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Chapter 16

      Jem heard me. He thrust his head around the connecting door. As he came to my bedAtticus’s light flashed on. We stayed where we were until it went off; we heard him turnover, and we waited until he was still again.

  Jem took me to his room and put me in bed beside him. “Try to go to sleep,” he said,“It’ll be all over after tomorrow, maybe.”

  We had come in quietly, so as not to wake Aunty. Atticus killed the engine in thedriveway and coasted to the carhouse; we went in the back door and to our roomswithout a word. I was very tired, and was drifting into sleep when the memory of Atticuscalmly folding his newspaper and pushing back his hat became Atticus standing in themiddle of an empty waiting street, pushing up his glasses. The full meaning of thenight’s events hit me and I began crying. Jem was awfully nice about it: for once hedidn’t remind me that people nearly nine years old didn’t do things like that.

  Everybody’s appetite was delicate this morning, except Jem’s: he ate his way throughthree eggs. Atticus watched in frank admiration; Aunt Alexandra sipped coffee andradiated waves of disapproval. Children who slipped out at night were a disgrace to thefamily. Atticus said he was right glad his disgraces had come along, but Aunty said,“Nonsense, Mr. Underwood was there all the time.”

  “You know, it’s a funny thing about Braxton,” said Atticus. “He despises Negroes,won’t have one near him.”

  Local opinion held Mr. Underwood to be an intense, profane little man, whose father ina fey fit of humor christened Braxton Bragg, a name Mr. Underwood had done his bestto live down. Atticus said naming people after Confederate generals made slow steadydrinkers.

  Calpurnia was serving Aunt Alexandra more coffee, and she shook her head at what Ithought was a pleading winning look. “You’re still too little,” she said. “I’ll tell you whenyou ain’t.” I said it might help my stomach. “All right,” she said, and got a cup from thesideboard. She poured one tablespoonful of coffee into it and filled the cup to the brimwith milk. I thanked her by sticking out my tongue at it, and looked up to catch Aunty’swarning frown. But she was frowning at Atticus.

  She waited until Calpurnia was in the kitchen, then she said, “Don’t talk like that infront of them.”

  “Talk like what in front of whom?” he asked.

  “Like that in front of Calpurnia. You said Braxton Underwood despises Negroes right infront of her.”

  “Well, I’m sure Cal knows it. Everybody in Maycomb knows it.”

  I was beginning to notice a subtle change in my father these days, that came out whenhe talked with Aunt Alexandra. It was a quiet digging in, never outright irritation. Therewas a faint starchiness in his voice when he said, “Anything fit to say at the table’s fit tosay in front of Calpurnia. She knows what she means to this family.”

  “I don’t think it’s a good habit, Atticus. It encourages them. You know how they talkamong themselves. Every thing that happens in this town’s out to the Quarters beforesundown.”

  My father put down his knife. “I don’t know of any law that says they can’t talk. Maybeif we didn’t give them so much to talk about they’d be quiet. Why don’t you drink yourcoffee, Scout?”

  I was playing in it with the spoon. “I thought Mr. Cunningham was a friend of ours. Youtold me a long time ago he was.”

  “He still is.”

  “But last night he wanted to hurt you.”

  Atticus placed his fork beside his knife and pushed his plate aside. “Mr. Cunningham’sbasically a good man,” he said, “he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us.”

  Jem spoke. “Don’t call that a blind spot. He’da killed you last night when he first wentthere.”

  “He might have hurt me a little,” Atticus conceded, “but son, you’ll understand folks alittle better when you’re older. A mob’s always made up of people, no matter what. Mr.

  Cunningham was part of a mob last night, but he was still a man. Every mob in everylittle Southern town is always made up of people you know—doesn’t say much for them,does it?”

  “I’ll say not,” said Jem.

  “So it took an eight-year-old child to bring ‘em to their senses, didn’t it?” said Atticus.

  “That proves something—that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply becausethey’re still human. Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children… you children lastnight made Walter Cunningham stand in my shoes for a minute. That was enough.”

  Well, I hoped Jem would understand folks a little better when he was older; I wouldn’t.

  “First day Walter comes back to school’ll be his last,” I affirmed.

  “You will not touch him,” Atticus said flatly. “I don’t want either of you bearing a grudgeabout this thing, no matter what happens.”

  “You see, don’t you,” said Aunt Alexandra, “what comes of things like this. Don’t say Ihaven’t told you.”

  Atticus said he’d never say that, pushed out his chair and got up. “There’s a dayahead, so excuse me. Jem, I don’t want you and Scout downtown today, please.”

  As Atticus departed, Dill came bounding down the hall into the diningroom. “It’s allover town this morning,” he announced, “all about how we held off a hundred folks withour bare hands…” Aunt Alexandra stared him to silence. “It was not a hundred folks,”

  she said, “and nobody held anybody off. It was just a nest of those Cunninghams, drunkand disorderly.”

  “Aw, Aunty, that’s just Dill’s way,” said Jem. He signaled us to follow him.

  “You all stay in the yard today,” she said, as we made our way to the front porch.

  It was like Saturday. People from the south end of the county passed our house in aleisurely but steady stream.

  Mr. Dolphus Raymond lurched by on his thoroughbred. “Don’t see how he stays in thesaddle,” murmured Jem. “How c’n you stand to get drunk ‘fore eight in the morning?”

