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Chapter 17

      “Jem,” I said, “are those the Ewells sittin‘ down yonder?”

  “Hush,” said Jem, “Mr. Heck Tate’s testifyin‘.”

  Mr. Tate had dressed for the occasion. He wore an ordinary business suit, whichmade him look somehow like every other man: gone were his high boots, lumber jacket,and bullet-studded belt. From that moment he ceased to terrify me. He was sittingforward in the witness chair, his hands clasped between his knees, listening attentivelyto the circuit solicitor.

  The solicitor, a Mr. Gilmer, was not well known to us. He was from Abbottsville; wesaw him only when court convened, and that rarely, for court was of no special interestto Jem and me. A balding, smooth-faced man, he could have been anywhere betweenforty and sixty. Although his back was to us, we knew he had a slight cast in one of hiseyes which he used to his advantage: he seemed to be looking at a person when hewas actually doing nothing of the kind, thus he was hell on juries and witnesses. Thejury, thinking themselves under close scrutiny, paid attention; so did the witnesses,thinking likewise.

  “…in your own words, Mr. Tate,” Mr. Gilmer was saying.

  “Well,” said Mr. Tate, touching his glasses and speaking to his knees, “I was called—”

  “Could you say it to the jury, Mr. Tate? Thank you. Who called you?”

  Mr. Tate said, “I was fetched by Bob—by Mr. Bob Ewell yonder, one night—”

  “What night, sir?”

  Mr. Tate said, “It was the night of November twenty-first. I was just leaving my office togo home when B—Mr. Ewell came in, very excited he was, and said get out to his housequick, some nigger’d raped his girl.”

  “Did you go?”

  “Certainly. Got in the car and went out as fast as I could.”

  “And what did you find?”

  “Found her lying on the floor in the middle of the front room, one on the right as you goin. She was pretty well beat up, but I heaved her to her feet and she washed her face ina bucket in the corner and said she was all right. I asked her who hurt her and she saidit was Tom Robinson—”

  Judge Taylor, who had been concentrating on his fingernails, looked up as if he wereexpecting an objection, but Atticus was quiet.

  “—asked her if he beat her like that, she said yes he had. Asked her if he tookadvantage of her and she said yes he did. So I went down to Robinson’s house andbrought him back. She identified him as the one, so I took him in. That’s all there was toit.”

  “Thank you,” said Mr. Gilmer.

  Judge Taylor said, “Any questions, Atticus?”

  “Yes,” said my father. He was sitting behind his table; his chair was skewed to oneside, his legs were crossed and one arm was resting on the back of his chair.

  “Did you call a doctor, Sheriff? Did anybody call a doctor?” asked Atticus.

  “No sir,” said Mr. Tate.

  “Didn’t call a doctor?”

  “No sir,” repeated Mr. Tate.

  “Why not?” There was an edge to Atticus’s voice.

  “Well I can tell you why I didn’t. It wasn’t necessary, Mr. Finch. She was mightybanged up. Something sho‘ happened, it was obvious.”

  “But you didn’t call a doctor? While you were there did anyone send for one, fetch one,carry her to one?”

  “No sir—”

  Judge Taylor broke in. “He’s answered the question three times, Atticus. He didn’t calla doctor.”

  Atticus said, “I just wanted to make sure, Judge,” and the judge smiled.

  Jem’s hand, which was resting on the balcony rail, tightened around it. He drew in hisbreath suddenly. Glancing below, I saw no corresponding reaction, and wondered if Jemwas trying to be dramatic. Dill was watching peacefully, and so was Reverend Sykesbeside him.

  “What is it?” I whispered, and got a terse, “Sh-h!”

  “Sheriff,” Atticus was saying, “you say she was mighty banged up. In what way?”

  “Well—”

  “Just describe her injuries, Heck.”

  “Well, she was beaten around the head. There was already bruises comin‘ on herarms, and it happened about thirty minutes before—”

  “How do you know?”

  Mr. Tate grinned. “Sorry, that’s what they said. Anyway, she was pretty bruised upwhen I got there, and she had a black eye comin‘.”

  “Which eye?”

  Mr. Tate blinked and ran his hands through his hair. “Let’s see,” he said softly, then helooked at Atticus as if he considered the question childish. “Can’t you remember?”

  Atticus asked.

  Mr. Tate pointed to an invisible person five inches in front of him and said, “Her left.”

  “Wait a minute, Sheriff,” said Atticus. “Was it her left facing you or her left looking thesame way you were?”

  Mr. Tate said, “Oh yes, that’d make it her right. It was her right eye, Mr. Finch. Iremember now, she was bunged up on that side of her face…”

  Mr. Tate blinked again, as if something had suddenly been made plain to him. Thenhe turned his head and looked around at Tom Robinson. As if by instinct, Tom Robinsonraised his head.

  Something had been made plain to Atticus also, and it brought him to his feet. “Sheriff,please repeat what you said.”

  “It was her right eye, I said.”

  “No…” Atticus walked to the court reporter’s desk and bent down to the furiouslyscribbling hand. It stopped, flipped back the shorthand pad, and the court reporter said,“‘Mr. Finch. I remember now she was bunged up on that side of the face.’”

  Atticus looked up at Mr. Tate. “Which side again, Heck?”

  “The right side, Mr. Finch, but she had more bruises—you wanta hear about ‘em?”

  Atticus seemed to be bordering on another question, but he thought better of it andsaid, “Yes, what were her other injuries?” As Mr. Tate answered, Atticus turned andlooked at Tom Robinson as if to say this was something they hadn’t bargained for.

  “…her arms were bruised, and she showed me her neck. There were definite fingermarks on her gullet—”

  “All around her throat? At the back of her neck?”

  “I’d say they were all around, Mr. Finch.”

  “You would?”

  “Yes sir, she had a small throat, anybody could’a reached around it with—”

  “Just answer the question yes or no, please, Sheriff,” said Atticus dryly, and Mr. Tatefell silent.

  Atticus sat down and nodded to the circuit solicitor, who shook his head at the judge,who nodded to Mr. Tate, who rose stiffly and stepped down from the witness stand.

