do?”

  “Well, he can make somebody’s will so airtight can’t anybody meddle with it.”

  “Shoot…”

  “Well, did you know he’s the best checker-player in this town? Why, down at theLanding when we were coming up, Atticus Finch could beat everybody on both sides ofthe river.”

  “Good Lord, Miss Maudie, Jem and me beat him all the time.”

  “It’s about time you found out it’s because he lets you. Did you know he can play aJew’s Harp?”

  This modest accomplishment served to make me even more ashamed of him.

  “Well…” she said.

  “Well, what, Miss Maudie?”

  “Well nothing. Nothing—it seems with all that you’d be proud of him. Can’t everybodyplay a Jew’s Harp. Now keep out of the way of the carpenters. You’d better go home, I’llbe in my azaleas and can’t watch you. Plank might hit you.”

  I went to the back yard and found Jem plugging away at a tin can, which seemedstupid with all the bluejays around. I returned to the front yard and busied myself for twohours erecting a complicated breastworks at the side of the porch, consisting of a tire,an orange crate, the laundry hamper, the porch chairs, and a small U.S. flag Jem gaveme from a popcorn box.

  When Atticus came home to dinner he found me crouched down aiming across thestreet. “What are you shooting at?”

  “Miss Maudie’s rear end.”

  Atticus turned and saw my generous target bending over her bushes. He pushed hishat to the back of his head and crossed the street. “Maudie,” he called, “I thought I’dbetter warn you. You’re in considerable peril.”

  Miss Maudie straightened up and looked toward me. She said, “Atticus, you are adevil from hell.”

  When Atticus returned he told me to break camp. “Don’t you ever let me catch youpointing that gun at anybody again,” he said.

  I wished my father was a devil from hell. I sounded out Calpurnia on the subject. “Mr.

  Finch? Why, he can do lots of things.”

  “Like what?” I asked.

  Calpurnia scratched her head. “Well, I don’t rightly know,” she said.

  Jem underlined it when he asked Atticus if he was going out for the Methodists andAtticus said he’d break his neck if he did, he was just too old for that sort of thing. TheMethodists were trying to pay off their church mortgage, and had challenged theBaptists to a game of touch football. Everybody in town’s father was playing, it seemed,except Atticus. Jem said he didn’t even want to go, but he was unable to resist footballin any form, and he stood gloomily on the sidelines with Atticus and me watching CecilJacobs’s father make touchdowns for the Baptists.

  One Saturday Jem and I decided to go exploring with our air-rifles to see if we couldfind a rabbit or a squirrel. We had gone about five hundred yards beyond the RadleyPlace when I noticed Jem squinting at something down the street. He had turned hishead to one side and was looking out of the corners of his eyes.

  “Whatcha looking at?”

  “That old dog down yonder,” he said.

  “That’s old Tim Johnson, ain’t it?”

  “Yeah.”

  Tim Johnson was the property of Mr. Harry Johnson who drove the Mobile bus andlived on the southern edge of town. Tim was a liver-colored bird dog, the pet ofMaycomb.

  “What’s he doing?”

  “I don’t know, Scout. We better go home.”

  “Aw Jem, it’s February.”

  “I don’t care, I’m gonna tell Cal.”

  We raced home and ran to the kitchen.

  “Cal,” said Jem, “can you come down the sidewalk a minute?”

  “What for, Jem? I can’t come down the sidewalk every time you want me.”

  “There’s somethin‘ wrong with an old dog down yonder.”

  Calpurnia sighed. “I can’t wrap up any dog’s foot now. There’s some gauze in thebathroom, go get it and do it yourself.”

  Jem shook his head. “He’s sick, Cal. Something’s wrong with him.”

  “What’s he doin‘, trying to catch his tail?”

  “No, he’s doin‘ like this.”

  Jem gulped like a goldfish, hunched his shoulders and twitched his torso. “He’s goin‘like that, only not like he means to.”

  “Are you telling me a story, Jem Finch?” Calpurnia’s voice hardened.

  “No Cal, I swear I’m not.”

  “Was he runnin‘?”

  “No, he’s just moseyin‘ along, so slow you can’t hardly tell it. He’s comin’ this way.”

  Calpurnia rinsed her hands and followed Jem into the yard. “I don’t see any dog,” shesaid.

  She followed us beyond the Radley Place and looked where Jem pointed. TimJohnson was not much more than a speck in the distance, but he was closer to us. Hewalked erratically, as if his right legs were shorter than his left legs. He reminded me ofa car stuck in a sandbed.

  “He’s gone lopsided,” said Jem.