  A wagonload of ladies rattled past us. They wore cotton sunbonnets and dresses withlong sleeves. A bearded man in a wool hat drove them. “Yonder’s some Mennonites,”

  Jem said to Dill. “They don’t have buttons.” They lived deep in the woods, did most oftheir trading across the river, and rarely came to Maycomb. Dill was interested. “They’veall got blue eyes,” Jem explained, “and the men can’t shave after they marry. Theirwives like for ‘em to tickle ’em with their beards.”

  Mr. X Billups rode by on a mule and waved to us. “He’s a funny man,” said Jem. “X’shis name, not his initial. He was in court one time and they asked him his name. He saidX Billups. Clerk asked him to spell it and he said X. Asked him again and he said X.

  They kept at it till he wrote X on a sheet of paper and held it up for everybody to see.

  They asked him where he got his name and he said that’s the way his folks signed himup when he was born.”

  As the county went by us, Jem gave Dill the histories and general attitudes of themore prominent figures: Mr. Tensaw Jones voted the straight Prohibition ticket; MissEmily Davis dipped snuff in private; Mr. Byron Waller could play the violin; Mr. JakeSlade was cutting his third set of teeth.

  A wagonload of unusually stern-faced citizens appeared. When they pointed to MissMaudie Atkinson’s yard, ablaze with summer flowers, Miss Maudie herself came out onthe porch. There was an odd thing about Miss Maudie—on her porch she was too faraway for us to see her features clearly, but we could always catch her mood by the wayshe stood. She was now standing arms akimbo, her shoulders drooping a little, her headcocked to one side, her glasses winking in the sunlight. We knew she wore a grin of theuttermost wickedness.

  The driver of the wagon slowed down his mules, and a shrill-voiced woman called out:

  “He that cometh in vanity departeth in darkness!”

  Miss Maudie answered: “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance!”

  I guess that the foot-washers thought that the Devil was quoting Scripture for his ownpurposes, as the driver speeded his mules. Why they objected to Miss Maudie’s yardwas a mystery, heightened in my mind because for someone who spent all the daylighthours outdoors, Miss Maudie’s command of Scripture was formidable.

  “You goin‘ to court this morning?” asked Jem. We had strolled over.

  “I am not,” she said. “I have no business with the court this morning.”

  “Aren’t you goin‘ down to watch?” asked Dill.

  “I am not. ‘t’s morbid, watching a poor devil on trial for his life. Look at all those folks,it’s like a Roman carnival.”

  “They hafta try him in public, Miss Maudie,” I said. “Wouldn’t be right if they didn’t.”

  “I’m quite aware of that,” she said. “Just because it’s public, I don’t have to go, do I?”

  Miss Stephanie Crawford came by. She wore a hat and gloves. “Um, um, um,” shesaid. “Look at all those folks—you’d think William Jennings Bryan was speakin‘.”

  “And where are you going, Stephanie?” inquired Miss Maudie.

  “To the Jitney Jungle.”

  Miss Maudie said she’d never seen Miss Stephanie go to the Jitney Jungle in a hat inher life.

  “Well,” said Miss Stephanie, “I thought I might just look in at the courthouse, to seewhat Atticus’s up to.”

  “Better be careful he doesn’t hand you a subpoena.”

  We asked Miss Maudie to elucidate: she said Miss Stephanie seemed to know somuch about the case she might as well be called on to testify.

  We held off until noon, when Atticus came home to dinner and said they’d spent themorning picking the jury. After dinner, we stopped by for Dill and went to town.

  It was a gala occasion. There was no room at the public hitching rail for anotheranimal, mules and wagons were parked under every available tree. The courthousesquare was covered with picnic parties sitting on newspapers, washing down biscuit andsyrup with warm milk from fruit jars. Some people were gnawing on cold chicken andcold fried pork chops. The more affluent chased their food with drugstore Coca-Cola inbulb-shaped soda glasses. Greasy-faced children popped-the-whip through the crowd,and babies lunched at their mothers’ breasts.

  In a far corner of the square, the Negroes sat quietly in the sun, dining on sardines,crackers, and the more vivid flavors of Nehi Cola. Mr. Dolphus Raymond sat with them.

  “Jem,” said Dill, “he’s drinkin‘ out of a sack.”

  Mr. Dolphus Raymond seemed to be so doing: two yellow drugstore straws ran fromhis mouth to the depths of a brown paper bag.

  “Ain’t ever seen anybody do that,” murmured Dill.

  “How does he keep what’s in it in it?”

  Jem giggled. “He’s got a Co-Cola bottle full of whiskey in there. That’s so’s not toupset the ladies. You’ll see him sip it all afternoon, he’ll step out for a while and fill itback up.”

  “Why’s he sittin‘ with the colored folks?”

  “Always does. He likes ‘em better’n he likes us, I reckon. Lives by himself way downnear the county line. He’s got a colored woman and all sorts of mixed chillun. Show yousome of ’em if we see ‘em.”

  “He doesn’t look like trash,” said Dill.

  “He’s not, he owns all one side of the riverbank down there, and he’s from a real oldfamily to boot.”

  “Then why does he do like that?”

  “That’s just his way,” said Jem. “They say he never got over his weddin‘. He wassupposed to marry one of the—the Spencer ladies, I think. They were gonna have ahuge weddin’, but they didn’t—after the rehearsal the bride went upstairs and blew herhead off. Shotgun. She pulled the trigger with her toes.”