  Below us, heads turned, feet scraped the floor, babies were shifted to shoulders, anda few children scampered out of the courtroom. The Negroes behind us whispered softlyamong themselves; Dill was asking Reverend Sykes what it was all about, but ReverendSykes said he didn’t know. So far, things were utterly dull: nobody had thundered, therewere no arguments between opposing counsel, there was no drama; a gravedisappointment to all present, it seemed. Atticus was proceeding amiably, as if he wereinvolved in a title dispute. With his infinite capacity for calming turbulent seas, he couldmake a rape case as dry as a sermon. Gone was the terror in my mind of stale whiskeyand barnyard smells, of sleepy-eyed sullen men, of a husky voice calling in the night,“Mr. Finch? They gone?” Our nightmare had gone with daylight, everything would comeout all right.

  All the spectators were as relaxed as Judge Taylor, except Jem. His mouth wastwisted into a purposeful half-grin, and his eyes happy about, and he said somethingabout corroborating evidence, which made me sure he was showing off.

  “…Robert E. Lee Ewell!”

  In answer to the clerk’s booming voice, a little bantam cock of a man rose and struttedto the stand, the back of his neck reddening at the sound of his name. When he turnedaround to take the oath, we saw that his face was as red as his neck. We also saw noresemblance to his namesake. A shock of wispy new-washed hair stood up from hisforehead; his nose was thin, pointed, and shiny; he had no chin to speak of—it seemedto be part of his crepey neck.

  “—so help me God,” he crowed.

  Every town the size of Maycomb had families like the Ewells. No economicfluctuations changed their status—people like the Ewells lived as guests of the county inprosperity as well as in the depths of a depression. No truant officers could keep theirnumerous offspring in school; no public health officer could free them from congenitaldefects, various worms, and the diseases indigenous to filthy surroundings.

  Maycomb’s Ewells lived behind the town garbage dump in what was once a Negrocabin. The cabin’s plank walls were supplemented with sheets of corrugated iron, itsroof shingled with tin cans hammered flat, so only its general shape suggested itsoriginal design: square, with four tiny rooms opening onto a shotgun hall, the cabinrested uneasily upon four irregular lumps of limestone. Its windows were merely openspaces in the walls, which in the summertime were covered with greasy strips ofcheesecloth to keep out the varmints that feasted on Maycomb’s refuse.

  The varmints had a lean time of it, for the Ewells gave the dump a thorough gleaningevery day, and the fruits of their industry (those that were not eaten) made the plot ofground around the cabin look like the playhouse of an insane child: what passed for afence was bits of tree-limbs, broomsticks and tool shafts, all tipped with rusty hammer-heads, snaggle-toothed rake heads, shovels, axes and grubbing hoes, held on withpieces of barbed wire. Enclosed by this barricade was a dirty yard containing theremains of a Model-T Ford (on blocks), a discarded dentist’s chair, an ancient icebox,plus lesser items: old shoes, worn-out table radios, picture frames, and fruit jars, underwhich scrawny orange chickens pecked hopefully.

  One corner of the yard, though, bewildered Maycomb. Against the fence, in a line,were six chipped-enamel slop jars holding brilliant red geraniums, cared for as tenderlyas if they belonged to Miss Maudie Atkinson, had Miss Maudie deigned to permit ageranium on her premises. People said they were Mayella Ewell’s.

  Nobody was quite sure how many children were on the place. Some people said six,others said nine; there were always several dirty-faced ones at the windows whenanyone passed by. Nobody had occasion to pass by except at Christmas, when thechurches delivered baskets, and when the mayor of Maycomb asked us to please helpthe garbage collector by dumping our own trees and trash.

  Atticus took us with him last Christmas when he complied with the mayor’s request. Adirt road ran from the highway past the dump, down to a small Negro settlement somefive hundred yards beyond the Ewells‘. It was necessary either to back out to thehighway or go the full length of the road and turn around; most people turned around inthe Negroes’ front yards. In the frosty December dusk, their cabins looked neat andsnug with pale blue smoke rising from the chimneys and doorways glowing amber fromthe fires inside. There were delicious smells about: chicken, bacon frying crisp as thetwilight air. Jem and I detected squirrel cooking, but it took an old countryman likeAtticus to identify possum and rabbit, aromas that vanished when we rode back past theEwell residence.

  All the little man on the witness stand had that made him any better than his nearestneighbors was, that if scrubbed with lye soap in very hot water, his skin was white.

  “Mr. Robert Ewell?” asked Mr. Gilmer.

  “That’s m’name, cap’n,” said the witness.

  Mr. Gilmer’s back stiffened a little, and I felt sorry for him. Perhaps I’d better explainsomething now. I’ve heard that lawyers’ children, on seeing their parents in court in theheat of argument, get the wrong idea: they think opposing counsel to be the personalenemies of their parents, they suffer agonies, and are surprised to see them often goout arm-in-arm with their tormenters during the first recess. This was not true of Jemand me. We acquired no traumas from watching our father win or lose. I’m sorry that Ican’t provide any drama in this respect; if I did, it would not be true. We could tell,however, when debate became more acrimonious than professional, but this was fromwatching lawyers other than our father. I never heard Atticus raise his voice in my life,except to a deaf witness. Mr. Gilmer was doing his job, as Atticus was doing his.

  Besides, Mr. Ewell was Mr. Gilmer’s witness, and he had no business being rude to himof all people.

  “Are you the father of Mayella Ewell?” was the next question.

  “Well, if I ain’t I can’t do nothing about it now, her ma’s dead,” was the answer.

  Judge Taylor stirred. He turned slowly in his swivel chair and looked benignly at thewitness. “Are you the father of Mayella Ewell?” he asked, in a way that made thelaughter below us stop suddenly.

  “Yes sir,” Mr. Ewell said meekly.

  Judge Taylor went on in tones of good will: “This the first time you’ve ever been incourt? I don’t recall ever seeing you here.” At the witness’s affirmative nod he continued,“Well, let’s get something straight. There will be no more audibly obscene speculationson any subject from anybody in this courtroom as long as I’m sitting here. Do youunderstand?”

  Mr. Ewell nodded, but I don’t think he did. Judge Taylor sighed and said, “All right, Mr.

  Gilmer?”

  “Thank you, sir. Mr. Ewell, would you tell us in your own words what happened on theevening of November twenty-first, please?”

