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Chapter 18

      But someone was booming again.

  “Mayella Violet Ewell—!”

  A young girl walked to the witness stand. As she raised her hand and swore that theevidence she gave would be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so helpher God, she seemed somehow fragile-looking, but when she sat facing us in thewitness chair she became what she was, a thick-bodied girl accustomed to strenuouslabor.

  In Maycomb County, it was easy to tell when someone bathed regularly, as opposedto yearly lavations: Mr. Ewell had a scalded look; as if an overnight soaking haddeprived him of protective layers of dirt, his skin appeared to be sensitive to theelements. Mayella looked as if she tried to keep clean, and I was reminded of the row ofred geraniums in the Ewell yard.

  Mr. Gilmer asked Mayella to tell the jury in her own words what happened on theevening of November twenty-first of last year, just in her own words, please.

  Mayella sat silently.

  “Where were you at dusk on that evening?” began Mr. Gilmer patiently.

  “On the porch.”

  “Which porch?”

  “Ain’t but one, the front porch.”

  “What were you doing on the porch?”

  “Nothin‘.”

  Judge Taylor said, “Just tell us what happened. You can do that, can’t you?”

  Mayella stared at him and burst into tears. She covered her mouth with her hands andsobbed. Judge Taylor let her cry for a while, then he said, “That’s enough now. Don’t be‘fraid of anybody here, as long as you tell the truth. All this is strange to you, I know, butyou’ve nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to fear. What are you scared of?”

  Mayella said something behind her hands. “What was that?” asked the judge.

  “Him,” she sobbed, pointing at Atticus.

  “Mr. Finch?”

  She nodded vigorously, saying, “Don’t want him doin‘ me like he done Papa, tryin’ tomake him out lefthanded…”

  Judge Taylor scratched his thick white hair. It was plain that he had never beenconfronted with a problem of this kind. “How old are you?” he asked.

  “Nineteen-and-a-half,” Mayella said.

  Judge Taylor cleared his throat and tried unsuccessfully to speak in soothing tones.

  “Mr. Finch has no idea of scaring you,” he growled, “and if he did, I’m here to stop him.

  That’s one thing I’m sitting up here for. Now you’re a big girl, so you just sit up straightand tell the—tell us what happened to you. You can do that, can’t you?”

  I whispered to Jem, “Has she got good sense?”

  Jem was squinting down at the witness stand. “Can’t tell yet,” he said. “She’s gotenough sense to get the judge sorry for her, but she might be just—oh, I don’t know.”

  Mollified, Mayella gave Atticus a final terrified glance and said to Mr. Gilmer, “Well sir,I was on the porch and—and he came along and, you see, there was this old chiffarobein the yard Papa’d brought in to chop up for kindlin‘—Papa told me to do it while he wasoff in the woods but I wadn’t feelin’ strong enough then, so he came by-”

  “Who is ‘he’?”

  Mayella pointed to Tom Robinson. “I’ll have to ask you to be more specific, please,”

  said Mr. Gilmer. “The reporter can’t put down gestures very well.”

  “That’n yonder,” she said. “Robinson.”

  “Then what happened?”

  “I said come here, nigger, and bust up this chiffarobe for me, I gotta nickel for you. Hecoulda done it easy enough, he could. So he come in the yard an‘ I went in the house toget him the nickel and I turned around an ’fore I knew it he was on me. Just run upbehind me, he did. He got me round the neck, cussin‘ me an’ sayin‘ dirt—Ifought’n’hollered, but he had me round the neck. He hit me agin an‘ agin—”

  Mr. Gilmer waited for Mayella to collect herself: she had twisted her handkerchief intoa sweaty rope; when she opened it to wipe her face it was a mass of creases from herhot hands. She waited for Mr. Gilmer to ask another question, but when he didn’t, shesaid, “-he chunked me on the floor an‘ choked me’n took advantage of me.”

  “Did you scream?” asked Mr. Gilmer. “Did you scream and fight back?”

  “Reckon I did, hollered for all I was worth, kicked and hollered loud as I could.”

  “Then what happened?”

  “I don’t remember too good, but next thing I knew Papa was in the room a’standingover me hollerin‘ who done it, who done it? Then I sorta fainted an’ the next thing I knewMr. Tate was pullin‘ me up offa the floor and leadin’ me to the water bucket.”