  Calpurnia stared, then grabbed us by the shoulders and ran us home. She shut thewood door behind us, went to the telephone and shouted, “Gimme Mr. Finch’s office!”

  “Mr. Finch!” she shouted. “This is Cal. I swear to God there’s a mad dog down thestreet a piece—he’s comin‘ this way, yes sir, he’s—Mr. Finch, I declare he is—old TimJohnson, yes sir… yessir… yes—”

  She hung up and shook her head when we tried to ask her what Atticus had said. Sherattled the telephone hook and said, “Miss Eula May—now ma’am, I’m through talkin‘ toMr. Finch, please don’t connect me no more—listen, Miss Eula May, can you call MissRachel and Miss Stephanie Crawford and whoever’s got a phone on this street and tell’em a mad dog’s comin‘? Please ma’am!”

  Calpurnia listened. “I know it’s February, Miss Eula May, but I know a mad dog when Isee one. Please ma’am hurry!”

  Calpurnia asked Jem, “Radleys got a phone?”

  Jem looked in the book and said no. “They won’t come out anyway, Cal.”

  “I don’t care, I’m gonna tell ‘em.”

  She ran to the front porch, Jem and I at her heels. “You stay in that house!” she yelled.

  Calpurnia’s message had been received by the neighborhood. Every wood door withinour range of vision was closed tight. We saw no trace of Tim Johnson. We watchedCalpurnia running toward the Radley Place, holding her skirt and apron above herknees. She went up to the front steps and banged on the door. She got no answer, andshe shouted, “Mr. Nathan, Mr. Arthur, mad dog’s comin‘! Mad dog’s comin’!”

  “She’s supposed to go around in back,” I said.

  Jem shook his head. “Don’t make any difference now,” he said.

  Calpurnia pounded on the door in vain. No one acknowledged her warning; no oneseemed to have heard it.

  As Calpurnia sprinted to the back porch a black Ford swung into the driveway. Atticusand Mr. Heck Tate got out.

  Mr. Heck Tate was the sheriff of Maycomb County. He was as tall as Atticus, butthinner. He was long-nosed, wore boots with shiny metal eye-holes, boot pants and alumber jacket. His belt had a row of bullets sticking in it. He carried a heavy rifle. Whenhe and Atticus reached the porch, Jem opened the door.

  “Stay inside, son,” said Atticus. “Where is he, Cal?”

  “He oughta be here by now,” said Calpurnia, pointing down the street.

  “Not runnin‘, is he?” asked Mr. Tate.

  “Naw sir, he’s in the twitchin‘ stage, Mr. Heck.”

  “Should we go after him, Heck?” asked Atticus.

  “We better wait, Mr. Finch. They usually go in a straight line, but you never can tell. Hemight follow the curve—hope he does or he’ll go straight in the Radley back yard. Let’swait a minute.”

  “Don’t think he’ll get in the Radley yard,” said Atticus. “Fence’ll stop him. He’ll probablyfollow the road…”

  I thought mad dogs foamed at the mouth, galloped, leaped and lunged at throats, andI thought they did it in August. Had Tim Johnson behaved thus, I would have been lessfrightened.

  Nothing is more deadly than a deserted, waiting street. The trees were still, themockingbirds were silent, the carpenters at Miss Maudie’s house had vanished. I heardMr. Tate sniff, then blow his nose. I saw him shift his gun to the crook of his arm. I sawMiss Stephanie Crawford’s face framed in the glass window of her front door. MissMaudie appeared and stood beside her. Atticus put his foot on the rung of a chair andrubbed his hand slowly down the side of his thigh.

  “There he is,” he said softly.

  Tim Johnson came into sight, walking dazedly in the inner rim of the curve parallel tothe Radley house.

  “Look at him,” whispered Jem. “Mr. Heck said they walked in a straight line. He can’teven stay in the road.”

  “He looks more sick than anything,” I said.

  “Let anything get in front of him and he’ll come straight at it.”

  Mr. Tate put his hand to his forehead and leaned forward. “He’s got it all right, Mr.

  Finch.”

  Tim Johnson was advancing at a snail’s pace, but he was not playing or sniffing atfoliage: he seemed dedicated to one course and motivated by an invisible force that wasinching him toward us. We could see him shiver like a horse shedding flies; his jawopened and shut; he was alist, but he was being pulled gradually toward us.

  “He’s lookin‘ for a place to die,” said Jem.

  Mr. Tate turned around. “He’s far from dead, Jem, he hasn’t got started yet.”

  Tim Johnson reached the side street that ran in front of the Radley Place, and whatremained of his poor mind made him pause and seem to consider which road he wouldtake. He made a few hesitant steps and stopped in front of the Radley gate; then hetried to turn around, but was having difficulty.