  Jem grinned and pushed his hair back. Just-in-your-own words was Mr. Gilmer’strademark. We often wondered who else’s words Mr. Gilmer was afraid his witnessmight employ.

  “Well, the night of November twenty-one I was comin‘ in from the woods with a loado’kindlin’ and just as I got to the fence I heard Mayella screamin‘ like a stuck hog insidethe house—”

  Here Judge Taylor glanced sharply at the witness and must have decided hisspeculations devoid of evil intent, for he subsided sleepily.

  “What time was it, Mr. Ewell?”

  “Just ‘fore sundown. Well, I was sayin’ Mayella was screamin‘ fit to beat Jesus—”

  another glance from the bench silenced Mr. Ewell.

  “Yes? She was screaming?” said Mr. Gilmer.

  Mr. Ewell looked confusedly at the judge. “Well, Mayella was raisin‘ this holy racket soI dropped m’load and run as fast as I could but I run into th’ fence, but when I gotdistangled I run up to th‘ window and I seen—” Mr. Ewell’s face grew scarlet. He stoodup and pointed his finger at Tom Robinson. “—I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin’ onmy Mayella!”

  So serene was Judge Taylor’s court, that he had few occasions to use his gavel, buthe hammered fully five minutes. Atticus was on his feet at the bench saying somethingto him, Mr. Heck Tate as first officer of the county stood in the middle aisle quelling thepacked courtroom. Behind us, there was an angry muffled groan from the coloredpeople.

  Reverend Sykes leaned across Dill and me, pulling at Jem’s elbow. “Mr. Jem,” hesaid, “you better take Miss Jean Louise home. Mr. Jem, you hear me?”

  Jem turned his head. “Scout, go home. Dill, you’n‘Scout go home.”

  “You gotta make me first,” I said, remembering Atticus’s blessed dictum.

  Jem scowled furiously at me, then said to Reverend Sykes, “I think it’s okay,Reverend, she doesn’t understand it.”

  I was mortally offended. “I most certainly do, I c’n understand anything you can.”

  “Aw hush. She doesn’t understand it, Reverend, she ain’t nine yet.”

  Reverend Sykes’s black eyes were anxious. “Mr. Finch know you all are here? Thisain’t fit for Miss Jean Louise or you boys either.”

  Jem shook his head. “He can’t see us this far away. It’s all right, Reverend.”

  I knew Jem would win, because I knew nothing could make him leave now. Dill and Iwere safe, for a while: Atticus could see us from where he was, if he looked.

  As Judge Taylor banged his gavel, Mr. Ewell was sitting smugly in the witness chair,surveying his handiwork. With one phrase he had turned happy picknickers into a sulky,tense, murmuring crowd, being slowly hypnotized by gavel taps lessening in intensityuntil the only sound in the courtroom was a dim pink-pink-pink: the judge might havebeen rapping the bench with a pencil.

  In possession of his court once more, Judge Taylor leaned back in his chair. Helooked suddenly weary; his age was showing, and I thought about what Atticus hadsaid—he and Mrs. Taylor didn’t kiss much—he must have been nearly seventy.

  “There has been a request,” Judge Taylor said, “that this courtroom be cleared ofspectators, or at least of women and children, a request that will be denied for the timebeing. People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for, and theyhave the right to subject their children to it, but I can assure you of one thing: you willreceive what you see and hear in silence or you will leave this courtroom, but you won’tleave it until the whole boiling of you come before me on contempt charges. Mr. Ewell,you will keep your testimony within the confines of Christian English usage, if that ispossible. Proceed, Mr. Gilmer.”

  Mr. Ewell reminded me of a deaf-mute. I was sure he had never heard the wordsJudge Taylor directed at him—his mouth struggled silently with them—but their importregistered on his face. Smugness faded from it, replaced by a dogged earnestness thatfooled Judge Taylor not at all: as long as Mr. Ewell was on the stand, the judge kept hiseyes on him, as if daring him to make a false move.

  Mr. Gilmer and Atticus exchanged glances. Atticus was sitting down again, his fistrested on his cheek and we could not see his face. Mr. Gilmer looked rather desperate.

  A question from Judge Taylor made him relax: “Mr. Ewell, did you see the defendanthaving sexual intercourse with your daughter?”

  “Yes, I did.”

  The spectators were quiet, but the defendant said something. Atticus whispered tohim, and Tom Robinson was silent.

  “You say you were at the window?” asked Mr. Gilmer.

  “Yes sir.”

  “How far is it from the ground?”

  “‘bout three foot.”

  “Did you have a clear view of the room?”

  “Yes sir.”

  “How did the room look?”

  “Well, it was all slung about, like there was a fight.”

  “What did you do when you saw the defendant?”

  “Well, I run around the house to get in, but he run out the front door just ahead of me. Isawed who he was, all right. I was too distracted about Mayella to run after’im. I run inthe house and she was lyin‘ on the floor squallin’—”

  “Then what did you do?”

  “Why, I run for Tate quick as I could. I knowed who it was, all right, lived down yonderin that nigger-nest, passed the house every day. Jedge, I’ve asked this county for fifteenyears to clean out that nest down yonder, they’re dangerous to live around ‘sidesdevaluin’ my property—”

  “Thank you, Mr. Ewell,” said Mr. Gilmer hurriedly.

  The witness made a hasty descent from the stand and ran smack into Atticus, whohad risen to question him. Judge Taylor permitted the court to laugh.

  “Just a minute, sir,” said Atticus genially. “Could I ask you a question or two?”

  Mr. Ewell backed up into the witness chair, settled himself, and regarded Atticus withhaughty suspicion, an expression common to Maycomb County witnesses whenconfronted by opposing counsel.

  “Mr. Ewell,” Atticus began, “folks were doing a lot of running that night. Let’s see, yousay you ran to the house, you ran to the window, you ran inside, you ran to Mayella, youran for Mr. Tate. Did you, during all this running, run for a doctor?”

  “Wadn’t no need to. I seen what happened.”

  “But there’s one thing I don’t understand,” said Atticus. “Weren’t you concerned withMayella’s condition?”

  “I most positively was,” said Mr. Ewell. “I seen who done it.”

  “No, I mean her physical condition. Did you not think the nature of her injurieswarranted immediate medical attention?”