  Apparently Mayella’s recital had given her confidence, but it was not her father’s brashkind: there was something stealthy about hers, like a steady-eyed cat with a twitchy tail.

  “You say you fought him off as hard as you could? Fought him tooth and nail?” askedMr. Gilmer.

  “I positively did,” Mayella echoed her father.

  “You are positive that he took full advantage of you?”

  Mayella’s face contorted, and I was afraid that she would cry again. Instead, she said,“He done what he was after.”

  Mr. Gilmer called attention to the hot day by wiping his head with his hand. “That’s allfor the time being,” he said pleasantly, “but you stay there. I expect big bad Mr. Finchhas some questions to ask you.”

  “State will not prejudice the witness against counsel for the defense,” murmured JudgeTaylor primly, “at least not at this time.”

  Atticus got up grinning but instead of walking to the witness stand, he opened his coatand hooked his thumbs in his vest, then he walked slowly across the room to thewindows. He looked out, but didn’t seem especially interested in what he saw, then heturned and strolled back to the witness stand. From long years of experience, I could tellhe was trying to come to a decision about something.

  “Miss Mayella,” he said, smiling, “I won’t try to scare you for a while, not yet. Let’s justget acquainted. How old are you?”

  “Said I was nineteen, said it to the judge yonder.” Mayella jerked her head resentfullyat the bench.

  “So you did, so you did, ma’am. You’ll have to bear with me, Miss Mayella, I’m gettingalong and can’t remember as well as I used to. I might ask you things you’ve alreadysaid before, but you’ll give me an answer, won’t you? Good.”

  I could see nothing in Mayella’s expression to justify Atticus’s assumption that he hadsecured her wholehearted cooperation. She was looking at him furiously.

  “Won’t answer a word you say long as you keep on mockin‘ me,” she said.

  “Ma’am?” asked Atticus, startled.

  “Long’s you keep on makin‘ fun o’me.”

  Judge Taylor said, “Mr. Finch is not making fun of you. What’s the matter with you?”

  Mayella looked from under lowered eyelids at Atticus, but she said to the judge:

  “Long’s he keeps on callin‘ me ma’am an sayin’ Miss Mayella. I don’t hafta take hissass, I ain’t called upon to take it.”

  Atticus resumed his stroll to the windows and let Judge Taylor handle this one. JudgeTaylor was not the kind of figure that ever evoked pity, but I did feel a pang for him as hetried to explain. “That’s just Mr. Finch’s way,” he told Mayella. “We’ve done business inthis court for years and years, and Mr. Finch is always courteous to everybody. He’s nottrying to mock you, he’s trying to be polite. That’s just his way.”

  The judge leaned back. “Atticus, let’s get on with these proceedings, and let the recordshow that the witness has not been sassed, her views to the contrary.”

  I wondered if anybody had ever called her “ma’am,” or “Miss Mayella” in her life;probably not, as she took offense to routine courtesy. What on earth was her life like? Isoon found out.

  “You say you’re nineteen,” Atticus resumed. “How many sisters and brothers haveyou?” He walked from the windows back to the stand.

  “Seb’m,” she said, and I wondered if they were all like the specimen I had seen thefirst day I started to school.

  “You the eldest? The oldest?”

  “Yes.”

  “How long has your mother been dead?”

  “Don’t know—long time.”

  “Did you ever go to school?”

  “Read’n‘write good as Papa yonder.”

  Mayella sounded like a Mr. Jingle in a book I had been reading.

  “How long did you go to school?”

  “Two year—three year—dunno.”

  Slowly but surely I began to see the pattern of Atticus’s questions: from questions thatMr. Gilmer did not deem sufficiently irrelevant or immaterial to object to, Atticus wasquietly building up before the jury a picture of the Ewells’ home life. The jury learned thefollowing things: their relief check was far from enough to feed the family, and there wasstrong suspicion that Papa drank it up anyway—he sometimes went off in the swamp fordays and came home sick; the weather was seldom cold enough to require shoes, butwhen it was, you could make dandy ones from strips of old tires; the family hauled itswater in buckets from a spring that ran out at one end of the dump—they kept thesurrounding area clear of trash—and it was everybody for himself as far as keepingclean went: if you wanted to wash you hauled your own water; the younger children hadperpetual colds and suffered from chronic ground-itch; there was a lady who camearound sometimes and asked Mayella why she didn’t stay in school—she wrote downthe answer; with two members of the family reading and writing, there was no need forthe rest of them to learn—Papa needed them at home.