  Atticus said, “He’s within range, Heck. You better get him before he goes down theside street—Lord knows who’s around the corner. Go inside, Cal.”

  Calpurnia opened the screen door, latched it behind her, then unlatched it and heldonto the hook. She tried to block Jem and me with her body, but we looked out frombeneath her arms.

  “Take him, Mr. Finch.” Mr. Tate handed the rifle to Atticus; Jem and I nearly fainted.

  “Don’t waste time, Heck,” said Atticus. “Go on.”

  “Mr. Finch, this is a one-shot job.”

  Atticus shook his head vehemently: “Don’t just stand there, Heck! He won’t wait all dayfor you—”

  “For God’s sake, Mr. Finch, look where he is! Miss and you’ll go straight into theRadley house! I can’t shoot that well and you know it!”

  “I haven’t shot a gun in thirty years—”

  Mr. Tate almost threw the rifle at Atticus. “I’d feel mighty comfortable if you did now,”

  he said.

  In a fog, Jem and I watched our father take the gun and walk out into the middle of thestreet. He walked quickly, but I thought he moved like an underwater swimmer: time hadslowed to a nauseating crawl.

  When Atticus raised his glasses Calpurnia murmured, “Sweet Jesus help him,” andput her hands to her cheeks.

  Atticus pushed his glasses to his forehead; they slipped down, and he dropped themin the street. In the silence, I heard them crack. Atticus rubbed his eyes and chin; wesaw him blink hard.

  In front of the Radley gate, Tim Johnson had made up what was left of his mind. Hehad finally turned himself around, to pursue his original course up our street. He madetwo steps forward, then stopped and raised his head. We saw his body go rigid.

  With movements so swift they seemed simultaneous, Atticus’s hand yanked a ball-tipped lever as he brought the gun to his shoulder.

  The rifle cracked. Tim Johnson leaped, flopped over and crumpled on the sidewalk ina brown-and-white heap. He didn’t know what hit him.

  Mr. Tate jumped off the porch and ran to the Radley Place. He stopped in front of thedog, squatted, turned around and tapped his finger on his forehead above his left eye.

  “You were a little to the right, Mr. Finch,” he called.

  “Always was,” answered Atticus. “If I had my ‘druthers I’d take a shotgun.”

  He stooped and picked up his glasses, ground the broken lenses to powder under hisheel, and went to Mr. Tate and stood looking down at Tim Johnson.

  Doors opened one by one, and the neighborhood slowly came alive. Miss Maudiewalked down the steps with Miss Stephanie Crawford.

  Jem was paralyzed. I pinched him to get him moving, but when Atticus saw us cominghe called, “Stay where you are.”

  When Mr. Tate and Atticus returned to the yard, Mr. Tate was smiling. “I’ll have Zeebocollect him,” he said. “You haven’t forgot much, Mr. Finch. They say it never leavesyou.”

  Atticus was silent.

  “Atticus?” said Jem.

  “Yes?”

  “Nothin‘.”

  “I saw that, One-Shot Finch!”

  Atticus wheeled around and faced Miss Maudie. They looked at one another withoutsaying anything, and Atticus got into the sheriff’s car. “Come here,” he said to Jem.

  “Don’t you go near that dog, you understand? Don’t go near him, he’s just as dangerousdead as alive.”

  “Yes sir,” said Jem. “Atticus—”

  “What, son?”

  “Nothing.”

  “What’s the matter with you, boy, can’t you talk?” said Mr. Tate, grinning at Jem.

  “Didn’t you know your daddy’s—”

  “Hush, Heck,” said Atticus, “let’s go back to town.”

  When they drove away, Jem and I went to Miss Stephanie’s front steps. We satwaiting for Zeebo to arrive in the garbage truck.

  Jem sat in numb confusion, and Miss Stephanie said, “Uh, uh, uh, who’da thought of amad dog in February? Maybe he wadn’t mad, maybe he was just crazy. I’d hate to seeHarry Johnson’s face when he gets in from the Mobile run and finds Atticus Finch’s shothis dog. Bet he was just full of fleas from somewhere—”

  Miss Maudie said Miss Stephanie’d be singing a different tune if Tim Johnson was stillcoming up the street, that they’d find out soon enough, they’d send his head toMontgomery.

  Jem became vaguely articulate: “‘d you see him, Scout? ’d you see him just standin‘there?… ’n‘ all of a sudden he just relaxed all over, an’ it looked like that gun was a partof him… an‘ he did it so quick, like… I hafta aim for ten minutes ’fore I can hitsomethin‘…”

  Miss Maudie grinned wickedly. “Well now, Miss Jean Louise,” she said, “still think yourfather can’t do anything? Still ashamed of him?”