  “What?”

  “Didn’t you think she should have had a doctor, immediately?”

  The witness said he never thought of it, he had never called a doctor to any of his’n inhis life, and if he had it would have cost him five dollars. “That all?” he asked.

  “Not quite,” said Atticus casually. “Mr. Ewell, you heard the sheriff’s testimony, didn’tyou?”

  “How’s that?”

  “You were in the courtroom when Mr. Heck Tate was on the stand, weren’t you? Youheard everything he said, didn’t you?”

  Mr. Ewell considered the matter carefully, and seemed to decide that the question wassafe.

  “Yes,” he said.

  “Do you agree with his description of Mayella’s injuries?”

  “How’s that?”

  Atticus looked around at Mr. Gilmer and smiled. Mr. Ewell seemed determined not togive the defense the time of day.

  “Mr. Tate testified that her right eye was blackened, that she was beaten around the—”

  “Oh yeah,” said the witness. “I hold with everything Tate said.”

  “You do?” asked Atticus mildly. “I just want to make sure.” He went to the courtreporter, said something, and the reporter entertained us for some minutes by readingMr. Tate’s testimony as if it were stock-market quotations: “…which eye her left oh yesthat’d make it her right it was her right eye Mr. Finch I remember now she was bunged.”

  He flipped the page. “Up on that side of the face Sheriff please repeat what you said itwas her right eye I said—”

  “Thank you, Bert,” said Atticus. “You heard it again, Mr. Ewell. Do you have anythingto add to it? Do you agree with the sheriff?”

  “I holds with Tate. Her eye was blacked and she was mighty beat up.”

  The little man seemed to have forgotten his previous humiliation from the bench. Itwas becoming evident that he thought Atticus an easy match. He seemed to grow ruddyagain; his chest swelled, and once more he was a red little rooster. I thought he’d bursthis shirt at Atticus’s next question:

  “Mr. Ewell, can you read and write?”

  Mr. Gilmer interrupted. “Objection,” he said. “Can’t see what witness’s literacy has todo with the case, irrelevant’n‘immaterial.”

  Judge Taylor was about to speak but Atticus said, “Judge, if you’ll allow the questionplus another one you’ll soon see.”

  “All right, let’s see,” said Judge Taylor, “but make sure we see, Atticus. Overruled.”

  Mr. Gilmer seemed as curious as the rest of us as to what bearing the state of Mr.

  Ewell’s education had on the case.

  “I’ll repeat the question,” said Atticus. “Can you read and write?”

  “I most positively can.”

  “Will you write your name and show us?”

  “I most positively will. How do you think I sign my relief checks?”

  Mr. Ewell was endearing himself to his fellow citizens. The whispers and chucklesbelow us probably had to do with what a card he was.

  I was becoming nervous. Atticus seemed to know what he was doing—but it seemedto me that he’d gone frog-sticking without a light. Never, never, never, on cross-examination ask a witness a question you don’t already know the answer to, was a tenetI absorbed with my baby-food. Do it, and you’ll often get an answer you don’t want, ananswer that might wreck your case.

  Atticus was reaching into the inside pocket of his coat. He drew out an envelope, thenreached into his vest pocket and unclipped his fountain pen. He moved leisurely, andhad turned so that he was in full view of the jury. He unscrewed the fountain-pen capand placed it gently on his table. He shook the pen a little, then handed it with theenvelope to the witness. “Would you write your name for us?” he asked. “Clearly now,so the jury can see you do it.”

  Mr. Ewell wrote on the back of the envelope and looked up complacently to see JudgeTaylor staring at him as if he were some fragrant gardenia in full bloom on the witnessstand, to see Mr. Gilmer half-sitting, half-standing at his table. The jury was watchinghim, one man was leaning forward with his hands over the railing.

  “What’s so interestin‘?” he asked.

  “You’re left-handed, Mr. Ewell,” said Judge Taylor. Mr. Ewell turned angrily to thejudge and said he didn’t see what his being left-handed had to do with it, that he was aChrist-fearing man and Atticus Finch was taking advantage of him. Tricking lawyers likeAtticus Finch took advantage of him all the time with their tricking ways. He had toldthem what happened, he’d say it again and again—which he did. Nothing Atticus askedhim after that shook his story, that he’d looked through the window, then ran the niggeroff, then ran for the sheriff. Atticus finally dismissed him.

  Mr. Gilmer asked him one more question. “About your writing with your left hand, areyou ambidextrous, Mr. Ewell?”

  “I most positively am not, I can use one hand good as the other. One hand good asthe other,” he added, glaring at the defense table.

  Jem seemed to be having a quiet fit. He was pounding the balcony rail softly, andonce he whispered, “We’ve got him.”

  I didn’t think so: Atticus was trying to show, it seemed to me, that Mr. Ewell could havebeaten up Mayella. That much I could follow. If her right eye was blacked and she wasbeaten mostly on the right side of the face, it would tend to show that a left-handedperson did it. Sherlock Holmes and Jem Finch would agree. But Tom Robinson couldeasily be left-handed, too. Like Mr. Heck Tate, I imagined a person facing me, wentthrough a swift mental pantomime, and concluded that he might have held her with hisright hand and pounded her with his left. I looked down at him. His back was to us, but Icould see his broad shoulders and bull-thick neck. He could easily have done it. Ithought Jem was counting his chickens.