  “Miss Mayella,” said Atticus, in spite of himself, “a nineteen-year-old girl like you musthave friends. Who are your friends?”

  The witness frowned as if puzzled. “Friends?”

  “Yes, don’t you know anyone near your age, or older, or younger? Boys and girls?

  Just ordinary friends?”

  Mayella’s hostility, which had subsided to grudging neutrality, flared again. “Youmakin‘ fun o’me agin, Mr. Finch?”

  Atticus let her question answer his.

  “Do you love your father, Miss Mayella?” was his next.

  “Love him, whatcha mean?”

  “I mean, is he good to you, is he easy to get along with?”

  “He does tollable, ‘cept when—”

  “Except when?”

  Mayella looked at her father, who was sitting with his chair tipped against the railing.

  He sat up straight and waited for her to answer.

  “Except when nothin‘,” said Mayella. “I said he does tollable.”

  Mr. Ewell leaned back again.

  “Except when he’s drinking?” asked Atticus so gently that Mayella nodded.

  “Does he ever go after you?”

  “How you mean?”

  “When he’s—riled, has he ever beaten you?”

  Mayella looked around, down at the court reporter, up at the judge. “Answer thequestion, Miss Mayella,” said Judge Taylor.

  “My paw’s never touched a hair o’my head in my life,” she declared firmly. “He nevertouched me.”

  Atticus’s glasses had slipped a little, and he pushed them up on his nose. “We’ve hada good visit, Miss Mayella, and now I guess we’d better get to the case. You say youasked Tom Robinson to come chop up a—what was it?”

  “A chiffarobe, a old dresser full of drawers on one side.”

  “Was Tom Robinson well known to you?”

  “Whaddya mean?”

  “I mean did you know who he was, where he lived?”

  Mayella nodded. “I knowed who he was, he passed the house every day.”

  “Was this the first time you asked him to come inside the fence?”

  Mayella jumped slightly at the question. Atticus was making his slow pilgrimage to thewindows, as he had been doing: he would ask a question, then look out, waiting for ananswer. He did not see her involuntary jump, but it seemed to me that he knew she hadmoved. He turned around and raised his eyebrows. “Was—” he began again.

  “Yes it was.”

  “Didn’t you ever ask him to come inside the fence before?”

  She was prepared now. “I did not, I certainly did not.”

  “One did not’s enough,” said Atticus serenely. “You never asked him to do odd jobs foryou before?”

  “I mighta,” conceded Mayella. “There was several niggers around.”

  “Can you remember any other occasions?”

  “No.”

  “All right, now to what happened. You said Tom Robinson was behind you in the roomwhen you turned around, that right?”

  “Yes.”

  “You said he ‘got you around the neck cussing and saying dirt’—is that right?”

  “‘t’s right.”

  Atticus’s memory had suddenly become accurate. “You say ‘he caught me andchoked me and took advantage of me’—is that right?”

  “That’s what I said.”

  “Do you remember him beating you about the face?”

  The witness hesitated.

  “You seem sure enough that he choked you. All this time you were fighting back,remember? You ‘kicked and hollered as loud as you could.’ Do you remember himbeating you about the face?”

  Mayella was silent. She seemed to be trying to get something clear to herself. Ithought for a moment she was doing Mr. Heck Tate’s and my trick of pretending therewas a person in front of us. She glanced at Mr. Gilmer.

  “It’s an easy question, Miss Mayella, so I’ll try again. Do you remember him beatingyou about the face?” Atticus’s voice had lost its comfortableness; he was speaking in hisarid, detached professional voice. “Do you remember him beating you about the face?”

  “No, I don’t recollect if he hit me. I mean yes I do, he hit me.”

  “Was your last sentence your answer?”

  “Huh? Yes, he hit—I just don’t remember, I just don’t remember… it all happened soquick.”