  “Nome,” I said meekly.

  “Forgot to tell you the other day that besides playing the Jew’s Harp, Atticus Finch wasthe deadest shot in Maycomb County in his time.”

  “Dead shot…” echoed Jem.

  “That’s what I said, Jem Finch. Guess you’ll change your tune now. The very idea,didn’t you know his nickname was Ol‘ One-Shot when he was a boy? Why, down at theLanding when he was coming up, if he shot fifteen times and hit fourteen doves he’dcomplain about wasting ammunition.”

  “He never said anything about that,” Jem muttered.

  “Never said anything about it, did he?”

  “No ma’am.”

  “Wonder why he never goes huntin‘ now,” I said.

  “Maybe I can tell you,” said Miss Maudie. “If your father’s anything, he’s civilized in hisheart. Marksmanship’s a gift of God, a talent—oh, you have to practice to make itperfect, but shootin’s different from playing the piano or the like. I think maybe he put hisgun down when he realized that God had given him an unfair advantage over mostliving things. I guess he decided he wouldn’t shoot till he had to, and he had to today.”

  “Looks like he’d be proud of it,” I said.

  “People in their right minds never take pride in their talents,” said Miss Maudie.

  We saw Zeebo drive up. He took a pitchfork from the back of the garbage truck andgingerly lifted Tim Johnson. He pitched the dog onto the truck, then poured somethingfrom a gallon jug on and around the spot where Tim fell. “Don’t yawl come over here fora while,” he called.

  When we went home I told Jem we’d really have something to talk about at school onMonday. Jem turned on me.

  “Don’t say anything about it, Scout,” he said.

  “What? I certainly am. Ain’t everybody’s daddy the deadest shot in Maycomb County.”

  Jem said, “I reckon if he’d wanted us to know it, he’da told us. If he was proud of it,he’da told us.”

  “Maybe it just slipped his mind,” I said.

  “Naw, Scout, it’s something you wouldn’t understand. Atticus is real old, but I wouldn’tcare if he couldn’t do anything—I wouldn’t care if he couldn’t do a blessed thing.”

  Jem picked up a rock and threw it jubilantly at the carhouse. Running after it, he calledback: “Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!”

