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Chapter 15

      After many telephone calls, much pleading on behalf of the defendant, and a longforgiving letter from his mother, it was decided that Dill could stay. We had a week ofpeace together. After that, little, it seemed. A nightmare was upon us.

  It began one evening after supper. Dill was over; Aunt Alexandra was in her chair inthe corner, Atticus was in his; Jem and I were on the floor reading. It had been a placidweek: I had minded Aunty; Jem had outgrown the treehouse, but helped Dill and meconstruct a new rope ladder for it; Dill had hit upon a foolproof plan to make Boo Radleycome out at no cost to ourselves (place a trail of lemon drops from the back door to thefront yard and he’d follow it, like an ant). There was a knock on the front door, Jemanswered it and said it was Mr. Heck Tate.

  “Well, ask him to come in,” said Atticus.

  “I already did. There’s some men outside in the yard, they want you to come out.”

  In Maycomb, grown men stood outside in the front yard for only two reasons: deathand politics. I wondered who had died. Jem and I went to the front door, but Atticuscalled, “Go back in the house.”

  Jem turned out the livingroom lights and pressed his nose to a window screen. AuntAlexandra protested. “Just for a second, Aunty, let’s see who it is,” he said.

  Dill and I took another window. A crowd of men was standing around Atticus. They allseemed to be talking at once.

  “…movin‘ him to the county jail tomorrow,” Mr. Tate was saying, “I don’t look for anytrouble, but I can’t guarantee there won’t be any…”

  “Don’t be foolish, Heck,” Atticus said. “This is Maycomb.”

  “…said I was just uneasy.”

  “Heck, we’ve gotten one postponement of this case just to make sure there’s nothingto be uneasy about. This is Saturday,” Atticus said. “Trial’ll probably be Monday. Youcan keep him one night, can’t you? I don’t think anybody in Maycomb’ll begrudge me aclient, with times this hard.”

  There was a murmur of glee that died suddenly when Mr. Link Deas said, “Nobodyaround here’s up to anything, it’s that Old Sarum bunch I’m worried about… can’t youget a—what is it, Heck?”

  “Change of venue,” said Mr. Tate. “Not much point in that, now is it?”

  Atticus said something inaudible. I turned to Jem, who waved me to silence.

  “—besides,” Atticus was saying, “you’re not scared of that crowd, are you?”

  “…know how they do when they get shinnied up.”

  “They don’t usually drink on Sunday, they go to church most of the day…” Atticus said.

  “This is a special occasion, though…” someone said.

  They murmured and buzzed until Aunty said if Jem didn’t turn on the livingroom lightshe would disgrace the family. Jem didn’t hear her.

  “—don’t see why you touched it in the first place,” Mr. Link Deas was saying. “You’vegot everything to lose from this, Atticus. I mean everything.”

  “Do you really think so?”

  This was Atticus’s dangerous question. “Do you really think you want to move there,Scout?” Bam, bam, bam, and the checkerboard was swept clean of my men. “Do youreally think that, son? Then read this.” Jem would struggle the rest of an eveningthrough the speeches of Henry W. Grady.

  “Link, that boy might go to the chair, but he’s not going till the truth’s told.” Atticus’svoice was even. “And you know what the truth is.”

  There was a murmur among the group of men, made more ominous when Atticusmoved back to the bottom front step and the men drew nearer to him.

  Suddenly Jem screamed, “Atticus, the telephone’s ringing!”

  The men jumped a little and scattered; they were people we saw every day:

  merchants, in-town farmers; Dr. Reynolds was there; so was Mr. Avery.

  “Well, answer it, son,” called Atticus.

  Laughter broke them up. When Atticus switched on the overhead light in thelivingroom he found Jem at the window, pale except for the vivid mark of the screen onhis nose.

  “Why on earth are you all sitting in the dark?” he asked.

  Jem watched him go to his chair and pick up the evening paper. I sometimes thinkAtticus subjected every crisis of his life to tranquil evaluation behind The MobileRegister, The Birmingham News and The Montgomery Advertiser.

  “They were after you, weren’t they?” Jem went to him. “They wanted to get you, didn’tthey?”

  Atticus lowered the paper and gazed at Jem. “What have you been reading?” heasked. Then he said gently, “No son, those were our friends.”

  “It wasn’t a—a gang?” Jem was looking from the corners of his eyes.

  Atticus tried to stifle a smile but didn’t make it. “No, we don’t have mobs and thatnonsense in Maycomb. I’ve never heard of a gang in Maycomb.”

  “Ku Klux got after some Catholics one time.”

  “Never heard of any Catholics in Maycomb either,” said Atticus, “you’re confusing thatwith something else. Way back about nineteen-twenty there was a Klan, but it was apolitical organization more than anything. Besides, they couldn’t find anybody to scare.

  They paraded by Mr. Sam Levy’s house one night, but Sam just stood on his porch andtold ‘em things had come to a pretty pass, he’d sold ’em the very sheets on their backs.

  Sam made ‘em so ashamed of themselves they went away.”

  The Levy family met all criteria for being Fine Folks: they did the best they could withthe sense they had, and they had been living on the same plot of ground in Maycombfor five generations.

  “The Ku Klux’s gone,” said Atticus. “It’ll never come back.”

  I walked home with Dill and returned in time to overhear Atticus saying to Aunty, “…infavor of Southern womanhood as much as anybody, but not for preserving polite fictionat the expense of human life,” a pronouncement that made me suspect they had beenfussing again.

  I sought Jem and found him in his room, on the bed deep in thought. “Have they beenat it?” I asked.