  Judge Taylor looked sternly at Mayella. “Don’t you cry, young woman—” he began,but Atticus said, “Let her cry if she wants to, Judge. We’ve got all the time in the world.”

  Mayella sniffed wrathfully and looked at Atticus. “I’ll answer any question you got—getme up here an‘ mock me, will you? I’ll answer any question you got—”

  “That’s fine,” said Atticus. “There’re only a few more. Miss Mayella, not to be tedious,you’ve testified that the defendant hit you, grabbed you around the neck, choked you,and took advantage of you. I want you to be sure you have the right man. Will youidentify the man who raped you?”

  “I will, that’s him right yonder.”

  Atticus turned to the defendant. “Tom, stand up. Let Miss Mayella have a good longlook at you. Is this the man, Miss Mayella?”

  Tom Robinson’s powerful shoulders rippled under his thin shirt. He rose to his feet andstood with his right hand on the back of his chair. He looked oddly off balance, but it wasnot from the way he was standing. His left arm was fully twelve inches shorter than hisright, and hung dead at his side. It ended in a small shriveled hand, and from as faraway as the balcony I could see that it was no use to him.

  “Scout,” breathed Jem. “Scout, look! Reverend, he’s crippled!”

  Reverend Sykes leaned across me and whispered to Jem. “He got it caught in acotton gin, caught it in Mr. Dolphus Raymond’s cotton gin when he was a boy… like tobled to death… tore all the muscles loose from his bones—”

  Atticus said, “Is this the man who raped you?”

  “It most certainly is.”

  Atticus’s next question was one word long. “How?”

  Mayella was raging. “I don’t know how he done it, but he done it—I said it allhappened so fast I—”

  “Now let’s consider this calmly—” began Atticus, but Mr. Gilmer interrupted with anobjection: he was not irrelevant or immaterial, but Atticus was browbeating the witness.

  Judge Taylor laughed outright. “Oh sit down, Horace, he’s doing nothing of the sort. Ifanything, the witness’s browbeating Atticus.”

  Judge Taylor was the only person in the courtroom who laughed. Even the babieswere still, and I suddenly wondered if they had been smothered at their mothers’

  breasts.

  “Now,” said Atticus, “Miss Mayella, you’ve testified that the defendant choked and beatyou—you didn’t say that he sneaked up behind you and knocked you cold, but youturned around and there he was—” Atticus was back behind his table, and heemphasized his words by tapping his knuckles on it. “—do you wish to reconsider any ofyour testimony?”

  “You want me to say something that didn’t happen?”

  “No ma’am, I want you to say something that did happen. Tell us once more, please,what happened?”

  “I told’ja what happened.”

  “You testified that you turned around and there he was. He choked you then?”

  “Yes.”

  “Then he released your throat and hit you?”

  “I said he did.”

  “He blacked your left eye with his right fist?”

  “I ducked and it—it glanced, that’s what it did. I ducked and it glanced off.” Mayellahad finally seen the light.

  “You’re becoming suddenly clear on this point. A while ago you couldn’t remember toowell, could you?”

  “I said he hit me.”

  “All right. He choked you, he hit you, then he raped you, that right?”

  “It most certainly is.”

  “You’re a strong girl, what were you doing all the time, just standing there?”

  “I told’ja I hollered’n‘kicked’n’fought—”

  Atticus reached up and took off his glasses, turned his good right eye to the witness,and rained questions on her. Judge Taylor said, “One question at a time, Atticus. Givethe witness a chance to answer.”

  “All right, why didn’t you run?”

  “I tried…”

  “Tried to? What kept you from it?”

  “I—he slung me down. That’s what he did, he slung me down’n got on top of me.”

  “You were screaming all this time?”

  “I certainly was.”

  “Then why didn’t the other children hear you? Where were they? At the dump?”

  “Where were they?”

  No answer.

  “Why didn’t your screams make them come running? The dump’s closer than thewoods, isn’t it?”

  No answer.

  “Or didn’t you scream until you saw your father in the window? You didn’t think toscream until then, did you?”

  No answer.

  “Did you scream first at your father instead of at Tom Robinson? Was that it?”

  No answer.