  “Did they ever know why?”

  “No,” said Jem, “nobody ever knew quite why but Mr. Dolphus. They said it wasbecause she found out about his colored woman, he reckoned he could keep her andget married too. He’s been sorta drunk ever since. You know, though, he’s real good tothose chillun—”

  “Jem,” I asked, “what’s a mixed child?”

  “Half white, half colored. You’ve seen ‘em, Scout. You know that red-kinky-headedone that delivers for the drugstore. He’s half white. They’re real sad.”

  “Sad, how come?”

  “They don’t belong anywhere. Colored folks won’t have ‘em because they’re halfwhite; white folks won’t have ’em cause they’re colored, so they’re just in-betweens,don’t belong anywhere. But Mr. Dolphus, now, they say he’s shipped two of his up north.

  They don’t mind ‘em up north. Yonder’s one of ’em.”

  A small boy clutching a Negro woman’s hand walked toward us. He looked all Negroto me: he was rich chocolate with flaring nostrils and beautiful teeth. Sometimes hewould skip happily, and the Negro woman tugged his hand to make him stop.

  Jem waited until they passed us. “That’s one of the little ones,” he said.

  “How can you tell?” asked Dill. “He looked black to me.”

  “You can’t sometimes, not unless you know who they are. But he’s half Raymond, allright.”

  “But how can you tell?” I asked.

  “I told you, Scout, you just hafta know who they are.”

  “Well how do you know we ain’t Negroes?”

  “Uncle Jack Finch says we really don’t know. He says as far as he can trace back theFinches we ain’t, but for all he knows we mighta come straight out of Ethiopia durin‘ theOld Testament.”

  “Well if we came out durin‘ the Old Testament it’s too long ago to matter.”

  “That’s what I thought,” said Jem, “but around here once you have a drop of Negroblood, that makes you all black. Hey, look—”

  Some invisible signal had made the lunchers on the square rise and scatter bits ofnewspaper, cellophane, and wrapping paper. Children came to mothers, babies werecradled on hips as men in sweat-stained hats collected their families and herded themthrough the courthouse doors. In the far corner of the square the Negroes and Mr.

  Dolphus Raymond stood up and dusted their breeches. There were few women andchildren among them, which seemed to dispel the holiday mood. They waited patientlyat the doors behind the white families.

  “Let’s go in,” said Dill.

  “Naw, we better wait till they get in, Atticus might not like it if he sees us,” said Jem.

  The Maycomb County courthouse was faintly reminiscent of Arlington in one respect:

  the concrete pillars supporting its south roof were too heavy for their light burden. Thepillars were all that remained standing when the original courthouse burned in 1856.

  Another courthouse was built around them. It is better to say, built in spite of them. Butfor the south porch, the Maycomb County courthouse was early Victorian, presenting anunoffensive vista when seen from the north. From the other side, however, Greek revivalcolumns clashed with a big nineteenth-century clock tower housing a rusty unreliableinstrument, a view indicating a people determined to preserve every physical scrap ofthe past.

  To reach the courtroom, on the second floor, one passed sundry sunless countycubbyholes: the tax assessor, the tax collector, the county clerk, the county solicitor, thecircuit clerk, the judge of probate lived in cool dim hutches that smelled of decayingrecord books mingled with old damp cement and stale urine. It was necessary to turn onthe lights in the daytime; there was always a film of dust on the rough floorboards. Theinhabitants of these offices were creatures of their environment: little gray-faced men,they seemed untouched by wind or sun.

  We knew there was a crowd, but we had not bargained for the multitudes in the first-floor hallway. I got separated from Jem and Dill, but made my way toward the wall bythe stairwell, knowing Jem would come for me eventually. I found myself in the middle ofthe Idlers’ Club and made myself as unobtrusive as possible. This was a group of white-shirted, khaki-trousered, suspendered old men who had spent their lives doing nothingand passed their twilight days doing same on pine benches under the live oaks on thesquare. Attentive critics of courthouse business, Atticus said they knew as much law asthe Chief Justice, from long years of observation. Normally, they were the court’s onlyspectators, and today they seemed resentful of the interruption of their comfortableroutine. When they spoke, their voices sounded casually important. The conversationwas about my father.

  “…thinks he knows what he’s doing,” one said.

  “Oh-h now, I wouldn’t say that,” said another. “Atticus Finch’s a deep reader, a mightydeep reader.”

  “He reads all right, that’s all he does.” The club snickered.

  “Lemme tell you somethin‘ now, Billy,” a third said, “you know the court appointed himto defend this nigger.”

  “Yeah, but Atticus aims to defend him. That’s what I don’t like about it.”

  This was news, news that put a different light on things: Atticus had to, whether hewanted to or not. I thought it odd that he hadn’t said anything to us about it—we couldhave used it many times in defending him and ourselves. He had to, that’s why he wasdoing it, equaled fewer fights and less fussing. But did that explain the town’s attitude?

  The court appointed Atticus to defend him. Atticus aimed to defend him. That’s whatthey didn’t like about it. It was confusing.

  The Negroes, having waited for the white people to go upstairs, began to come in.

  “Whoa now, just a minute,” said a club member, holding up his walking stick. “Just don’tstart up them there stairs yet awhile.”