  “Sort of. She won’t let him alone about Tom Robinson. She almost said Atticus wasdisgracin‘ the family. Scout… I’m scared.”

  “Scared’a what?”

  “Scared about Atticus. Somebody might hurt him.” Jem preferred to remainmysterious; all he would say to my questions was go on and leave him alone.

  Next day was Sunday. In the interval between Sunday School and Church when thecongregation stretched its legs, I saw Atticus standing in the yard with another knot ofmen. Mr. Heck Tate was present, and I wondered if he had seen the light. He neverwent to church. Even Mr. Underwood was there. Mr. Underwood had no use for anyorganization but The Maycomb Tribune, of which he was the sole owner, editor, andprinter. His days were spent at his linotype, where he refreshed himself occasionallyfrom an ever-present gallon jug of cherry wine. He rarely gathered news; people broughtit to him. It was said that he made up every edition of The Maycomb Tribune out of hisown head and wrote it down on the linotype. This was believable. Something must havebeen up to haul Mr. Underwood out.

  I caught Atticus coming in the door, and he said that they’d moved Tom Robinson tothe Maycomb jail. He also said, more to himself than to me, that if they’d kept him therein the first place there wouldn’t have been any fuss. I watched him take his seat on thethird row from the front, and I heard him rumble, “Nearer my God to thee,” some notesbehind the rest of us. He never sat with Aunty, Jem and me. He liked to be by himself inchurch.

  The fake peace that prevailed on Sundays was made more irritating by AuntAlexandra’s presence. Atticus would flee to his office directly after dinner, where if wesometimes looked in on him, we would find him sitting back in his swivel chair reading.

  Aunt Alexandra composed herself for a two-hour nap and dared us to make any noise inthe yard, the neighborhood was resting. Jem in his old age had taken to his room with astack of football magazines. So Dill and I spent our Sundays creeping around in Deer’sPasture.

  Shooting on Sundays was prohibited, so Dill and I kicked Jem’s football around thepasture for a while, which was no fun. Dill asked if I’d like to have a poke at Boo Radley.

  I said I didn’t think it’d be nice to bother him, and spent the rest of the afternoon fillingDill in on last winter’s events. He was considerably impressed.

  We parted at suppertime, and after our meal Jem and I were settling down to a routineevening, when Atticus did something that interested us: he came into the livingroomcarrying a long electrical extension cord. There was a light bulb on the end.

  “I’m going out for a while,” he said. “You folks’ll be in bed when I come back, so I’ll saygood night now.”

  With that, he put his hat on and went out the back door.

  “He’s takin‘ the car,” said Jem.

  Our father had a few peculiarities: one was, he never ate desserts; another was thathe liked to walk. As far back as I could remember, there was always a Chevrolet inexcellent condition in the carhouse, and Atticus put many miles on it in business trips,but in Maycomb he walked to and from his office four times a day, covering about twomiles. He said his only exercise was walking. In Maycomb, if one went for a walk with nodefinite purpose in mind, it was correct to believe one’s mind incapable of definitepurpose.

  Later on, I bade my aunt and brother good night and was well into a book when Iheard Jem rattling around in his room. His go-to-bed noises were so familiar to me that Iknocked on his door: “Why ain’t you going to bed?”

  “I’m goin‘ downtown for a while.” He was changing his pants.

  “Why? It’s almost ten o’clock, Jem.”

  He knew it, but he was going anyway.

  “Then I’m goin‘ with you. If you say no you’re not, I’m goin’ anyway, hear?”

  Jem saw that he would have to fight me to keep me home, and I suppose he thought afight would antagonize Aunty, so he gave in with little grace.

  I dressed quickly. We waited until Aunty’s light went out, and we walked quietly downthe back steps. There was no moon tonight.

  “Dill’ll wanta come,” I whispered.

  “So he will,” said Jem gloomily.

  We leaped over the driveway wall, cut through Miss Rachel’s side yard and went toDill’s window. Jem whistled bob-white. Dill’s face appeared at the screen, disappeared,and five minutes later he unhooked the screen and crawled out. An old campaigner, hedid not speak until we were on the sidewalk. “What’s up?”

  “Jem’s got the look-arounds,” an affliction Calpurnia said all boys caught at his age.

  “I’ve just got this feeling,” Jem said, “just this feeling.”

  We went by Mrs. Dubose’s house, standing empty and shuttered, her camellias grownup in weeds and johnson grass. There were eight more houses to the post office corner.

  The south side of the square was deserted. Giant monkey-puzzle bushes bristled oneach corner, and between them an iron hitching rail glistened under the street lights. Alight shone in the county toilet, otherwise that side of the courthouse was dark. A largersquare of stores surrounded the courthouse square; dim lights burned from deep withinthem.

  Atticus’s office was in the courthouse when he began his law practice, but afterseveral years of it he moved to quieter quarters in the Maycomb Bank building. Whenwe rounded the corner of the square, we saw the car parked in front of the bank. “He’sin there,” said Jem.

  But he wasn’t. His office was reached by a long hallway. Looking down the hall, weshould have seen Atticus Finch, Attorney-at-Law in small sober letters against the lightfrom behind his door. It was dark.

  Jem peered in the bank door to make sure. He turned the knob. The door was locked.

  “Let’s go up the street. Maybe he’s visitin‘ Mr. Underwood.”

  Mr. Underwood not only ran The Maycomb Tribune office, he lived in it. That is, aboveit. He covered the courthouse and jailhouse news simply by looking out his upstairswindow. The office building was on the northwest corner of the square, and to reach itwe had to pass the jail.

  The Maycomb jail was the most venerable and hideous of the county’s buildings.