阿迪克斯身体很虚弱:他快五十岁了。我和杰姆问他为什么这么老,他说成家立业太晚;我们感到,这一点使得人们认为他缺乏能力和男子气概。此起与我们年龄相仿的同学的父母来,他的年纪大得多。当同学们说起他们的爸爸时,我或杰姆对我们的爸爸却没有什么可说的。
杰姆是个橄榄球迷。阿迪克斯再累也会陪他玩。但打球时,如果杰姆抱住他要把他摔倒的话,阿迪克斯就说:“我太老了,受不了这个,孩子。”
我们的爸爸什么都不做。他在律师事务所工作,不是在杂货店’他不是给县里开自动卸货卡车的,不是县司法官;他不干农活,不在汽车间工作,也不干什么其他能够}f人羡慕的工作。
除此之外,他还戴眼镜。左眼几乎完全瞎了,他说芬奇家族的人左眼都有毛病。每次要仔细看什么东西时,他要扭过头用右眼看。
同学们的爸爸千的事他都不干:从不打猎,不玩扑克,不钓鱼,不喝酒,不抽烟。他坐在客厅晕看书。
尽管有这样的性格,他并不象我们希望的那样默默无闻:那一年,对他为汤姆?鲁宾逊辩护一事,学校里淡论纷纷,没一句话是说他好的。和塞西尔?雅各布较量后,我决定采取骂不还口打不还手的策略。于是有人说斯各特?芬奇再不会打架了,她爸爸不让她打。这并不完全对:我不会为阿迪克斯在外面打架,但家里是私人场所。从远房表兄弟算起,我淮都会打,决不手软。举例说吧,弗朗西斯?汉考克就知道这一点。
阿迪克斯给我们气抢时,不愿意教我们怎么打。因此,杰克叔叔教了我们点入门知识。他说阿迪克斯对枪不感兴趣。有一天,阿迪克斯对杰姆说:“我希望你们在后院打罐头盒,但我知道你们会去打鸟的。如果愿意的话,你们可以把所有的蓝背桎鸟都打下来,但记住,打死反舌鸟是一种罪恶。”
听阿迪克斯说干某件事是罪恶,这是唯一的一次。我向莫迪小姐打听了一下。
“你爸爸说得对,”她说,“反舌鸟除了唱歌供我们欣赏外,不千别的事。它们不到花园里啄花,不在谷仓里筑巢。除了为我们尽情歌唱外,不干别的。这就是为什么打死反舌鸟是一种罪恶。”
“莫迪小姐,这儿的街坊都老了,是吗?”
“他们在这个镇建立以前就来了。”
“不是的,我是说这条街上的人年纪都很老了。这附近只有我和杰姆两个小孩。杜博斯太太快一百岁了,雷切尔小姐老了,你和阿迪克斯也老了。”
“我不认为五十多岁就算很老,”莫迪小姐尖刻地回答,“我还没有被人用车子推肴走,是不是?你爸爸也不是这样。IH我必须说,上帝把我那幢古老的、又大又阴森的房子烧掉,实在是做了件好事。我太老了,没能力料理这么大一幢房子……可能你说得对,琼?路易斯,这附近的人年纪都犬了,你们周围总是没有什么年轻人,是吗?’
“有的,学校里有。”
“我指的是年轻的成年人。你知道,你真有福气。因为你爸爸这个年纪,你和杰姆得了不少好处。要是你爸爸才三十岁的话,你会发现生活完全不同。”
“我当然会发现的。阿迪克斯什么都干不了……”
。你会吃惊的,”莫迪小姐说,“他还很有活力呢。”
“他能干什么?”
。他可以帮助别人把遗嘱立得无懈可击,谁都别想在上面打主意。”
。真的……”
。你知道吗,这个镇上,他的跳棋下得最好?在庄园上我们还年轻的时候,阿迪克斯可以下赢河两岸所有的人。”
“天啊,莫迪小姐,我和杰姆每次都赢他。”
“你们该知道,是他让你们的。你知道他会吹单簧口琴吗?”
为这点小事还赞扬他,我更为他不好意恩了。
“这……”她说。
“这什么,莫迪小姐?”
。没什么。没什么了——我看尽管这样你们也该为他感到骄傲呢。不是每个人都能吹单簧口琴的。好了,别挡住术匠的路。你最好回去吧,我要去看看杜鹃花了,不能照看你,木板会打着你的。”
我回到后院,看见杰姆正一心一意地忙着打罐头盒。放着周围那么多蓝背桎鸟不打,专弄这玩意儿,我看有点傻。我回到前院,忙了两个小时,在走廊上修建了一个复杂的军事掩体,材料有一个轮胎,一个装橘予用的板条箱,一个洗衣服用的篮子,走廊上的几把椅子,还有杰姆给我的从装爆米花盒上撕下来的一面小小的美国国旗。
阿迪克斯回来吃饭时发现我正蹲着对着街对面瞄准。“你在瞄什么?”
“莫迪小姐的屁股。
阿迪克斯转过身去,看见我那大靶子正弯着腰看她的花草。他把帽子往脑后一推,朝街对面走去。。莫迪,”他喊起来,。我想我最好警告你,你的处藏很危险。”