  The club began its stiff-jointed climb and ran into Dill and Jem on their way downlooking for me. They squeezed past and Jem called, “Scout, come on, there ain’t a seatleft. We’ll hafta stand up.”

  “Looka there, now.” he said irritably, as the black people surged upstairs. The old menahead of them would take most of the standing room. We were out of luck and it was myfault, Jem informed me. We stood miserably by the wall.

  “Can’t you all get in?”

  Reverend Sykes was looking down at us, black hat in hand.

  “Hey, Reverend,” said Jem. “Naw, Scout here messed us up.”

  “Well, let’s see what we can do.”

  Reverend Sykes edged his way upstairs. In a few moments he was back. “There’s nota seat downstairs. Do you all reckon it’ll be all right if you all came to the balcony withme?”

  “Gosh yes,” said Jem. Happily, we sped ahead of Reverend Sykes to the courtroomfloor. There, we went up a covered staircase and waited at the door. Reverend Sykescame puffing behind us, and steered us gently through the black people in the balcony.

  Four Negroes rose and gave us their front-row seats.

  The Colored balcony ran along three walls of the courtroom like a second-storyveranda, and from it we could see everything.

  The jury sat to the left, under long windows. Sunburned, lanky, they seemed to be allfarmers, but this was natural: townfolk rarely sat on juries, they were either struck orexcused. One or two of the jury looked vaguely like dressed-up Cunninghams. At thisstage they sat straight and alert.

  The circuit solicitor and another man, Atticus and Tom Robinson sat at tables withtheir backs to us. There was a brown book and some yellow tablets on the solicitor’stable; Atticus’s was bare. Just inside the railing that divided the spectators from thecourt, the witnesses sat on cowhide-bottomed chairs. Their backs were to us.

  Judge Taylor was on the bench, looking like a sleepy old shark, his pilot fish writingrapidly below in front of him. Judge Taylor looked like most judges I had ever seen:

  amiable, white-haired, slightly ruddy-faced, he was a man who ran his court with analarming informality—he sometimes propped his feet up, he often cleaned his fingernailswith his pocket knife. In long equity hearings, especially after dinner, he gave theimpression of dozing, an impression dispelled forever when a lawyer once deliberatelypushed a pile of books to the floor in a desperate effort to wake him up. Without openinghis eyes, Judge Taylor murmured, “Mr. Whitley, do that again and it’ll cost you onehundred dollars.”

  He was a man learned in the law, and although he seemed to take his job casually, inreality he kept a firm grip on any proceedings that came before him. Only once wasJudge Taylor ever seen at a dead standstill in open court, and the Cunninghamsstopped him. Old Sarum, their stamping grounds, was populated by two familiesseparate and apart in the beginning, but unfortunately bearing the same name. TheCunninghams married the Coninghams until the spelling of the names was academic—academic until a Cunningham disputed a Coningham over land titles and took to thelaw. During a controversy of this character, Jeems Cunningham testified that his motherspelled it Cunningham on deeds and things, but she was really a Coningham, she wasan uncertain speller, a seldom reader, and was given to looking far away sometimeswhen she sat on the front gallery in the evening. After nine hours of listening to theeccentricities of Old Sarum’s inhabitants, Judge Taylor threw the case out of court.

  When asked upon what grounds, Judge Taylor said, “Champertous connivance,” anddeclared he hoped to God the litigants were satisfied by each having had their publicsay. They were. That was all they had wanted in the first place.

  Judge Taylor had one interesting habit. He permitted smoking in his courtroom but didnot himself indulge: sometimes, if one was lucky, one had the privilege of watching himput a long dry cigar into his mouth and munch it slowly up. Bit by bit the dead cigarwould disappear, to reappear some hours later as a flat slick mess, its essenceextracted and mingling with Judge Taylor’s digestive juices. I once asked Atticus howMrs. Taylor stood to kiss him, but Atticus said they didn’t kiss much.

  The witness stand was to the right of Judge Taylor, and when we got to our seats Mr.

  Heck Tate was already on it.