  Atticus said it was like something Cousin Joshua St. Clair might have designed. It wascertainly someone’s dream. Starkly out of place in a town of square-faced stores andsteep-roofed houses, the Maycomb jail was a miniature Gothic joke one cell wide andtwo cells high, complete with tiny battlements and flying buttresses. Its fantasy washeightened by its red brick facade and the thick steel bars at its ecclesiastical windows.

  It stood on no lonely hill, but was wedged between Tyndal’s Hardware Store and TheMaycomb Tribune office. The jail was Maycomb’s only conversation piece: its detractorssaid it looked like a Victorian privy; its supporters said it gave the town a good solidrespectable look, and no stranger would ever suspect that it was full of niggers.

  As we walked up the sidewalk, we saw a solitary light burning in the distance. “That’sfunny,” said Jem, “jail doesn’t have an outside light.”

  “Looks like it’s over the door,” said Dill.

  A long extension cord ran between the bars of a second-floor window and down theside of the building. In the light from its bare bulb, Atticus was sitting propped againstthe front door. He was sitting in one of his office chairs, and he was reading, oblivious ofthe nightbugs dancing over his head.

  I made to run, but Jem caught me. “Don’t go to him,” he said, “he might not like it. He’sall right, let’s go home. I just wanted to see where he was.”

  We were taking a short cut across the square when four dusty cars came in from theMeridian highway, moving slowly in a line. They went around the square, passed thebank building, and stopped in front of the jail.

  Nobody got out. We saw Atticus look up from his newspaper. He closed it, folded itdeliberately, dropped it in his lap, and pushed his hat to the back of his head. Heseemed to be expecting them.

  “Come on,” whispered Jem. We streaked across the square, across the street, untilwe were in the shelter of the Jitney Jungle door. Jem peeked up the sidewalk. “We canget closer,” he said. We ran to Tyndal’s Hardware door—near enough, at the same timediscreet.

  In ones and twos, men got out of the cars. Shadows became substance as lightsrevealed solid shapes moving toward the jail door. Atticus remained where he was. Themen hid him from view.

  “He in there, Mr. Finch?” a man said.

  “He is,” we heard Atticus answer, “and he’s asleep. Don’t wake him up.”

  In obedience to my father, there followed what I later realized was a sickeningly comicaspect of an unfunny situation: the men talked in near-whispers.

  “You know what we want,” another man said. “Get aside from the door, Mr. Finch.”

  “You can turn around and go home again, Walter,” Atticus said pleasantly. “HeckTate’s around somewhere.”

  “The hell he is,” said another man. “Heck’s bunch’s so deep in the woods they won’tget out till mornin‘.”

  “Indeed? Why so?”

  “Called ‘em off on a snipe hunt,” was the succinct answer. “Didn’t you think a’that, Mr.

  Finch?”

  “Thought about it, but didn’t believe it. Well then,” my father’s voice was still the same,“that changes things, doesn’t it?”

  “It do,” another deep voice said. Its owner was a shadow.

  “Do you really think so?”

  This was the second time I heard Atticus ask that question in two days, and it meantsomebody’s man would get jumped. This was too good to miss. I broke away from Jemand ran as fast as I could to Atticus.

  Jem shrieked and tried to catch me, but I had a lead on him and Dill. I pushed my waythrough dark smelly bodies and burst into the circle of light.

  “H-ey, Atticus!”

  I thought he would have a fine surprise, but his face killed my joy. A flash of plain fearwas going out of his eyes, but returned when Dill and Jem wriggled into the light.

  There was a smell of stale whiskey and pigpen about, and when I glanced around Idiscovered that these men were strangers. They were not the people I saw last night.

  Hot embarrassment shot through me: I had leaped triumphantly into a ring of people Ihad never seen before.

  Atticus got up from his chair, but he was moving slowly, like an old man. He put thenewspaper down very carefully, adjusting its creases with lingering fingers. They weretrembling a little.

  “Go home, Jem,” he said. “Take Scout and Dill home.”

  We were accustomed to prompt, if not always cheerful acquiescence to Atticus’sinstructions, but from the way he stood Jem was not thinking of budging.

  “Go home, I said.”

  Jem shook his head. As Atticus’s fists went to his hips, so did Jem’s, and as theyfaced each other I could see little resemblance between them: Jem’s soft brown hairand eyes, his oval face and snug-fitting ears were our mother’s, contrasting oddly withAtticus’s graying black hair and square-cut features, but they were somehow alike.

  Mutual defiance made them alike.

  “Son, I said go home.”

  Jem shook his head.

  “I’ll send him home,” a burly man said, and grabbed Jem roughly by the collar. Heyanked Jem nearly off his feet.

  “Don’t you touch him!” I kicked the man swiftly. Barefooted, I was surprised to see himfall back in real pain. I intended to kick his shin, but aimed too high.

  “That’ll do, Scout.” Atticus put his hand on my shoulder. “Don’t kick folks. No—” hesaid, as I was pleading justification.

  “Ain’t nobody gonna do Jem that way,” I said.

  “All right, Mr. Finch, get ‘em outa here,” someone growled. “You got fifteen seconds toget ’em outa here.”

  In the midst of this strange assembly, Atticus stood trying to make Jem mind him. “Iain’t going,” was his steady answer to Atticus’s threats, requests, and finally, “PleaseJem, take them home.”

  I was getting a bit tired of that, but felt Jem had his own reasons for doing as he did, inview of his prospects once Atticus did get him home. I looked around the crowd. It was asummer’s night, but the men were dressed, most of them, in overalls and denim shirtsbuttoned up to the collars. I thought they must be cold-natured, as their sleeves wereunrolled and buttoned at the cuffs. Some wore hats pulled firmly down over their ears.