  “Who beat you up? Tom Robinson or your father?”

  No answer.

  “What did your father see in the window, the crime of rape or the best defense to it?

  Why don’t you tell the truth, child, didn’t Bob Ewell beat you up?”

  When Atticus turned away from Mayella he looked like his stomach hurt, but Mayella’sface was a mixture of terror and fury. Atticus sat down wearily and polished his glasseswith his handkerchief.

  Suddenly Mayella became articulate. “I got somethin‘ to say,” she said.

  Atticus raised his head. “Do you want to tell us what happened?”

  But she did not hear the compassion in his invitation. “I got somethin‘ to say an’ then Iain’t gonna say no more. That nigger yonder took advantage of me an‘ if you fine fancygentlemen don’t wanta do nothin’ about it then you’re all yellow stinkin‘ cowards, stinkin’

  cowards, the lot of you. Your fancy airs don’t come to nothin‘—your ma’amin’ and MissMayellerin‘ don’t come to nothin’, Mr. Finch—”

  Then she burst into real tears. Her shoulders shook with angry sobs. She was as goodas her word. She answered no more questions, even when Mr. Gilmer tried to get herback on the track. I guess if she hadn’t been so poor and ignorant, Judge Taylor wouldhave put her under the jail for the contempt she had shown everybody in the courtroom.

  Somehow, Atticus had hit her hard in a way that was not clear to me, but it gave him nopleasure to do so. He sat with his head down, and I never saw anybody glare at anyonewith the hatred Mayella showed when she left the stand and walked by Atticus’s table.

  When Mr. Gilmer told Judge Taylor that the state rested, Judge Taylor said, “It’s timewe all did. We’ll take ten minutes.”

  Atticus and Mr. Gilmer met in front of the bench and whispered, then they left thecourtroom by a door behind the witness stand, which was a signal for us all to stretch. Idiscovered that I had been sitting on the edge of the long bench, and I was somewhatnumb. Jem got up and yawned, Dill did likewise, and Reverend Sykes wiped his face onhis hat. The temperature was an easy ninety, he said.

  Mr. Braxton Underwood, who had been sitting quietly in a chair reserved for the Press,soaking up testimony with his sponge of a brain, allowed his bitter eyes to rove over thecolored balcony, and they met mine. He gave a snort and looked away.

  “Jem,” I said, “Mr. Underwood’s seen us.”

  “That’s okay. He won’t tell Atticus, he’ll just put it on the social side of the Tribune.”

  Jem turned back to Dill, explaining, I suppose, the finer points of the trial to him, but Iwondered what they were. There had been no lengthy debates between Atticus and Mr.

  Gilmer on any points; Mr. Gilmer seemed to be prosecuting almost reluctantly;witnesses had been led by the nose as asses are, with few objections. But Atticus hadonce told us that in Judge Taylor’s court any lawyer who was a strict constructionist onevidence usually wound up receiving strict instructions from the bench. He distilled thisfor me to mean that Judge Taylor might look lazy and operate in his sleep, but he wasseldom reversed, and that was the proof of the pudding. Atticus said he was a goodjudge.

  Presently Judge Taylor returned and climbed into his swivel chair. He took a cigarfrom his vest pocket and examined it thoughtfully. I punched Dill. Having passed thejudge’s inspection, the cigar suffered a vicious bite. “We come down sometimes towatch him,” I explained. “It’s gonna take him the rest of the afternoon, now. You watch.”

  Unaware of public scrutiny from above, Judge Taylor disposed of the severed end bypropelling it expertly to his lips and saying, “Fhluck!” He hit a spittoon so squarely wecould hear it slosh. “Bet he was hell with a spitball,” murmured Dill.

  As a rule, a recess meant a general exodus, but today people weren’t moving. Eventhe Idlers who had failed to shame younger men from their seats had remained standingalong the walls. I guess Mr. Heck Tate had reserved the county toilet for court officials.

  Atticus and Mr. Gilmer returned, and Judge Taylor looked at his watch. “It’s gettin‘ onto four,” he said, which was intriguing, as the courthouse clock must have struck thehour at least twice. I had not heard it or felt its vibrations.

  “Shall we try to wind up this afternoon?” asked Judge Taylor. “How ‘bout it, Atticus?”