杰姆听见我的声音,把头从门口伸过来。他走刭我床前的时候,阿迪克斯屋里的灯忽然亮了。我们没有动弹,直到他的灯熄了为止。我们听见他翻了个身。我们一直等到他又安静下来。
杰姆把我带到他屋里,让我躺在他旁边,“想办法睡着,”他说,“也许一过明天就没事了。”
我们静悄悄地走进屋予,以免吵醒姑妈。阿迪克斯在车道上便熄了火,靠惯性把车滑进车库。我们从后门进屋,然后进了各自的卧室,一直没出声。我累得厉害,正慢慢进入梦乡,一时梦见阿迪克斯镇定地叠着报纸,把帽子推到脑后,一时又梦见他在空旷、冷清的大街上把眼镜向上推。我突然明白了今天夜里究竟发生了什么事情,哭了起来。杰姆这回特别宽窖,头一次没有提醒我快九岁的人是不该哭鼻子的。
第二天早上,每个人都不太想吃饭,只有杰姆的胃口特别好:他一连吃了三个鸡蛋。阿迪克斯羡慕地望着他。亚历山德拉姑妈一边呷咖啡,一边流嚣出强烈的不赞同的表情,小孩子半夜里滔出门是给家里丢脸。阿迪克斯说这次的脸丢得他高兴。姑妈却说:“废话,安德伍德先生一直在那儿。”
“你知道,布拉克斯顿真怪,”阿迪克斯说,“他从不让一个黑人靠近他。”
当地人将安德伍德先生看成一个易动感情、亵渎神灵的小人物。他爸爸幽默地把他的敦名定为布雷格,安德伍德先生尽了最大的力量想叫人们忘掉这个名字。阿迪克斯说,给人取南北战争中南部联邦将军的名字,会把这个人慢慢变成老是喝酒的人。
卡尔珀尼亚在给亚历山德拉姑妈斟咖啡。我显出一副逗人爱的恳求的脸色向她要咖啡,她却摇了摇头。“你还太小,”她说,“你什么时候长成大人了,我会告诉你。”我说这能开我的胃口。“好吧,”她说着,从餐具柜里取出一个杯子,倒出一汤匙咖啡。然后倒了一满杯牛奶。我把舌头一吐表示谢意。一抬眼正看到姑妈皱着眉头象是在发警告。但她是在对阿迪克斯皱眉。
她一直等卡尔珀尼亚进了厨房,然后才说:“别在他们跟前那么说话。”
“在谁面前说什么话?”他问。
“象在卡尔珀尼亚面前那样。你刚才就在她跟前说布拉克斯顿?安德伍德瞧不起黑人。”
“哦,我肯定她是知道这点的。在梅科姆谁都知道。”
我已开始注意到爸爸这几天的微妙变化。这一点在他和亚厉山德拉姑妈说话时就看得出来。他的话是一种平静的自卫,从来不直截了当地顶她。他说话的声音带一些掏谨,他说:。不管什么话,能在饭桌上说,就能在卡尔珀尼亚跟前说。她明白她在这个家里是什么样的人。”
。我认为这不是个好习惯,阿迪克斯。这是鼓动他们。你知道在他们中间会怎么说。镇上出的每一件事,不等天黑就会传到了黑人区。”
爸爸放下刀子。“我不知道有任何法律规定不许他们讲活。大概,要是不给他们这么多话把儿,那他们也就安静了。为什么不喝你的咖啡,斯各特?”’
我正用匙子在杯里搅着玩。“我原来以为坎宁安先生是我们的朋友。你很久以前对我说过。”
“他现在还是。”
“可是昨晚上他想伤害你。”
阿迪克斯又把叉放在刀子旁,把盘子推到一边。“坎宁安先生基本上是个好人,”他说,“他只是对我们这些人有偏见。”
杰姆说话了:“别把那叫做有偏见,他昨晚上刚到那会儿,本想把你杀了的。”
“他也许想害我一下,”阿迪克斯终于勉强承认了这一点,“不过,孩子,你再长大一点,就会更了解人一些。一伙暴终总是人组成的,不管什么人。坎宁安先生昨天是一伙暴徒中的一个,但他还是一个人。你知道每个南方小镇上的任何一伙暴徒都是人组成的。这不是恭维他们吧?”
“我说这不是。”杰姆说。
“一个八岁的孩子能使他们清醒过来,对不对?”阿迪克斯说,“这便说明了一个道理——一群野兽有时也能被制服,就只因为他们毕竟还是人。晤,也许我们需要一支娃娃警察队……你们这些弦子昨晚上让沃尔特?坎宁安设身处地为驼考虑了一下,这就行了。”
是的,我希望杰姆再长大一点.能更了解人,我可不愿。“沃尔特回学校的头一天就将是他呆在学校的最后一天。”我声明说。
“不许你碰他,”阿迪克斯说得很干脆。“不管出了什么事,你们俩谁也不许记旧仇。”
“你看到了吧,”亚历山德拉姑妈说,“看到这类事情的原因是什么了吧。别说我没早告诉你。”
阿迪克斯说他绝不会说这种话,他推开椅子站起身来。“还有一天的事要干,该走了。杰姆,我今天不想让你和斯各特副镇上去,我请求你们。”
阿迪克斯走了。迪尔来了,从过厅一路蹦跳着进了餐厅。“整个镇子都知道了,”他高声宣布,“都知道我们赤手空拳挡住了一百个人……”
亚历山德拉姑妈用眼瞪他,他不吱声了。。不是什么一百个人,”她说,“而且也没谁挡住了谁。只不过是那一窝坎宁安宗族的人喝醉了胡来。”
“哦,姑妈,迪尔说话就是那样。”杰姆说着,打了个手势,叫我们跟他走。