  They were sullen-looking, sleepy-eyed men who seemed unused to late hours. I soughtonce more for a familiar face, and at the center of the semi-circle I found one.

  “Hey, Mr. Cunningham.”

  The man did not hear me, it seemed.

  “Hey, Mr. Cunningham. How’s your entailment gettin‘ along?”

  Mr. Walter Cunningham’s legal affairs were well known to me; Atticus had oncedescribed them at length. The big man blinked and hooked his thumbs in his overallstraps. He seemed uncomfortable; he cleared his throat and looked away. My friendlyoverture had fallen flat.

  Mr. Cunningham wore no hat, and the top half of his forehead was white in contrast tohis sunscorched face, which led me to believe that he wore one most days. He shiftedhis feet, clad in heavy work shoes.

  “Don’t you remember me, Mr. Cunningham? I’m Jean Louise Finch. You brought ussome hickory nuts one time, remember?” I began to sense the futility one feels whenunacknowledged by a chance acquaintance.

  “I go to school with Walter,” I began again. “He’s your boy, ain’t he? Ain’t he, sir?”

  Mr. Cunningham was moved to a faint nod. He did know me, after all.

  “He’s in my grade,” I said, “and he does right well. He’s a good boy,” I added, “a realnice boy. We brought him home for dinner one time. Maybe he told you about me, I beathim up one time but he was real nice about it. Tell him hey for me, won’t you?”

  Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they wereinterested in, not about what you were interested in. Mr. Cunningham displayed nointerest in his son, so I tackled his entailment once more in a last-ditch effort to makehim feel at home.

  “Entailments are bad,” I was advising him, when I slowly awoke to the fact that I wasaddressing the entire aggregation. The men were all looking at me, some had theirmouths half-open. Atticus had stopped poking at Jem: they were standing togetherbeside Dill. Their attention amounted to fascination. Atticus’s mouth, even, was half-open, an attitude he had once described as uncouth. Our eyes met and he shut it.

  “Well, Atticus, I was just sayin‘ to Mr. Cunningham that entailments are bad an’ allthat, but you said not to worry, it takes a long time sometimes… that you all’d ride it outtogether…” I was slowly drying up, wondering what idiocy I had committed. Entailmentsseemed all right enough for livingroom talk.

  I began to feel sweat gathering at the edges of my hair; I could stand anything but abunch of people looking at me. They were quite still.

  “What’s the matter?” I asked.

  Atticus said nothing. I looked around and up at Mr. Cunningham, whose face wasequally impassive. Then he did a peculiar thing. He squatted down and took me by bothshoulders.

  “I’ll tell him you said hey, little lady,” he said.

  Then he straightened up and waved a big paw. “Let’s clear out,” he called. “Let’s getgoing, boys.”

  As they had come, in ones and twos the men shuffled back to their ramshackle cars.

  Doors slammed, engines coughed, and they were gone.

  I turned to Atticus, but Atticus had gone to the jail and was leaning against it with hisface to the wall. I went to him and pulled his sleeve. “Can we go home now?” Henodded, produced his handkerchief, gave his face a going-over and blew his noseviolently.

  “Mr. Finch?”

  A soft husky voice came from the darkness above: “They gone?”

  Atticus stepped back and looked up. “They’ve gone,” he said. “Get some sleep, Tom.

  They won’t bother you any more.”

  From a different direction, another voice cut crisply through the night: “You’re damntootin‘ they won’t. Had you covered all the time, Atticus.”

  Mr. Underwood and a double-barreled shotgun were leaning out his window aboveThe Maycomb Tribune office.

  It was long past my bedtime and I was growing quite tired; it seemed that Atticus andMr. Underwood would talk for the rest of the night, Mr. Underwood out the window andAtticus up at him. Finally Atticus returned, switched off the light above the jail door, andpicked up his chair.

  “Can I carry it for you, Mr. Finch?” asked Dill. He had not said a word the whole time.

  “Why, thank you, son.”

  Walking toward the office, Dill and I fell into step behind Atticus and Jem. Dill wasencumbered by the chair, and his pace was slower. Atticus and Jem were well ahead ofus, and I assumed that Atticus was giving him hell for not going home, but I was wrong.

  As they passed under a streetlight, Atticus reached out and massaged Jem’s hair, hisone gesture of affection.