  “I think we can,” said Atticus.

  “How many witnesses you got?”

  “One.”

  “Well, call him.”

有人又发出低沉的声音。“梅耶拉?维奥莱特?尤厄尔……!”?一个年轻女子走上了证人席。她举手宣誓说,她将要提供的证词是真实的,全是真的,只是真的,她敢对天发誓。她这时看上去有一点儿缺少力量,但她在面对我们的证人席椅子上坐下时,她又恢复常态了。她是一个身子结实,惯于劳动的姑娘。
在梅科姆县,很容易看出谁经常洗澡,谁一年才洗一两次。尤厄尔先生看上去象是刚刚烫冼过,仿佛一个晚上的浸泡剥去了身上的污垢构成的保护层。他的皮肤看上去对自然环境很敏感。而梅耶拉看上去很爱干净,使我想起了尤厄尔院子里那一行红色的天竺葵。
吉尔默先生请梅耶拉老老实实地给陪市团说说去年11月21日晚上发生的事:要老老实实地说。他又说一声。
梅耶拉坐着不开口。
“那天黄昏你在什么地方?”吉尔默先生耐心地问。
。在走廊上。”
。哪个走廊?”
“只有一个,就是前面的走廊。”
“你在走廊上千什么?”
“什么也没干。”
泰勒法官说道:“把发生的事情说~说就行了。这点你做得到,是吗?”
梅耶拉用眼瞪着他,泪水滚了出来。她用手捂住了嘴抽泣着。泰勒法官让她哭了一阵,接着说:“别哭了。在这儿谁也别怕,只要你说的是真话。我知道,你不习惯这些,不过你没什么可害臊的,也没什么可害怕的。怕什么昵?”
梅耶拉捂着嘴说了点什么。“你说什么?”法官问。
“泊他,”她一边哭一边用手指着阿迪克斯。
“芬奇先生吗?”
她使劲点头,说:“别让他象对待爸爸那样对待我,他企图证明爸爸是左撇子……”
泰勒法官抓着他浓密的白发。很明显,他从投碰到过这类问题。“你多大了?”他问道。
“十九岁半。”
泰勒法官清了清嗓子,想用一种柔和的语气说话,但又没有这么说。“芬奇先生没想吓唬你。”他咆哮道,“要是他敢吓唬你,还有我在这儿呢,我不会允许他那样干的。这就是我坐在这儿的职责。你已经是大姑娘了,好好地坐着,给我们说说——说说你遭遇的事。这点你做得到,是吗?”
我悄悄地对杰姆说;“她脑瓜子是不足正常?”
杰姆对下面的证人席乜斜着两眼。“还说不上,”他说,“她脑瓜子清楚得够使法官为她难过。不过,她也许只是……哦,我不知道。”
梅耶拉平静了,又对阿迪克斯惊恐地看了一眼,然后对吉尔默先生说道:“好,先生。我正在走廊上,这时……这时他过来了。这时,您知道,那旧衣柜在院子里,爸爸捡来准备劈成引火柴……爸爸叫我在他去林子里时干这件活。但我觉得自己不太舒服,这时,他正好过来了……”
“他’是谁?”
梅耶拉用手指着汤姆-鲁宾逊。“我不得不请你说得更具体一些。”吉尔默说,“记录员可记不准手势。”
“那边的那个,”她说,“鲁宾逊。”
“那么出了什么事?”
“我说,过来,黑鬼,替我劈碎这个衣柜,我给你五分钱。他干这活是容易得很的,容易得很。所以他进了院予,我进屋去给他拿钱。我转过身还没弄清怎么回事,他就扑上来r。是在我身后扑过来的。他掐我的脖子,骂我,还说脏话……我又打又喊。但是他掐住我的脖子,打我,一下又一下……”
吉尔默先生等着梅耶拉镇定下来:梅耶拉把一块手绢拧成了一条给汗湿透了的绳子。她打开来擦脸时,已被她发烫的手弄得皱皱巴巴的。她等吉尔默先生问另一个问题,见他没问,便又说:“……他把我摔到地上掐我,欺侮了我。”