“杰姆,”我说,“坐在下面那一边的是尤厄尔家的人吗?”“嘘,”杰姆说,“赫克?塔特先生在作证。”塔特先生今天特别打扮了一下。他穿着一身普通的老式西装,使自己看上去跟其他别的人一个样。高筒靴、笨重的甲克衫和缀着铁钉的腰带不见了。从那一刻起,他再没叫我害怕过。他坐在证人椅里,身向前倾,十指交叉地握着,放在两个膝盖之间,专心地听着巡回法务官说话。
巡回法务官,一个叫吉尔默先生的人,我们都不太熟悉。他是阿波兹维尔人,只有在法院开庭时才能看见他,就是这种情况也不多,因为法院对我和杰姆并不具有特别的吸引力。这位吉尔默先生正在秃顶,光光的脸上没一根胡须,年纪在四十到六十之间。虽然我们坐在他的背面,也知道他一只眼睛有点斜视,这点他利用得很好:他会看起来在注税着某个人,而实际上根本不是那么一回事,因而他对陪审团成员和证人来说,都是十分可怕的。陪审团以为自己总是在受着严密的监视,不敢大意,旁证人也同样有这种想法。
“……要讲真话,塔特先生。”吉尔默先生在说。
“好,”塔特先生应道,他扶了扶眼镜,然后低头对着自己的膝盖说了起来,“他叫我去……”
“对陪审团说好吗,塔特先生?谢谢你。是谁叫你去的?”
“是鲍勃?尤厄尔先生,就是那边那个。在那天夜里……”
“哪天夜里,先生?”
“那是11月21日夜里。我正耍离开办公室回家,鲍勃?尤厄尔先生进来了,神情非常激动,要我赶快去他家,说有个黑鬼强奸了他女儿。”
“你去了吗?”
“当然。我上了车很快地赶去了。”
“那么你看到了什么?”
“看到她躺在前屋地板中央,就是进门右手那间屋。她给打得很厉害,我扶她站起来。她在墙角的一个桶里洗了脸,说她没事。我问她是谁打的,她说是汤姆?鲁宾逊……”
泰勒法官正对他自己的指甲垒神贯注,这时抬起头来,好象等着有人提出异议,但是阿迪克斯没有开口。
“……问她是不是鲁宾逊把她打成那样,她说是的,是他。问她是不是鲁宾逊欺侮了她,她说是的,他这么干了。所以我到了鲁宾逊家,把他弄回来。她说正是他,于是我就把鲁宾逊关起来了。就是这些。”
“谢谢你。”吉尔默先生说。
泰勒法官说:“有什么问题吗,阿迪克斯?”
。有,”爸爸说。他坐在桌子后,椅子歪到一边,跷着二郎腿,一只胳膊搁住椅背上。
“你请了医生吗,司法官?有别人去请了医生吗?”阿迪克斯问道。
“没有,先生。”塔特先生说。
“没有请医生?”
“没有,先生。”塔特先生又说了一遍。
“为什么没有?”阿迪克斯的话有点逼人。
“我可以告诉你我为什么没去请。没有必要,芬奇先生。她被打得那么厉害,肯定出了什么事,这很明显。”
“但是你没去请医生吗?你在那儿的时候有人打发人去请或亲自去请医生或带她去找个医生吗?”
“没有,先生……”
泰勒法官插嘴说:“这个问题他回答了三次,阿迪克斯。他没去请医生。”
阿迪克斯说:“我只是要证实一下,法官先生。”法官笑了一笑。
杰姆的手原来放在栏杆上,这时却抓得紧紧的。他突然吸了一口气。我往下看了一眼,不见有什么相应的反应,使在心里想是不是杰姆故意要逗人注意。迪尔不动也不出声地看着,他旁边的赛克斯牧师和他一样。“什么事?”我低声问道,听到的只是一声短短的“嘘’。
“司法官,”阿迪克斯在问,“你说她被人打得很厉害,怎么打的?”
“这……。
“把她的伤情描绘一下,赫克。”
“头部挨了打,胳膊上出现伤痕,这是在三十分钟以前的事……”
“你怎么知道?”
塔特先生咧了咧嘴。“很抱歉,他们就这么说的。不管怎样,我赶到时,她的伤已相当厉害,而且一只眼圈发青。”
“哪只限?”
塔特先生眨了眨眼,两只手在头发里梳着。“让我想一想,”他轻声说道。接着,他望着阿迪克斯,似乎认为这问题提得太幼稚。
“记不起了吗?”阿迪克斯又问。
塔特先生往前面五英尺开外的地方虚指了一下,说:“她的左眼。”
“请等一下,司法官。”阿迪克斯说,“是她面对你的左眼还是和你朝一个方向看的左眼?”
塔特先生说:“啊,对,这么说就该是她的右眼。是右眼,芬奇先生。这会儿我记起来了,她被打的是面部那一边……”
塔特先生又眨了眨眼,好象什么事突然变得明白了似的。他扭头打量了一下汤姆?鲁宾逊。仿佛出于本能,汤姆抬起了头。
阿迪克斯心里同样明白了点什么,因而他站起来。“司法官,请重复一遍你说过的话。
“打的是她的右眼,我这样说的。”。
“不……”阿迪克斯向法庭记录的桌前走去,向那只正忙于写字的手弯下身去。那手停住。把速记本翻了过来。法庭记录念道:“芬奇先生,这会儿我记起来了,她被打的是面部那一边。”
阿迪克斯抬头看着塔特先生。“再说一次,是哪一边,赫克?”
“右边,芬奇先生,不过,她还有别的伤处——您想听我说说吗?”
阿迪克斯似乎又想到了另一问题,但他一转念便说道:。想听昕,其他的伤处怎样?”塔特先生在作回答的同时,阿迪克斯转过去看着汤姆?鲁宾逊,仿佛在说这是他们不曾料到的。
。她胳膊上也有伤,还给我看了脖子。喉咙上有明显的手指印……”
“整个脖子都是,还是在脖子后面?”
。我说是整个脖子,芬奇先生。”
“你这么说?”
。是的,先生,她的脖子很细,谁都可以把它整个儿掐住……”
“只请你回答是还是不是,司法官。”阿迪克斯冷冷地说。塔特先生不吭气了。
阿迪克斯坐下,向巡回法务官点点头,巡回法务官又向法官摇摇头,法官又向塔特先生点点头,塔特先生僵硬地站起身,走下了证人席。