一个又一个电活打来,拼命替这个被告说情,加上他妈妈又写了封表示原谅的长信,这才决定迪尔可以不走。我们一起享受了一周的平静生活。好象没过多久,一场恶梦降临了。
这是从一天晚饭后开始的。迪尔已经来了,亚历山德拉姑妈坐在屋角的椅子上,阿迪克斯也坐在自己的椅子上,我和杰姆在地板上看书。这一周过得很平静:我听姑妈的话,杰姆长大了,再不爬到树上的屋里去玩,但是帮我们挂上了一条新的绳梯’迪尔想出了一个完全保险的计划,既可以把布?拉德利逗出来,而我们自己又不需要付出任何代价(即从后门到前院滴一溜柠檬水,他就会象蚂蚁那样跟着走)。有人敲了一下前门,杰姆开了门,通报说赫克?塔特先生来了。
“请他进来吧。”阿迪克斯说。
“早进来了。院子里还有几个人,他们想要你出去。”
梅科姆的大人只为两种事才会聚在前院里:死了人或与政治有关的事。我想不出是谁又死了。杰姆和我走到前门日,但是阿迪克斯喊了旬,“回屋里去。”
杰姆把客厅里所有的灯都关了,脸紧贴在纱窗上。亚历山德拉姑妈抱怨地问关灯干什么。“就这么一会儿,姑妈,让我们看看是谁。”杰姆说。
我和迪尔占了另一个窗子。一大帮人正围着阿迪克斯。他们好象在齐声说着什么。
“……明天要把他转到县监狱去,”这是塔特先生在说,“我并不是找什么麻烦,可是我不能保证不会有麻烦……”
“别傻了,赫克,”阿迪克斯说,“这是梅科姆。”
“……我说我放心不下。”
“赫克,我们推迟审理这个案子,为的就是耍保证不会有什么不放心的事。今天是星期六,”阿迪克斯说,“大概星期一就开庭,你再守他一个晚上不行吗?我想梅科姆不会有人在这不景气的时候使我丢掉一个当事人的。”
人堆里进发出一阵快活的笑声,但林克?迪斯先生一开口就止住了。“这里的人谁也不会怎么样,问题是那帮萨勒姆人叫我放心不下……你能不能换个……怎么说呢,赫克?”
“换个审判地点,”塔特先生说,“现在那样做没什么意义了,是不是?”
阿迪克斯说了几旬什么,我没听清楚,我转身向着杰姆,他挥手叫我别出声。
“……再洗,”阿迪克斯说,“你们都不害怕那伙人,对不对?”。
“……我知道他们灌醉了酒会干些什么。”
“他们星期天不大喝酒,大部分时间都上教堂做礼拜……”阿迪克斯说。
“不过,这回可是个特殊情况……”有人说。
嗡嗡的低沉的说话声一下停止了。忽然听见姑妈说,杰姆如果不把客厅的灯打开,就会给家里人丢脸。杰姆没听见她说的话。
“实在不能理解你为什么要插手此事,”林克?迪斯先生说,“在这件事上你会输得一干二净的,阿迪克斯。我说一干二净。”
“你真这样想吗?”
每当阿迪克斯这样问,就意味着要出事了。
“你真想往那儿走吗,斯各特?”叭、叭、叭”,跳棋盘上的棋子一下就会给扫个精光。“你真这样想吗,孩子?那好,读这本书去。”这一来,杰姆就得在晚上剩下的时间拼命读一读亨利-格雷迪的讲演词。
“林克,那孩子也许会被处死,但首先得把真相弄明白,”阿迪克斯的声音平稳沉着,“而你是明白事实真相的。”
人堆中传出低低的说话声。当阿迪克斯退到台阶最下一级,其他人向他靠得更近时,声音变得带有不样的征兆。
杰姆突然叫了起来:“阿迪克斯,电话铃在晌j”
这些人稍稍惊了一下便散开了,这是些每天都见得到的人:做生意的人,家在镇上的农民,还有雷纳兹医生,艾弗里先生也在里面。
“知道了,你接一下,孩子。”
人群在笑声中散开了。阿迪克斯进屋把头顶上的灯打开后,看见杰姆站在窗前,除了纱窗留在他鼻尖上的明显痕迹外,脸上一片苍白。
“你们为什么都这么坐在黑屋子里?”他问道。
杰姆望着他走到椅子前,抬起晚报来。我不时有这样的想法,阿迪克斯平时碰到危难,总要靠安静地品味报刊杂志来稳定情绪。他常读的报纸有《莫比尔纪事报》,《伯明翰新闻报》,还有《蒙哥马利广告报》。
“他们在捣你的鬼,是吗?”杰姆走到他跟前。“他们想整你,是不是?”
阿迪克斯放下报纸,眼睛盯着杰姆。“你在看些什么书?”他问。然后又柔声说,“不,孩子,那些人是我们的朋友。”
。他们不是……不是一伙坏蛋?”杰姆斜视着。
阿迪克斯想忍住不笑,但没忍住。“不,梅科姆没有一伙伙的坏蛋,没有那些乌七八糟的东西。我从没听说过梅科姆有什么坏蛋。”
“有一段时间三K党找过一些天主教徒的麻烦。”
“也从没听说过是梅科姆的天主教徒,”阿迪克斯说,“你把别的事和这混在一起了。大概在1920年,有过一个卡兰党,但那实际是一个政治团体,并非别的什么。另外,他们谁也吓唬不了。有一晚,他们在萨姆?莱维先生家门口结队游行,但是萨姆只站在门前走廊上,告诉他们他境况已经很糟,连被单都卖给他们了。萨姆使他们羞愧得走开了。”
无论从哪方面说,莱维家都符合“名门”的标准:他们能动脑筋把事情尽可能办好,在梅科姆的同一个地方住了整整五代。
“三K党早完了,”阿迪克斯说,“再不会有了。”