“你们今天都不许出院子。”我们走到前面走廊时,姑妈说道。
外面好象在过礼拜六。县南头的人从我家门前悠闲地、络绎不绝地涌过。
多尔佛斯?雷蒙德先生骑着他的纯种马晃晃悠悠地过去了。“真不明白他在鞍子上怎么坐得稳,”杰姆小声说了旬,。上午八点钟以前就喝醉了,怎么受得了?”
一辆大车装着一群妇女从我们面前吱吱呀呀地过去。她们头戴棉布阔边遮阳帽,身着袖子很长的外衣。一个留着胡子戴着一顶呢帽子的人在赶车。“那是些孟诺派教徒,”杰姆对迪尔说,“她们的衣服上没有纽扣。”这些人住在森林深处,一般都过河做生意,很少到梅科姆来。迪尔感到很有趣。“他们全是蓝眼睛,”杰姆解释说,“而且男人结婚后就不能刮胡子。他们的妻子喜欢让他们用胡子逗她们。”
X-比卢普斯先生骑着骡子过来,对我们招招手。?他很滑稽,”杰姆说,“X这个字母就是他的名字,不是他的名字的起首字母。有一回在法庭上,别人问他叫什么名字,他说X?比卢普斯。法庭书记口q他拼出来,他说了声X,又问他,他又说X。一直问到他把这个字母写到纸上,还举起来叫每个人都看到。人家问他在哪儿取的这个名字,他说他一生下来人们就是这样替他进行出生登记的。”
在这些人走过去的时候,杰姆向迪尔介绍其中一些知名人士的情况和大伙对这些人的看法。坦索先生投票拥护彻底禁酒,埃米莉-戴维斯小姐偷偷吸鼻烟;拜伦?沃勒先生会拉小提琴;杰克?斯莱德先生在出第三回牙。
出现了一车板着脸的人。他们对莫迪?阿特金森小姐的院子指指点点。夏天开放的花把满院映得通红。正在这时,莫迪小姐走到了走廊上。
关于莫迪小姐还有件怪事一一她远近站在走廊上时,我们无法把她的一切都看清,但是只看她站的姿势我们就能说出她的情绪是好还是坏。她现在双手叉腰,肩膀稍稍佝偻着,向一边歪着头,眼镜在太阳光里闪亮。我们知道,她准是咧着嘴露出恶意的笑容。
赶车的让骡子放慢脚步,一个采嗓门曲女人喊道:“人若虚荣下场歹。”
莫迪小姐回答:“心中轻快脸生彩。”
我想,礼拜前行洗脚礼的教徒认为魔鬼在为自己的目的而援目』《圣经》。赶车的又把车赶快了。他们为什么看不惯莫迪小姐的院子,这一直是个谜。就一个在房里呆不住、整天在户外的人来说,她对《圣经》的掌握是好得出奇的。因此这个谜在我头脑里更神秘了。
我们都走了过去。
杰姆问:“您今天上午去听审判吗?”
。不去,”莫迪小姐说,“我今天上午跟这法院无关。”
。您不想去看看吗?”迪尔问她。
“不去,看着一个可怜虫接受要置他于死地的审判,太可怕了。瞧那些人,好象在罗马过狂欢节似的。”
“莫迪小姐,一定要公开审判他才行,”我说,“不这样是不对的。”
“我很清楚这点,”她说,“正因为是公开的,我才没有必要去,是不是?”
斯蒂芬尼小姐打一旁走过,帽子和手套都戴上了。。晤,唔,晤,”她说,“瞧这些人吧,你会以为喊廉?詹宁斯?布赖恩要发表演说了呢。。
“那你自己又是上哪儿?”莫迪小姐问。
“上容格尔游艺室。”
莫迪小姐说她这一辈子还从没见过斯蒂芬尼小姐戴着帽子到容格尔游艺室去过。
“晤,我想我也可以去法院看看阿迪克斯干的什么勾当。”
“最好小心点,别让他给你也递过来一张传票。”
我们请莫迫小姐说清楚点。她说斯蒂芬尼小姐好象对这事知道得很多,可能也会把她叫到法庭作证。
我们一直等到中午。阿迪克斯回家吃饭时说,他们花了一个上午选出陪审团。吃过饭,我们找到迪尔,便来到镇上。
镇上跟过节一样热闹。公共畜栏里连再多放一头牲口的地方都没有了。所有的树,只要能用得上,下面都停着太车和骠子。法庭广场上到处都是吃野餐的人。人们垫着报纸坐在地上,从果汁罐里例出热牛奶把软饼和果汁送下肚子。有的人在嚼着冷鸡肉和冷的炸猪排。稍富裕点的人还有可口可乐,装在灯泡形的苏打玻璃杯里。满脸邋遢的孩子一路玩甩鞭子的游戏,在人群里穿来穿去,婴儿在妈妈怀里吃奶。
广场远处的一个角落里,黑人在太阳下安静地坐着,吃着沙丁鱼、饼干和尼海可乐当中餐。多尔佛斯?雷蒙德先生也和他们坐在一起。
“杰姆,”迪尔说,“他从一个袋子里喝东西。”
多尔佛斯先生好象真在从一个袋子里喝东西,两根黄色的麦秆吸管从他的嘴里通到他手中的…一只褐色的纸袋里。
。从没见过有谁那么干,”迪尔小声说,“那里头的东西怎么不漏出来?”
杰姆格格地笑了起来。“那里头装着一个满是威士忌的可口可乐瓶予,免得那些太太们抱怨。你会看见他吸上一个下午,过不久就要走出去把瓶子灌满。”
“他为什么和黑人坐在一起?”
“从来就这样。我想他喜欢他们胜过喜欢咱们。他一个人靠镇边住着,家里有一个黑女人,还有不步棍血孩子。等碰上几个时我指给你看看吧。”
“他不象是个低贱的白人。”迪尔说。