莫迪小姐直起腰朝我看了看。她说;“阿迪克斯,你是个机灵鬼。”
阿迪克斯回来后叫我撤营。“别再让我看见你用那枝枪瞄准任何人。”他说。.
要是我爸爸真的是个机灵鬼就好了。我试探了卡尔珀尼亚对这个问题的看法。“芬奇先生?噢,他会干很多事。”
“能干什么?”我问。
卡尔珀尼亚搔搔脑袋。“这个,我不太清楚。”
杰姆以强调的口气问阿迪克斯他是否会代表卫理公会参加橄榄球比赛时,阿迪克斯说如果他去的话他会摔死的。他年纪大了,不能干这种事了。卫理公会的教徒们正设法并钱偿还修教堂时的抵押借款。他们向授理会挑战,要和他们进行一场触身法橄榄球赛。好象镇上每个小孩的爸爸都将参加比赛,只有阿迪克斯例外。杰姆说他去都不想去,但他无论如何抵制不住橄榄球的诱惑。他闷闷不乐地与阿迪克斯和我站在场外,观看塞西尔?雅各布的爸爸为浸礼会得分。
一个星期六,我和杰姆决定带着我们的气枪出去转转,看能不能碰上只野兔或者松鼠。过了拉德利家的房子大约五百码左右,我突然发现杰婀斜着眼看着街上的什么东西。他的头转向一侧,从眼角向外看着。
“你在看什么?”
“那边那条老狗。”他说。
“那是老蒂姆?约翰逊吗?”
“是的。”
蒂姆?约翰逊是哈里?约翰逊的。哈里住在镇子南边,开公共汽车跑莫比尔。蒂姆是条红褐色的捕鸟猎犬,是梅科姆镇挺逗人喜欢的狗。
“它在干什么?”
“不知道,我们最好回家去。”
“杰姆,现在是二月份。”
“我不管几月,我要去告诉卡尔。”
我们跑回去,冲进厨房。
“卡尔,”杰姆说,“你能到人行道上来一下吗?”
“什么事,杰姆?我不是每次你喊我我就能去的。”
“那边有条老狗好象有病。”
卡尔珀尼亚叹了口气,“我现在不能为狗包扎腿了,盥洗室有些纱布,去拿来你们自己包吧。”
杰姆摇摇头:“它有病,有些不正常。”
“它在干什么,想咬自己的尾巴吗?”
“不,它是这样的。”
杰姆象金鱼一样,嘴一-丌一闭地喘着,缩肩弓背地抽搐着。“它这样走,只是好象不受自己控制。”
“你在给我编故事吗,杰姆?芬奇?”卡尔珀尼亚的声音严厉起来。
“不是的,卡尔,我发誓,不是的。”
“它在跑吗?”
“没有,只是慢慢儿走,慢得几乎看不出来。正朝这边来。”
卡尔珀尼亚冼洗手,跟着杰姆来到院子。“我没看见狗。”她说。
她跟着我们走过拉德利家,然后朝杰姆指的地方看去。蒂姆?约翰逊从远处看上去只是一个小点,但是离我们这边近些了。它走路很不稳,好象右腿比左腿短一些似的。看见它,我想起了一辆陷在沙子里的小汽车。
“它一边高一边低。”杰姆说。
卡尔珀尼亚瞪大眼睛看了看,然后抓着我们的肩膀,三个人一起跑回家去。她关上身后的木门,走过去拿起电话叫起来:“我要芬奇先生的事务所。”
“芬奇先生,”她叫着说,“我是卡尔,我向上帝发誓,街上离这儿不远的地方有条疯狗一一正朝这边走来,是的,先生,它是……芬奇先生,我断定它是……蒂姆?约翰逊,是韵,先生……是的,先生……是的……”
她挂上电话,我刚要问她阿迪克斯说了什么时.她摇摇头。她用力摇摇电话,然后说:“尤拉?梅小姐,我给芬奇先生的电话打完了,我不用占线了。听我说,尤拉?梅小姐,请你打个电话给雷切尔小姐,斯蒂芬尼?克劳福德小姐以及这条街上所有有电话的人家,告诉他们来了一条疯狗,麻烦你了,小姐。”
卡尔珀尼亚听了一会儿。“我知道现在是二月份,尤拉?梅小姐,但是我一看就认得出疯狗。请快一点。”
卡尔珀尼亚问杰姆:“拉德利家有电话吗?”
杰姆查了查电话簿说没有。“他们反正不会出来。”
“我不管,我要告诉他们。”
她跑到前面的走廊,杰姆和我紧跟在后边。“你们呆在家里!”她火叫起来。
邻居都接到了卡尔珀尼亚的通知。我们看得见的木门都紧紧地关上了。在这儿还看不见蒂姆?约翰逊的影子。我们看着卡尔珀尼亚朝拉德利家跑去,裙子和围裙提在膝盖以上。她上了屋前的台阶敲起门来。没人回答。她喊起来。“内森先生,亚瑟先生,疯狗来了!疯狗来了!”
“她应该绕到后面去。”我说。
杰姆摇摇头。“这时候顾不了那些了。”
卡尔珀尼亚用劲捶门,还是没人回答。没人表示得到了她的替告。好象没人听到似的。