在我们底下,一个个脑袋在转动,脚擦着地板,怀里的婴儿移到了肩头,还有几个孩子蹦出了审判厅。身后的黑人们轻声地谈论着什么;迪尔正在问赛克斯牧师这到底是怎么回事。牧师说不知道。直到目前,气氛还极为沉闷:谁也没有高声怒喝,双方的律师还没有争辩,没有戏剧性的情节,似乎使在场的每个人都感到非常失望。阿迪克斯处事平和,好象牵涉到的是一件有关所有权的纠纷。他用那可以平息海潮的本事,把一件强奸案的审判弄得和布道一样乏味。陈威士忌酒和谷场的气昧,睡眼惺忪和面色阴沉的人,夜空里那个“芬奇先生?他们走了吗?”的沙哑声——这一切留在我脑子里的恐惧通通消失了。黎明赶走了梦魇,到头来一切都会好的。
象泰勒法官一样,所有的旁听者都松弛下来,只有杰姆例外。他使劲拧着嘴,半笑不笑,好象在思索着什么,两个眼珠滴溜溜四处转,还说了一些核对证据一类的事。我敢肯定,他是在表现自己。
“罗伯特?依?尤厄尔!”
听到书记官低沉的声音,一个矮小但神气十足的人站了起来,大摇大摆地走上了证人席。他听到念自己的名字,脖子后面都红了起来。他转身宣哲时,我们看到他的脸也和脖子一样红。我们还看到,他与他的同族人毫无相似之处。额头上一蓬刚洗过的头发东一束西一束地竖着;发亮的鼻子又细又尖;说不上有什么下巴——下巴好象是他皱巴巴的脖子的一部分。
“……我说实话。”他自傲地说。
和梅科姆同样大小的镇子都有象尤厄尔这样的家族。经济动荡改变不了他们的地位——不管繁荣还是萧条,他们都象客人一样住在县里。没有哪位监督逃学的职员能使他们那一群孩子呆在学校,没有哪位负责公共卫生的官员能使他们去掉那些天生的毛病,对他们那些污秽的环境所引起的特有的各种寄生虫和疾病,谁都毫无办法。
梅科姆镇上尤厄尔家的人住在垃圾堆后一个小屋里,从前那里边住的是黑人。这小屋的木板墙上又钉上了波纹铁片,顶上加盖了锤平了的锡罐头皮,只能从整个轮廓看出原来设计的模样:方方正正,四问很小的房间通向一个狭长的厅堂,整个屋子歪斜在四块形状不规则的石灰石上。墙上的空洞就是窗子,到夏天得用一块包干酪的布遮上,以防御那些在梅科姆垃圾堆上大吃大喝的害虫。
这些害虫的时运不佳了,因为尤厄尔家每天都到垃圾堆上彻底翻找一番,他们的劳动所得中那些不能吃的东西使这小屋四周看上去象是一个精神错乱的孩子的游戏室:拼凑成栅栏的是一些树干、扫帚柄、工具把,上头全装着生锈的榔头、歪齿的耙头,还有铁铲、斧头、锄头等等,都被带刺的铁丝缠在一起。其中有一辆T型号的福特牌汽车(停在修理槽上),一把被扔掉的牙科手术椅,一个旧冰箱。那些旧鞋子、破收音机、画框子和水果坛子等等,只能算是附带的小件。几只瘦得可怜的黄毛鸡在赢下兴冲冲地觅食。
不过,院子里有一个角落倒叫人迷惑不解。沿着栅栏,有六只破损的搪瓷污水桶排成一列,里面种着红色的天竺葵,精心照料得象莫迫?阿特金森小姐的那样,如果她肯降低身分栽一株天竺葵的话。人们说那是梅耶拉?尤厄尔的花。
没人能十分肯定这地方究竟有多少孩子,有人说六个,有人说九个。不管谁从窗前走过,总能看见几张脏脸挤在窗口。除了在圣诞节教堂绐穷人家送节日食品篮子,或是镇长要求我们帮助送垃圾的人把我们自己家的圣诞树和废物送到垃圾场去时,在平日谁都没有必要从那儿经过。
去年圣诞节,阿迪克斯遵照镇长要求,自己去倒垃圾时,把我们也带去了。从公路开始,一条泥巴路经过垃圾场通到离尤厄尔家五百码远的一个小的黑人住宅区。回家时,要么退到公路上,要么就得走完整段泥巴路再弯回来。大多数人都愿在黑人家的前院里拐弯回去。霜期的十二月黄昏,他们的小屋看起来整洁舒适,淡淡的青烟从烟囱里冒出来,门道里看得见炉火的琥珀色光焰,到处扩散着炒鸡、炒羊肉的香味。那种气昧和薄暮的空气一样清新。我和杰姆发现锅里有松鼠,不过,一般只有象阿迪克斯那样的老乡下人才能分辨出负鼠和兔子。在回去的路上经过尤厄尔住的地方时,这些香昧没有了。
证人席上那个矮小的人与他邻近的黑人的唯一区别是,他的皮肤若放在很热的水里用碱性肥皂擦洗,就会是白的。
“罗伯特-尤厄尔先生吗?”吉尔默先生问。
“是我,长官。”
吉尔默先生的背微微一伸,连我都替他感到难过。我现在也许把事情说得更明白一些为好。我早听说,律师们的孩子看到自己的爸爸在审判时激烈争辩,会有这种错误的想法——把对方的辩护人看成他们父亲的死敌,他们很感痛苦。但是看到刚一休庭,他们的父亲就跟他的对手们手挽手一道走出来时,他们便惊讶起来。我和杰姆却不是这样。不管爸爸是输了还是赢了,我们都一样坦然。遗憾的是,在这方面我不能提供任何戏剧性的东西,就是提供了也不会是逼真的。不过,我们肴得出争辩的激烈程度什么时候超过了职业范围。但是,这是从其他律师的争辩中看出来的,我们的爸爸却不这么千。我从没听见过阿迪克斯提高嗓门,除非听话的是一个耳聋的证人。现在,吉尔默先生只是在履行他的职务,正如阿迪克斯也在履行职务一样。而且尤厄尔是吉尔默先生的证人,他无论如何没有必要对他粗暴无礼。
接下来的问题是:“你是梅耶拉?尤厄尔的爸爸吗?”
回答是:“呃,要是我不是的话,那我什么事也不能干了,她妈早死了。”
泰勒法官坐不住了,他在转椅里慢慢转过身,很和气地望着这个证人。“您是梅耶拉?尤厄尔的父亲吗?”他问了声,问话的口气使我们下面的笑声猛然停住了。