“对,那边沿河的土地全属于他,而且,他出身子一个地道的世家。”
“那么他为什么要那样呢?”’“他就那样,”杰姆说。“人们说他没能从婚礼上发生的事情中恢复过来。他原来要跟一个……一个我想是斯彭德家的小姐结婚,还准备举行一个很盛大的婚礼,但后来没办成——婚礼试排后,那新娘副楼上,把自己的脑袋打开了花。猎枪打的。她用脚趾头扣的扳机。”
“知道到底是怎么回事吗?”
“不知道,”杰姆说,“谁也不知道究竟是怎么回事,只有多尔佛斯先生自己明白。别人说是因为这小姐知道了那黑女人的事。他认为他可以留着那黑女人又跟这自人小姐结婚。从那以后,他就一直有点儿醉意。不过你要知道,他待那些孩子一直都很好。”
“杰姆,”我问,“什么叫混血儿?”
“一半自,一半黑。你见过这种人,斯各特。给杂货店送货的,头上卷着红头发的那个就是。他一半是白人。这种人真可怜。”
“可怜,为什么?”
“他们什么人也不算。黑人不要他们,因为他们一半是自人,白人也不要他们,因为他们是黑人。他们夹在中问,哪头都挨不上。但是,听说多尔佛斯先生已经用船把两个孩子送到北边去了。北边的人待这种人不坏。瞧,那边就有一个。”
一个小男孩抓着一个黑人妇女的手朝我们走来。据我看,他完全是个黑人t皮肤是浓巧克力色,长着向外张开的鼻孔和很漂亮的牙齿。他不时快活地蹦上几步,但那黑人妇女拉一拉他的手叫他停下来。
杰姆等他们走了过去,说:“这就是其中的一个。’
“你怎么能看得出来?”迪尔问他,“我看他全是黑的。”
“有时看不出}如果不知道他们是谁家的,那是看不出的。不过,他一半是雷蒙德的孩子,错不了。”
“但是你到底是怎么看出来的?”我又问。
“我早告诉了你,斯各特,你要知道他们是谁才行。”
。那么你又凭什么说我们不是黑人呢?”
。杰克?芬奇叔叔说我们很难说不是。他说从他记得的芬奇家族的历史看,我们不是。不过我们家也可能是在旧约圣经时期从非洲的埃塞俄比亚来的。。
“要是在旧约圣经时期来的,时间就很久远了,这不能算一回事了。”
“我也这样看,”杰姆说.“但在这儿,只要你身上有一滴黑人的血,就算是完全的黑人了。嘿,瞧……。
仿佛有一个无形的信号使得广场上正吃午饭的人全站起来,纷纷把报纸、玻璃纸和包装纸从手上扔下。孩子在找妈妈,婴儿给从屁股上托起抱着。这时,男人们头戴给汗湿透了的帽子,正招挽全家的人往法院门里带。广场远处的一角,黑人和多尔佛斯?雷蒙德先生也站了起来,拍打着裤子上的尘土。他们中间几乎没有妇女和孩子,因而似乎少了点度假的气氛。他们在门口耐心地等在一家家白人后面。
“咱们进去吧,”迪尔说。
“不,最好等他们先进去,如果阿迪克斯看见了我们,他也许会不高兴的,”杰姆说。
梅科姆法院的建筑,在某个方面使人多少联想到阿灵顿地区的建筑:南端屋顶不重,因此支撑它的水泥柱子就显得太粗笨了。原来的法院在1856年被火烧了以后,只剩下了这些柱子。围绕这些柱子又重修了法院。更确切些说,是撇开它们修的。要不是南面的走廊,梅科姆县法院便属于早期维多利亚风格的建筑。站在北面看去,眼里是一片悦目的景象。从另一边看就不同了t一排古希腊式酌大柱子和一个巨大的十九世纪的钟楼很不协调,钟楼里有一日生了锈的报时不准的钟,这叫人想起一个决心要把每一件古物保留下来的民族。
到审封厅,要经过=楼好几个不同类别的办公室。那些房间小得象鸽子笼一样,又见不到阳光。估税官、收税官、县书记官、县法务官、巡回录事、遗嘱法官等等,都生活在这些阴冷昏暗的小房洞里,里头一股陈腐的文件昧,跟年代很久的潮湿的永门汀和陈尿的气味混在一起。白天也得开灯,粗糙不平的地板上终年覆盖着一层灰。这些办公事的人是这种环境的产物;他们身材矮小,面色灰白,似乎没有吹过风,也没有晒过太阳,
我们早就想到了会有不少人,可没想到在一楼通大厅的过道上会有这么多的人。我跟杰姆和迪尔给冲散了,但我仍然一直朝楼梯井方向挤过去,因为我知道杰姆最终会来找我。我发现自己到了“闲人俱乐部”那伙人中间,便尽量地让自己不引人注目。这是一伙穿着白衬衣、咔叽裤,用吊袜带的上了年纪的人。他们一辈子什么也没干,到了暮年,还是终日坐在广场的橡树底下的松木条凳上无所事事。阿迪克斯说他们由于留心法院事务,长年观察,所以和首席法官一样精通法律。在一般情况下,他们是法院唯一的旁听者。今天,他们安逸的旁听受到干扰,显得很扫兴。他们在说着什么,装腔作势曲,但又故意显得漫不经心。他们谈的是我爸爸。
“……自认为他知道自己是在干什么事。”一个人说道。
“啊,啊,我可不那么说,”另一个在讲,“阿迪克斯是个钻研书本的人,钻得很深。”