卡尔珀尼亚跑回后廊时,一辆黑色的福特牌汽车开了过来。阿迪克斯和赫克?塔特从车上走出来。
赫克-塔特先生是梅科姆县的司法官。他和阿迪克斯一样高,但瘦一些。他的鼻子很长,穿着长统靴,靴子上有光亮的金属小孔,身着马裤和伐术工人穿的甲克衫,皮带上捅着一排子弹。他带了枝步枪。他和阿迪克斯来到走廊上时,杰姆打开门。
“呆在里边,孩子。”阿迪克斯说,“狗在哪儿,卡尔?”
“现在应该到这儿了。”卡尔珀尼亚指着街上说。
“它不是在跑吧?”塔特先生问。
“不跑,先生。还在抽搐阶段。”
“我们要去找一找吗,赫克?”阿迪克斯问。
“最好等一等,芬奇先生。疯狗通常笔直往前走,但也说不定。也可能顺着路拐弯——希望是这样,要不,它会一直走到拉德利家的后院去。我们稍等一会儿。”
“别以为它会进拉德利家的院子,栅栏会挡住它的。很可能会顺着路走过来……”阿迪克斯说。
我原来以为疯狗口吐白沫,连跑带跳地朝人的喉咙扑去呢,我还以为八月份才有疯狗。要是蒂姆?约翰逊有这些症状的话,我就不会吓成这样了。
街上一个入也设有,人们在静静地等待,没有比这更令人受不了的。树叶丝纹不动,反舌鸟停止了歌唱,莫迪小姐家的木匠也不见了。我只听见塔特先生不时用鼻子出声地吸气,然后又擤鼻子。又见他把枪换到胳膊的弯曲部分。我还看见斯蒂芬尼?克劳福德的脸出现在她家前门的玻璃窗内。莫迪小姐出现在她身旁,和她并肩站着。阿迪克斯提脚蹬在椅子的横档上,手在大腿侧面摩挲。
“过来了。”他轻声说。
可以看见蒂姆-约翰逊了。它在和拉德利家平行的弯道上的内侧漫无目标地走着。
“快看,”杰姆小声说,“赫克先生说疯狗笔直地走,它连顺路走都不会。”
“看起来病得很厉害。”我说。
“在它前面放样东西,它会直接往上撞的。”
塔特先生把手放到前额上,身子往前倾。“确实疯了,芬奇先生。”
蒂姆?约翰逊十分缓慢地移动,但不是在玩或者闻地上的树叶:好象被固定在一条线路上,在一种无形的力量的推动下朝我们移动。我们可以看见它的身体象马在驱散苍蝇时那样不停地颤抖,嘴一张一合的。它身子一边高一边低,正慢慢地朝我们这边移动。
“它正在找个地方死。”杰姆说。
塔特先生转过身:“离死还早着呢,杰姆。”
蒂姆-约翰逊来到拉德利家门前的小路,它的可怜的大脯还清醒的那部分使它停下来,好象在考虑走哪条路。它犹豫不决地走了几步,停在拉德币Ⅱ家的大门前,后来想转过身,但很困难。’
阿迪克斯说:“在射程之内了,赫克。你最好现在干掉它,不然就会上小路了……天知道拐角处有什么人没有。卡尔,到里边去!”
卡尔珀尼亚打开纱门,随手拴上,又打开,抓住门钩。她想用身体挡住我和杰姆,但我们从她的胳膊下往外看。
“干掉它,芬奇先生I”塔特先生把枪交给阿遭克斯。我和杰姆差点昏倒。自七
“别浪费时间,赫克。”阿迪克斯说,“你打吧。”
“芬奇先生,这是要一枪解决问题的。”
阿迪克斯使劲摇头:“别光站在那儿,赫克!它不会等你一天的……”
“看在上帝的面上,芬奇先生,看它到哪儿了!要是打得不准,就会打到拉德利家去的!我打不了那么准,这你知道!”
“我有三十年没打枪了……”
塔特先生几乎是把枪扔给阿迪克斯的。“如果你现在就打的话,我会觉得轻松得多。”他说。
我们可以模模糊糊地看见爸爸接过枪,走到街中心。他走得很快,但我觉得他象潜水员那样游动。时间过得真慢,令人心烦。
阿迪克斯把眼镜向上推时,卡尔珀尼亚轻轻地说:“耶稣保佑他。”然后把手捂在睑上。
阿迪克斯把眼镜推到前额上,又滑了下来,他干脆把眼镜扔到地上。一切都静悄悄的,我听见眼镜掉在地上打碎了。阿迪克斯揉揉眼睛,摸摸下巴。我看见他使劲眨眼睛。
在拉德利家的大门前,蒂姆?约翰逊还清醒的那部分大脑已打定主意,最后总算转过身来,顺着原来的路线沿街走过来。它向前走两步。停下来抬起头。我们看见它的身体突然变得僵硬了。
阿迪克斯动作敏捷,把枪端起顶住肩膀,然后手猛地拉动一端是个小圆球的拉杆,仿佛这些动作是同时发生的一样。
枪砰地一声响了。蒂姆?约翰逊跳起来,噗地一声倒下在人行道上滚了滚,缩成了一团棕白色的东西。它不知是什么东西打中了它。
塔特先生跳下走廊,朝拉德利家跑去。他在狗的前边蹲下来,然后转过身,手指着自己的左眼上方说:“偏右了一点,芬奇先生。”他喊遭。