“是的,先生。”尤厄尔先生这次答得很温顺。
泰勒法官用和蔼的口气继续说下去:“这是你头一回上法庭吗?我记得从没有在这儿见过你。”证人点头表示同意,法官又接着说:“这样吧,我得讲个明白,只要我坐在这儿,任何人都不许把任何问题说得准听。懂了吗?”
尤厄尔先生点点头,可我却不相信他。泰勒法官叹了一声,说:“好吧,吉尔默先生?”
“谢谢你,先生。尤厄尔先生,请你老老实实地把11月21日晚上发生的事告诉我们好吗?”
杰姆咧嘴一笑,把头发往后拢了拢。。老——老——实——实地说。,这话一昕就知道是吉尔默先生的,简直就象他的商标一样。我们常常纳闷,吉尔默先生怕他的证人用谁的话作证。
“呃,11月21日晚上,我带着一捆引火柴从林子里回家。刚走到栅栏前,就听到梅耶拉在屋子里象杀猪似的尖叫……”
听到这话,泰勒法官直瞪着他,但又一定断定他这话说得没有恶意,因为他又昏昏欲睡地坐在那儿。
“是在什么时问,尤厄尔先生?”
“就在太阳落山前。刚才我说梅耶拉叫得鬼哭神嚎……”审判席上的人又瞪了他一眼,尤厄尔不做声了。
“是吗?她是在尖声喊叫吗?”吉尔默先生说。
尤厄尔先生迷惑地望着法官。“嗯,梅耶拉叫得越夹越凶,我扔下手里的东西就拼命跑,但栅栏把我挂住了。我挣脱开以后,就跑到了窗前,我看见……”尤厄尔先生脸色绯红。他站起身,用手指着汤姆。“我看见那黑鬼正在我的梅耶拉身上乱来!”
泰勒法官的审判厅经常平静得很少有必要动用小木槌,但这次,他敲了整整五分钟。阿迪克斯站在审判席上对他说着什么,赫克?塔特以县里第一号官员的身分站刊过道里,叫满屋子乱哄哄的人安静下来。我们身后,黑人们发出了低沉的愤怒的声音。
赛克斯牧师的身子越过我和迪尔,推了推杰姆的手肘说:“杰姆先生,你最好把琼?路易斯小姐带回家去。杰姆先生,你听到了我说的话没有?”
条姆掉过头来:“斯各特,回家去。迪尔,你和斯各特回家去。”
“得让我先服了你才行。”我这样说,心里想起了阿迪克斯说过的那甸很好的格言。
杰姆冲我生气地瞪一瞪眼,然后对赛克斯牧师说,“我想没关系,牧师,她听不懂。”
我气得受不了。“我就是听得懂,你懂什么我就懂什么。”
“哦,住嘴。她不懂,牧师,她还没满九岁。”
赛克斯牧师的黑眼睛露出不安的神色。“芬奇先生知道你们都在这儿吗?这种事对琼?路易斯小姐不合适,对你们也不合适。‘’
杰姆摇摇头。“这么远,他看不到我们。没问题,牧师。”
我就知道杰姆会赢的,因为我知道这阵子没什么能使他离开审判厅。我和迪尔可以放心一阵予了。不过,阿迪克斯完全可以从他那儿发现我们,只要他一转脸就看得见我们。
泰勒法官敲着术槌,尤厄尔先生得意地坐在证人席上,欣赏着他造成的这一局面。凭他短短一句话,就让这些兴高采烈的野餐者变成了怒气冲冲、激动紧张、嘁嘁喳喳的人。槌于的敲打声使他们渐渐平持下来。直到最后,大厅里就剩了轻轻的“砰、砰、砰”的声音。听起来,法官好象在用铅笔敲着凳子似的。
重新控制了审判厅的局面后,泰勒法官靠在椅背上。他突然显得疲乏了,老态也表现出来了。
“有人提出要求,要把旁听者弄出审判厅,或者至少是妇女和孩子们,”泰勒法官说:“对这一要求暂时不予满足。人们一般可以看他所愿看的东西,听他所想听的事,同时,他们也有权决定是否让孩子也这样。不过,有一点我要你们记住,你们得安安静静地看,安安静静地听,否则你们就得离开审判厅。如果你们吵吵闹闹,那你们在我面前受到藐视法庭的控告以前,就别想轻易走掉。尤厄尔先生,我要求你尽可能使用合乎礼俗的话继续作证。说下去吧,吉尔默先生。”
尤厄尔先生那种神情使我想起了聋哑人。我相信泰勒法官对他说的话,他压根儿没有听进去——他的嘴作出动作,似乎在无声地说着话——不过,他脸上的神情表现出他体会到法官的话的重要性。他那得意洋洋的样子不见了,换成了一种非常认真的神态。但是,这种神态一点也骗不过泰勒法官:在尤厄尔先生坐在证人席上这段时间中,泰勒法官一直注意着他,好象看他敢不敢故意捣鬼。
吉尔默先生和阿迪克斯交换了个眼色。阿迪克斯又坐下了,一只拳头支着面颊,我们看不到他的脸。吉尔默先生显得很尴尬。泰勒法官问了一句话,使他轻松下来。“尤厄尔先生,你看到了被告与你女儿发生性行为吗?”
“是的,看到了。”
旁听者都寂静无声,被告却说了点什么。阿迪克斯跟他耳语了一阵,汤姆就再没开口。
“你是说在窗子那儿看到的吗?”吉尔默先生问。
“是,先生。”
“窗子离地面多高?”
“大约三英尺。”
“整个房间都看清楚了吗?”
“是的,先生。”
“屋里是什么样几?”
“嗯,东西甩得乱七八精,象是打架来着。”
“看见被告后你干了什么?”
“嗯,我绕过屋子想进去,但他在我之前就从前面跑了。我看清了是谁。我一心牵挂着梅耶拉,就没去追他。我跑进屋子,她正躺在地板上哭叫……”
“后来你干了什么?”
“怎么,我尽快地找了塔特。我知道那家伙是谁,就住在那边黑人窝里,每天都打我家门前走过。法官,我对县里说过十五年了,要把那边那个窝子除掉。他们住在身边太危险了。而且,即使我把房产卖出去,有他们在旁边,也卖不起价。
“谢谢你,尤厄尔先生。”吉尔默先生赶忙说了一句。