“他书倒是读的,但也不过如此而已。”好几个人一齐偷偷笑了起来。
“我来告诉你一件事,比利,”第三个人说。“你知道吗?法院指派他为这黑鬼辩护。”
“知道,不过阿迪克斯却想帮他打赢这场官司,我对这点就是不喜欢。”
这可真是新闻,是对事实可以作出不同解释的新闻。阿迪克斯只能这样做,不管他愿意不愿意。使我奇怪的是,他一点也没对我们说过这事。他要是说了,我们就能在许多场合用这点为他和我们自己辩护。他不能不这样做,这就是为什么他在这样做,既然不能不这样做,那就可以免除许多争吵和许多议论了。但是,这能代表镇上人的看法吗?法院指派他为辩护律师,他想把官司打赢,而这点又正是他们不喜欢他的地方。这真使我们弄不明白。
等到白人都上了楼以后,黑人才开始往里边走。“喂,喂,慢一点,”俱乐部韵一个成员说着,一边举起手杖。“别一下全挤上去,等会儿。”
这些人关节僵硬地往上爬,正碰到迪尔和杰姆下楼来找我。他们从人群中挤过来,杰姆喊着,“斯各特,赶快,没有坐位了。我们只好站着了。”
“看,这下多糟,”杰姆不高兴地说。这时黑人正往上涌。杰姆还说,走在前头的几个老先生会把能站的地方也占得差不多的。我们倒了霉,而这全得怪我。我们靠墙站着,很不舒服。
“你们能挤进来吗?”
赛克斯牧师从上往下看着我们,黑帽子拿在手中。
“您好,牧师,”杰姆说,“瞧,斯备特把我们弄得多倒霉。”
“这样吧,我去看看能不能想点办法。”
赛克斯牧师挤上楼,不多久又回来了。“楼下没一个空位。看这样行不行,跟我一起到楼厅看台上去。”
“那当然好,”杰姆说。我们兴冲冲地走在牧师前面,到了审判厅,接着上了一道有顶盖的楼梯,在一个门口等了一会。赛克斯牧师气喘吁吁地来到我们身后,他小心地领我们穿过楼厅看台上的黑人。有四个人站起来,把他们在前排的位子让给了我们。
这专给黑人的楼厅看台环绕在审判厅的三面墙上,就象=楼上的走廊。从这里看下去,什么都在我们眼里。
陪审团靠左坐着,头上是一排高大的窗子。这些人皮肤晒得很黑。个子瘦长,看上去都是农民。不过这没有什么奇怪的:镇里的人很少坐在陪审席上的,他们要么名字被删去,要么便自己找借口不出席。陪审团里有一两个人有点儿象是打扮了一番的坎宁安家族里的人。此刻,他们正警觉地、笔挺地坐着。
巡回法务官和另一个人,阿迪克斯和汤姆?鲁宾逊,分别背对我们坐在桌子前。巡回法务官的桌子上有一本褐色封皮的书和几本黄色便条簿,阿迪克斯的桌上什么也没有。
一道栏杆隔开了旁听者,栏杆里证人坐在牛皮椅上,背朝我们。
泰勒法官坐在审判席上,象是一条在打磕睡的老鲨鱼,他前面是条跟鲨鱼同游的舟鲡,在下边飞快地写着什么。泰勒法官看上去同我见过的大多数法官一样,亲切和蔼,头发灰白,面色微红。他审判时随便得惊人——他有时抬起两脚,用小刀剔干净指甲缝。在冗长的听审中,他给人留下在打盹的假象,特别是吃过饭以后。有一次,一个律师故意将桌子上的一堆书推下地板来惊醒他。泰勒法官连眼皮也没抬,低沉地说:“惠特刺先生,你要再那样千,就罚你一百美元。”这以后,谁也不上这种假象的当了。他精通法律,尽管审判时显得漫不经心,但实际上对手中的任何事件都抓得很紧。只有那么一次,人们看见他在公开审判时弄得毫无办法。那次是坎宁安家族的人难住了他。萨勒姆是他们扎根落脚的地方,最初两个家族分占两个地方。但不幸的是,两家的姓都一样。坎宁安家族的人跟康宁安家族的人长期结亲,直到后来两家人韵姓的拼法变得毫无实际意义。有一次,坎宁安家族的一个人同康宁安家族的一个人为土地所有权争了起来,告到法院,这名字的拼法才有了作用。在这一类性质的纠纷中,吉姆斯-坎宁安声称,他妈妈在契约等文件上签字都写的是坎宁安,但她确实是康宁安家族的人。她拼不准单词,很少看书,而且,有时夜里坐在前门走廊上,呆呆地望着远处。听了九个钟头的有关萨勒姆居民的怪癖后,泰勒法官说法院不再受理这一诉讼。人们间他这有什么法律根据,他说:“包办诉讼的纵容罪。”并且宣布他渴望这些诉讼当事人因为各人都享受了公开发言权而心满意足了。的确是这样,他们首先想到的一切便是这个。
泰勒法官有个挺有趣的习惯。他允许在审判厅内抽烟,自己却不抽。有这样的情况,如果你走运的话,可以有幸看到他把一支长雪茄烟放进嘴里,慢慢地咀嚼。这支没点燃的雪茄会一点一点地消失掉,几个小时后,也变成千瘪溜滑的一团吐出来,精华全吸掉了,与泰勒法官的唾液混在一起。
证人席在泰勒法官的右边,我们在位子上坐下时,赫克?塔特先生已经坐在证人席上了。



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