当晚,我和迪尔一道回家,恰恰偶然听见阿迪克斯对姑妈说:“……和任何人一样支持南部妇女,但不赞成牺牲人命来保存虚伪的传统观念。”听了这话,我怀疑他们又在吵嘴。
我去找杰姆,在他屋里找到了他。他坐在床上正想得出神。“他们又吵了吗?”我问。
“吵了一会。姑妈不让他管汤姆?鲁宾逊酌事。她几乎说阿迪克斯是在丢家族的脸。斯各特,我害怕。”
“怕什么?”
“为阿迪克斯害怕。也许有人会害他。”杰姆从不愿把自己的底亮出来。不管我再接着问什么,他只叫我走开,别打扰他。
第二天是星期天,主日学校的课上完了,礼拜还没开始,来做礼拜的人都在外面散步。我看见阿迪克斯同另外一群人站在院子里。赫克-塔特先生在人群中,我不知道他是不是醒悟过来了。他是从不做礼拜的。甚至安德伍德先生也在场。不管叫什么团体组织,对安德伍德先生都不起作用。他只经营他的Ⅸ梅科姆论坛报》。他一个人兼任报馆的老板、编辑。他的时间都消磨在排版机旁,只偶尔从旁边的一个能盛一加仑的罐子里喝点樱桃酒提提神,那罐子随时都在手边。他很少采访新闻,新闻都是人们给他进去的。据说每期报纸都是他先在脑子里想好,然后弄到排版机上写成文字。这点可以相信。连安德伍德先生也给拖了出来,肯定出了点什么事。
我在阿迪克斯进门时碰上了他。他说汤姆已被转到了梅科姆监狱。他又说——与其说是对我说,不如说是自言自语t“如果一开始就关进那地方,也就不会有什么可争议的了。”我看见他在前面第三排坐下,听见他在我们唱完一首赞美诗后,还在低沉地唱着:“愿与我主更亲近,”他从不和我们坐在一起,做礼拜的时候他总爱独自一个人坐。
这几个星期天只是表面上平平静静,亚历山德拉姑妈在这里更使人不快。阿迪克斯一吃过饭就溜到了事务所,如果我们去看他,会发现他靠在转椅上读着书。亚历山德拉姑妈每天总要睡上两小时午觉,还威胁我们不准在院子里闹出响声。邻居们也都在休息。年龄日益增长的杰姆也爱守着一堆橄榄球杂志缩在屋里。这样,我和迪尔便在迪尔牧场上转来转去,打发一个个星期天。
星期天禁止打枪,我和迪尔只好在草场上踢一阵杰姆的橄榄球,但这也不觉得好玩。迪尔问我愿不愿去刺探一下布?拉德利。我说我认为打搅他不好。然后在剩下的时间里给他大讲了一通冬天里发生的事情。.他听得相当出神。
我和迪尔在晚饭的时候分了手。吃过饭,杰姆和我象往常一样安定下来做些晚饭后的事,阿迪克斯却干了件使我们感到有趣的事情。他手拿一根很长的电线进了客厅,电线上有个灯泡。
“我要出去一会儿,”他说,“等我回来你们可能已经睡了,所以我现在就对你们说晚安了。”
他一边说一边戴上帽子从后面出去了。
“他是去开车。”杰姆说。
爸爸有几个怪癖:一是,饭后从不吃甜点心,另一个就是,他喜欢步行。从我能记事的时候起,车库里就有一辆切佛罗里德牌汽车,保养得极好,阿迪克斯开着它出差跑过好多公里,但在梅科姆,他每天从事务所到家步行两个来回,大约一共两英里路。他说他唯一的锻炼就是散步。在梅科姆,如果一个人脑子里没有明确目的地在外面走,那么相信他脑子里不可能有明确目的,那是准没错的。
过了一会儿,我向姑妈和哥哥道了晚安,捧着一本书正看得起劲,只听见杰姆在自已屋里弄得四处格格直响。他上床的声音我是熟悉的。我就去敲他的门。“你为什么还不睡觉?”
“我到镇上去一会儿。”他正换裤子。
“为什么?都快十点钟了,杰姆。”
他知道时间,但还是要去。
“那么,我和你一道去,要说一声不让,你自己也去不成,听到了吗?”
杰姆看得出来,要把我拦在家里就得打起来。我估计,他想到了要是打架一定会惹姑妈生气,所以才勉强答应了。
我很快就穿好了衣服。等姑妈屋里的灯熄了,我们悄悄走下了屋后的台阶。天上没有月亮。
。迪尔也会想去。”我压低了声音说。
“是的,他会想去。”杰姆不痛快地说。
我们翻过车道的墙,穿过雷切尔小姐的侧院,走到迪尔的窗前。杰姆学了声鹑鸟叫。迪尔的脸隔着窗子出现了一下又消失了。五分钟后他打开纱窗栓钻了出来。真是个老把式,他一直都没说话,到了人行道上才开口:“出了什么事?”
。杰姆变得好管闲事了。”卡尔珀尼亚说过,到这个年龄,男孩子都有这个毛病。
“我只是有这么一种感觉,”杰姆说,“只是一种感觉。”
我们走过了杜博斯太太住过的房子,房予的门窗紧闭,空荡荡地矗立在路旁,她种的山茶花周围长满了杂草。到邮局拐角那儿还有八户人家。
广场靠南的地方一片荒凉。各个角上都丛生着智利松树,树缝里一遭带刺钩的铁栏杆在街灯下闪着光。要不是公共厕所里亮着一盏灯,法院那边就会是黑乎乎的一片。广场四周全是店铺,把法院围在中间,从店铺里射出昏暗的灯光。
阿迪克斯最初开业的时候,他的事务所设在法院里,过了几年后,就搬进了梅科姆银行大楼,那儿安静一些。绕过广场角落,我们便看见他的汽车停在银行门口。“他在里面。”杰姆说。