证人匆匆地从证人席上下来,正撞上阿迪克斯。阿迪克斯早站起来准备向他提问。泰勒法官没有理会审判厅里的笑声。
“稍等一下,先生,”阿迪克斯温和地说,“我能间你~两个问题吗?”
尤厄尔先生又退回到证人席上,坐稳了,用傲慢而又怀疑的眼光注视着阿迪克斯,这是梅科姆县的证人在对方律师面前常有的表情。
“尤厄尔先生,”阿迪克斯开口说遘,“那晚上,你跑了不少的路。我们看一看,你说你跑进院子,跑到窗前,跑进房子,跑到梅耶拉身边,你还跑去找塔特先生。你跑这跑那,跑去找了个医生没有?”
“没有必要,出的事我全看到了。”
“但是有件事我不明白,”阿迪克斯说,。你不为梅耶拉的情况担心吗?”
“我当然担心得不得了,”尤厄尔先生说,“我看到了是谁子的。”
“不,我是说她的身体情况。你没想到她受的那种性质的伤害,有理由即刻接受医疗吗?”
“什么?”
“你难道没想到她应该立刻要个医生吗?”
这位证人说他压根儿没想到这点,他一辈子都没为自己的孩子找过医生。要去找的话,还得花五元钱。“就这些吗?”他问。
“还有一点,”阿迪克斯漫不经心地说,“你听到了司法官的证词,对不对?”
“那又怎样?”
“赫克?塔特先生作证时,你在审判厅里,是不是?他说的话你都听见了,是不是?”
尤厄尔仔细掂了掂这个问题,然后显然认为这个问题不会使他上当。
“是的,”他说。
“你同意他对梅耶拉伤势的描述吗?”
“那又怎样?”
阿迪克斯转脸看着吉尔默先生,并笑了一笑。尤厄尔先生看上去似乎打定主意不理睬被告一方。
“塔特先生作证说她的右眼被打青了,打伤的部分还有……”
“啊,对的,’这位证人说,“塔特说的我完全同意。”
“你完全同意?”阿迪克斯问得很随和,“我只是想确认一F。”他走到法庭记录面前,说了点什么,然后记录员将塔特先生的证词象念证券交易所的行情一样念了几分钟,把我们全逗乐了:“……哪只眼?她的左眼,啊,对了,那样说就是她的右眼,打的是她的右眼,芬奇先生,我这会儿记起来了,”法庭记录员翻过一页继续念道:“……是那边的面部,司法官,请您重复您的话,打的是右眼,我说过……”
“谢谢你,伯特。”阿迪克斯说,“你又听了一遍,尤厄尔先生。还有什么要补充的吗?你同意司法官的话吗?”
“我同意,她一只眼被打青了,她挨了顿毒打。”
这矮个子似乎忘记了在审判席上受到了羞辱。他越来越明显地把阿迪克斯看成了一个好应付的对手。他又来神了,胸脯往前一挺一挺的,再次成了只红脖子公鸡。我暗暗在想,阿迪克斯要再提一个问题,他会得意到把衬衣都挺破。
“尤厄尔先生,你能读书写字吗?”
吉尔默先生出来进行干涉。“我反对,”他说,“我看不出证人的文化水平与本案有关,这话离了题,没有意义,”
泰勒法官正要开口,阿迪克斯却先说了:“法官,如果你允许这个问题后面再加上一个问题,你就会明白了。”
。行,让我想一想,”泰勒法官说,“不过,一定要让大家都明白,阿迪克斯。反对无效。”’
吉尔默先生和我们一样,真不知道尤厄尔先生的文化程度和案件本身有什么关系。
“我把问题重复一遍,”阿迪克斯说,“你能读书写字吗?”
“我当然能啦。”
“你愿意把你的名字写下来给我们看看吗?”
“当然愿意,你想我在领救济金时怎样签名呢?”
尤厄尔在同乡跟前卖乖。底下一阵耳语声和暗笑声很可能与他是个大活宝有关。
我紧张起来了。阿迪克斯好象清楚自己在千什么——但我看他似乎是在无灯捉蛤蟆。千万,千万,千万不要向证人提出一个自己不知道答案的问题,这是我在吃奶时就知道的原则。这样千,常常会得到一个自己不想要的答案,一个可能使你的辩护失败的答案。
阿迪克斯把手伸进上衣的内口袋,掏出一个信封,又从背心口袋上取出一支钢笔。他动作轻快,还转过身让陪审团船完全看清楚。接着,他拧下笔套,轻轻地放到自己桌上。他把笔稍微晃了一晃,连同信封一起交给了证人。“把自己的名字写下来好吗?”他问道,“写清楚,让陪审团能看着你写。”
尤厄尔先生在信封背面写好了名字,得意地抬起头,却看见泰勒法官直瞪瞪地望着他,仿佛看到证人席上长出一株开得正旺的栀子花。吉尔默先生在桌子旁半坐半立,陪审团也注视着尤厄尔先生,其中一个还向前倾着身子,两只手放在围栏上。
“什么事这么有趣?”他问。
“你是个左撇子,尤厄尔先生。”泰勒法官说。
尤厄尔先生气愤地转向法官,说他看不出他是个左撇子与案情有什么关系,说他是个虔诚的基督徒,而阿迪克斯正在捣他的鬼。象阿迪克斯这样狡猾的律师,总是使用他们惯用的狡猾手法搞他的鬼。他说他早把发生的事告诉了他们,他可以再反反复复地说——他也正是这样傲的,阿迪克斯问的话都不能改变他的说法。他说他往窗子里看了,然后吓跑了黑鬼,然后跑去找司法官。阿迪克斯没有再向他提问题了。
吉尔默先生又问了他另外一个问题。。你用左手写字,是不是双手俱灵,尤厄尔先生?”
“我当然不是,我一只手能够用得和另一只一样好,一只手和另一只一样好。”他补上一句,向被告席瞪着眼。
杰姆似乎悄悄地生气了。他轻轻拍打着楼厅栏杆,还小声说了一句:“难住他了。”
我不这么看。据我看,阿迪克斯似乎想要使人们知道,梅耶拉可能是被尤厄尔先生打的。这一点我是理解的。如果她的右眼被打青了,而且她被打伤的部位主要是她的右脸,就可以证明她是被一个左撇子打的。舍洛克?福尔摩斯圆和杰姆?芬奇都会同意这种说法。但是,汤姆?鲁宾逊也同样可