“总是偏右,”阿迪克斯说,“要是有选择的余地,我愿意用猎枪。’
他弯腰抬起眼镜,用脚跟把摔破的镜片碾得粉碎,然后走到塔特先生身边,低头看着蒂姆?约翰逊。
门一扇扇打开了,整条街又慢慢有了生气。莫迪小姐和斯蒂芬尼?克劳福德小姐一同走下台阶。
杰姆呆呆地站着不动,我拧他一下,Hq他快走。阿迪克斯见我们过来,喊起来:“呆在原地别动。”
和阿迪克斯回到院里时,塔特先生脸上堆满了笑容。“我会喊齐波来收它的尸体的.”他说,“你的枪法还那么准,芬奇先生。他们说你永远丢不了。”
阿迪克斯没说话。
“阿迪克斯'”杰姆问。
“嗯?”
“没什么。”
“我看见了,‘弹无虚发的芬奇’!”
阿迪克斯转身看着莫迪小姐。他们相互对视,没说话,然后阿迪克斯进了司法官的车。“过来,”他对杰姆说,“别到狗边上去,明白吗?别靠近那狗,它虽然死了,还和活着一样危险。’
“听见了,爸爸。”杰姆说,“阿迪克斯……”
。什么事,孩子?”
‘没什么。”.
“你怎么了,孩子?你不能说出来吗?”塔特先生朝杰姆笑了笑说。“你不知道你爸爸是……”
“别说了,赫克,我们回镇上去吧。”阿迪克斯说。
车走后,杰姆和我来到斯蒂芬尼家前面的台阶上,坐着等待齐波开垃圾车来。
杰姆呆呆地坐在那儿,惘然若失。只听得斯蒂芬尼说:“哎砑呀,谁会想到二月份有疯狗?可能并不是疯狗,只是发癫罢了。我真不愿意看见哈里?约翰逊从莫比尔回来发现阿迪克斯打死了他的狗时的表情。我想它一定只是从哪儿沾了一身跳蚤罢了……”
莫迪小姐说,假如蒂姆?约翰逊还在街上,正朝这边走来的话,斯蒂芬尼小姐唱的就会是另一个调子了,还说究竟是不是疯狗,他们很快就会知道,因为很快会把狗头送到蒙哥马利去化验。
杰姆说话了:“你看见他吗,斯各特?看见他站在那儿吗?……他突然全身放松,那枝枪就象他身体的一部分似的……他那么快就开了枪,好象……我要打什么的话,至少要瞄十分钟……”
莫迪小姐狡黠地笑了笑。。琼?路易斯,这下还认为你爸爸什么都不能干吗?还为他感到丢脸吗?”
“不了。”我温顺地说。
“那天忘记告诉你了,阿迪克斯不但能吹单簧口琴,年轻时还是梅科姆县大名鼎鼎的神枪手。”
“神枪手……”杰姆情不自禁地重复了一句。
。我是这么说的,杰姆。我想你现在也会改变你的调子了。想想看!他还是孩子的时候,他的绰号叫‘弹无虚发’!这点你不知道吗?他年轻的时候在庄园上,要是十五枪打下十四只鸽子,他会抱怨浪费了子弹。”
“他从没提过这些事。”杰姆说.
“他从没提过这些事吗?”
“没有,小姐。”
“不知为什么他现在不打猎了。”我说。
“也许我可以告诉你,”莫迪小姐说,“要说你爸爸与别人有什么不同的话,那就是他的心灵是文明的。神枪法是一种天赋,是一种本领——当然,你得通过练习才能学会这种本领,但射击与弹钢琴或类似的事情不同。我想他放下枪是因为意识到上帝给了他一种不公平的、超越大部分生物的才能。我猜想他决定不到万不得已的时候不再打枪,今天他是不得不打。”
“看起来他应该为这个感到骄傲。”我说。
“头脑正常的人从不因自己的才能而感到骄傲。”莫迪小姐说。
我看见齐波的车开过来了。他从垃圾车后拿出把干草叉,小心谨慎地挑起蒂姆?约翰逊,把它扔进车箱,然后用一个汽油壶朝蒂姆躺过的地方及周围洒了些什么。“你们这阵子还不能过来。”他叫道。
圆家后我对杰姆说,星期一上学,我们可真的有东西谈沦了。可杰姆对我翻脸了。
“什么都别提,斯各特。”他说。
“什么?我当然要说。在梅科姆县,不是每个人的爸爸都是神枪手。”
杰姆说:“我看如果他想让我们知道,他早就告诉我们了。要是他为这个感到骄傲,他早就告诉我们了。”
“可能他忘了。”我说。
“不是的,斯各特,这个你不懂。阿迪克斯确实老了,但是,即使他什么事都不会做,我也不在乎——即使他什么都不会干,我也不在乎。”
杰姆拾起块石头,喜气洋洋地朝车库扔去,然后追过去。他回头喊道:“阿迪克斯是个有教养的人,就象我一样。”



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