可是他并不在里面。他的事务昕与一个长长的过厅相连,隔厅望去,映着门后的灯光本能看到一排不大但写得很认真的字:律师阿迪克斯?芬奇。可现在,里面看不到灯光。
为了证实一下,杰姆在银行门口仔细看了看,他叉扭了一下把手,发现门锁着。“咱们到街上去吧,他大概在安德伍德先生家。”
安德伍德先生不仅经营《梅科姆论坛报》,家也安在报馆里,确切地说是在报馆楼上。只要从楼上往窗外一看,便能得到法院和监狱里的新闻。报馆在广场西北角上,我们去那儿要打监狱门前经过。
梅科姆监狱在整个县的建筑中最古老而又最丑陋。阿迪克斯说它象是只有乔舒亚?圣克莱尔才可能设计得出来的。毫无疑问,这是什么人的一种异想天开的设计。它正好一间牢房宽,两间高,有着小小的墙垛和飞拱,象是用缩小的哥特式建筑形式开的一个玩笑,同这个充斥着方形门面的店铺和屋顶很尖的住宅的镇子很不协调。带有宗教色彩的窗口上横着密密的铁条,加上红砖的外壁,更使这个建筑显得荒诞不经。它不是建在一座孤独的山上,而是央在廷德尔五金店和《梅科姆论坛报》报馆的中间。人们闲聊时,常拿它作话题:反对者说它象维多利亚时代的厕所,支持它的人则说它使得镇子看起来极其文雅。但没有任何外人会怀疑里面关的尽是黑人。
我们走上人行遒,看见远处有一盏孤灯在闪烁。“奇怪,”杰姆说,“监狱外面没灯啊。”
“象是在门上边。”迪尔说。
一根长长的电线穿过二楼窗口的铁条,沿着墙壁垂下来,在没有灯罩的灯泡射出的光线里,阿迪克斯正靠着前门坐在那儿。他坐在他事务所的椅子里读着什么,毫不在意在头上乱飞乱撞的甲虫。
我要跑过去,杰姆抓住了我。“别过去,”他说,“他可能会不高兴的。他没出事,我们回家吧。我只不过想看看他到底在哪儿。”
我们正抄近路穿过广场,突然从通梅里迪安的公路上开来四辆满是尘土的汽车,成一条直线慢慢移动。汽车绕过广场,过了银行大楼,在监狱门前停了下来。
没人下车,我们看见阿迪克斯从报纸上抬起头,然后台上报纸,又从容地叠好,放在膝盖上。他把帽子推到了脑后,好象正等着那四辆汽车。
“跟我来。”杰姆小声说道。我们飞快跑过广场,又过了大街,一直跑到吉特尼?容格尔游艺室门口躲了起来。杰姆往路上看了看说:“还可以近点。”我们跑到了廷德尔五金店门口——够近了,而且也保险。
从车上陆续下来几个人。他们向监狱大门靠近,人影在灯光下越来越清晰。阿迪克斯在原地一动也没动。这些人的身子把他挡住,看不见他了。
“他在那儿吗,芬奇先生?”有个人说。
“在,”我们听到阿迪克斯回答,“而且睡着了,别惊醒他。”
这些人按照我爸爸的话行事,出现了这样的局面;他们果真凑到一块声音很轻地说着什么。我后来才明白,这是一个毫无喜剧意味的事件中滑稽得令人作呕的一幕。
“你知道我们想千什么,”另一个人说,“从门口走开吧,芬奇先生。”
“你还是向后转回家去吧,沃尔特,”阿迪克斯的话很客气,“赫克?塔特就在附近。”
“他根本不在附近,”又一个人说,“赫克一伙人在林子的深处,明天才出得来。”
“是吗,怎么回事?”
“叫他们去打沙雉鸟去了,”回答很简短,“你投有想到这点吗,芬奇先生?”
“想到了这点,但不相信。即使这样又怎样?”爸爸的声音没变,“这能把事态改变,是吗?”
。当然了。”另一个人用低沉的声音说道。说话的人看不清。
“你真是这样想吗?”
两天里我又一次听刘阿迪克斯这样问话。这就是说又有人该倒霉了。可不能错过机会。我挣脱杰姆,飞快地朝阿迪克斯跑去。
杰姆尖叫起来,想抓住我,但我跑在他和迪尔的前面。我从黑乎乎的、发出臭气的身躯中钻过去,一下子蹦到灯光圈里。
“嘿——阿追克斯!”
我以为他会喜出望外地吃一惊,不料他的脸色使我大为扫兴。他眼里掠过一缕明显的担心的眼光,接着看到迪尔和杰姆扭身挤进有光的地方,他又露出这种眼光来了。
周围有一股陈威士忌和猪圈的气味。我转身一看才发现,这些人都是陌生人,不是昨天夜里见到的那些人。我浑身发热,好生不自在;我竞神气活现地跳进了一圈我从未见过的生人中间。
阿迪克斯从椅子上站起来,但动作很慢,象个老头。他十分仔细地把报纸放下,又用迟缓的手指把折缝弄了弄。手指头在微微颤抖。
“回去,杰姆,”他说,“把斯各特和迪尔带回去。”
对阿迪克斯的命令,我们并不总是高高兴兴地接受,但已习惯了很快地照他说的办。可是这一回,从杰姆站的那样子看,他一点也没想着要动。
“我说,你们回去。”
杰姆摇摇头。阿迪克斯的双拳叉在腰上,杰姆也这个样儿。在他们面对面时,我在两个人之间看不到多少相似之处。杰姆柔软的褐色头发和眼睛,椭圆的脸形和紧贴在两侧的耳朵,是我妈妈的}跟阿迪克斯开始斑白的黑发、方正的面貌形成奇怪的对比。不过,他们又有点相象。两个人互不相t}的倔强劲儿看起来是一样的。
“孩子,我说过,你们回家去。”
杰姆摇摇头。
“我送他回去。”一个身体粗壮的人一边说,一边蛮横地抓住杰姆的领子,猛拉杰姆,差点把他拉倒了。
“不许动他。”我朝这个人一脚踢过去。我连鞋都没穿,却发现这人痛得朝后直退。我打算踢他的小腿,但起脚过高了点。
“够了,斯各特。”阿迪克斯把一只手放到我肩上。“不要踢人。不……”我正要申辩理由时,他又加了一句。
“谁也不许对杰姆那样。”我说。
“好啊,芬奇先生,叫他们离开这儿。”有人粗声说,“给你十五秒钟叫他们走开。”
在这群生人中间,阿迪克斯正设法叫杰姆听话。他先是威胁,后又要求,最后说:“杰姆,求求你把他们带回去。”对这些,杰姆的回答还是那个“我不走”。
我有点厌烦了,但一想到要是杰姆真的走了,不知会发生什么,就又觉得杰姆这样做自有他的道理。我又扫了一眼周围的人。那是一个夏夜,但这些人穿着齐整,大都穿着背带裤,斜纹棉布衬衫一直扣到脖子上。我想他们一定生来怕冷,因为他们都没卷袖子,还扣紧了袖口。有几个人的帽子直压到耳朵上。他们一个个面色阴沉,睡眼惺忪,似乎不习惯熬夜。我又一次想找出一张熟悉的面孔。最后,在围成半圆的人群中部总算看到了一张。
“嘿,坎宁安先生。”
这人好象没听见。
“嘿,坎宁安先生,您的限定继承权问题怎么样了?”
沃尔特?坎宁安先生的官司我很清楚,因为阿迪克斯作过详细的描述。这个大块头眨了眨眼睛,把两个大拇指抠进工作裤的背带里,显得有点不自在。他清了一下喉咙,把脸掉了过去。我主动的友好表示没受到理睬。
坎宁安先生没戴帽子,前额上部是白的,下面的脸给太阳晒黑了。这使我相信,他每天大都戴着帽子。他把两只脚挪了挪,脚上穿着笨重的工作靴。
“您不记得我了吗,坎宁安先生?我是琼?路易斯?芬奇。您有一回给我们带来过山核桃,还记得吗?”我开始体会到向偶然遇到的熟人打招呼时得不到反响的尴尬。‘
“毳和沃尔特一块儿上学,”我又开始说,“他是您的儿子,是不是?是不是,先生?”
坎宁安先生终于微微地点了点头,他到底还是认识我的。
“我和他在一个年级,”我说,“他挺好,是个好孩子,”我补上一旬,“是个真正的好孩子。有一回,我们把他带回家吃饭。他也许和您说过我,我揍过他一次,但是他一点也不生气。替我向他间好,好吗?”
阿迪克斯说过,要对人说他感兴趣的事而不说自己感兴趣的事,这样才有礼貌。坎宁安先生没有对儿子表示任何兴趣,于是,作为最后一招,我又向他说起限定继承权问题来了,想使他不感到拘谨。
“限定继承权问题还挺难办的呢。”我这么告诉他,却慢慢意识到自己正对所有的人在作讲演。这些人望着我,有些人半张着嘴;阿迪克斯早就不去碰杰姆了,他们伴着迪尔站在一起,大家注视着我,好象入了神。连阿迪克斯也把嘴半张着,他自己说过,这种表情又蠢又呆。我和他的目光碰到一起,他忙把嘴合上了。
“哦,阿迪克斯,我在对坎宁安先生说继承权问题挺难办那类事,不过您说过不用着急,有时这事耍花很多时间……你们会一道对付好的……”我慢慢地说完了话,不知道自己说了些什么蠢话。限定继承权似乎应该是客厅里的话题。
我开始感到头上淌汗,积聚到发脚边,什么事都好忍受,但就怕一大群入看着我,而这些人又这样的一言不发。
“怎么啦?”我问。
阿迪克斯没答话。我转过身,抬头又去看坎宁安先生,他的脸也同样没有什么表情。接着,出了件怪事,他蹭下来,一把抓住了我的双肩。
“我一定代你向他问好,小姐。”他说。
他直起身,大手一挥。“我们走开,”他大声说,“我们走吧,朋友们。”
和下车时一样,这些人又一个两个地挤进了摇摇晃晃的汽车。车门关上,发动机一阵轰鸣。然后,这些人走了。
我转身去找阿迪克斯,但是他已走到了监狱跟前,脸贴墙靠着。我过去扯了扯他的衣袖。“现在可以回家了吗?”他点点头,掏出手绢,满脸擦了一把,又使劲地擤鼻子。
“芬奇先生?”
黑暗中从头上方传出一个轻轻的沙哑的声音:“他们走了吗?”
阿迪克斯后退了几步,抬起头。“走了,”他说,“睡吧,汤姆。他们再不会来麻烦你了。”
从另一个方向,夜空里又传来一个清脆的声音。“别瞎吹,阿迪克斯。我一直在掩护着你。”
安德伍德先生和一枝双管猎枪从《梅科姆论坛报》报馆楼上韵窗口伸出来。
早过了我睡觉的时同,我十分困倦了。但阿迪克斯和安德伍德先生似乎要一直谈到天亮似的。安德伍德先生从窗口探出脑袋,阿迪克斯仰头对着他。最后,阿迪克斯终于转过身,关上监狱门口的电灯,拿起了椅子。
“我能帮您拿吗,芬奇先生?”迪尔问。这一段时间他一直没说话。
“啊,谢谢你,孩子。”
在去事务所的路上,我和迪尔掉在阿迪克斯和杰姆的后面。迪尔被椅子拖得脚步慢了下来。阿迪克斯和杰姆离我们相当远。我猜阿迪克斯一定因为杰姆投有回家在训他。但是我猜错了。他们走到路灯底下时,阿迪克斯伸出手抚摸杰姆的头发。他表示温情时就是这样。



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