“你叫喊了吗?”吉尔默先生问,“你叫喊了吗?还手了吗?”
“我想是的,我拼命地叫,用脚踢,使劲喊。”
“后来怎么样了?”
“我记不太清楚了,但我知道的下一件事是,爸爸已经在屋子里头,弯着身子喊是谁干的,是谁干的。我后来有点儿不清醒了,再接下来就只知道塔特先生扶我站起来,领我到了水桶跟前。”
看得出来,梅耶拉的话使她自信起来,但不象她爸爸那样粗蛮。她的自信里有一种隐秘韵东西,就象是一只目光呆滞的猫,身后藏着一条颤动的尾巴。
“你说你尽最大的力气回了手?拼命地和他斗了?”吉尔默先生问。
“我肯定这样做了。”梅耶拉学着她爸爸的腔。
“你肯定他真的欺侮了你吗?”
梅耶拉的脸一下扭歪了,我担心她又会哭起来。但她说道:“他干成了想干的事。”
吉尔默先生在头上擦了一把,人们这才记起了炎热的气侯。“我暂时就问这些,”他温存地说。“不过你别走,我估计芬奇先生这个大坏蛋有话要问你。”
“起诉一方不得使证人对被告一方产生成见,”泰勒法官严肃地说,“至少在这个时候不允许。”
阿迪克斯笑着站起来,但没往证人席那边走。他解开外农,把大拇指插进背心,慢慢地走过大厅,到了窗子前面。他看着外面,却并不显得对看到的东西有特别的兴趣。接着,他转过身,踱回到证人席前。多年的经验告诉我,他正在对什么事作出决定。
“梅耶拉小姐,”他面带笑容地说,“这会儿我不会吓唬你,暂时还不会,我们互相了解一下好吗?你多大了?”
“说过我十九岁了,对那边的法官说过的。”梅耶拉气冲冲地把头向审判席一甩。
“你说过,你说过,小姐。你对我要耐心一点儿,梅耶拉小姐。我老起来了,记性不如以前了。我可能会问你已经回答过的问题,不过你还是愿意回答我的,对不对?这就好。”
梅耶拉的表情里没有任何东西能证明阿迪克斯作出的假设是正确的:她没有一点愿意合作的表示。她正满脸怒气地望着他。
“只要你还在挖苦我,我就一个字也不回答。”她说。
“小姐?”阿迪克斯吃惊地问了一声。
“只要你还跟我开玩笑。”
泰勒法官说:“芬奇先生没有跟你开玩笑。你怎么啦?”
梅耶拉垂着眼皮看了阿迪克斯一眼,却对着法官说:“只要他还叫我小姐,叫梅耶拉小姐。我无须听他的粗鲁的话,我来这儿不是听这些话的。”
阿迪克斯又向窗口走去,让泰勒法官处理这个问题。泰勒法官不是耶种叫人可怜的人物,但在他企图作出解释时,我真动了怜悯之心。“那不过是芬奇先生的习惯,”他告诉梅耶拉,“我们在这个法庭里一起办公已好多好多年了。芬奇先生对每个人都彬彬有礼。他不是想挖苦你,他只是想对你表示札貌。这只是他的习惯罢了。”
法官往后一靠说,“阿迪克斯,咱们继续审下去吧,让记录表明证人并没有受到粗鲁的待遇,而是跟她的看法正相反。”
我真想知道她这一辈子有没有人叫过她“小姐”或是“梅耶拉小姐”,可能没有,因为她对这种通常的礼节都要见怪。她的生活究竟是什么样儿?我立刻就知道了。
“你说你十九岁半了,”阿迪克斯又开口了,‘你有几个兄弟姐妹?”他从窗前回到了证人席。
“七个,”她回答。我不知道他们是否都跟我头一天上学看到的那一位一样。
“你是最大的?年纪最大的?”
“是。”
“你妈妈死了多久了?”
“不知道……很久了。”
“你上过学吗?”
“和坐在那边的爸爸一样能读书写字。”
梅耶拉听起来就象我在一本书里读到过的没受过什么教育的金格尔先生。
“你念了几年书?”
。两年……三年……不知道。”
我一点一点地,但越来越清楚地开始看出阿迪克斯这样提问的用意。从吉尔默先生认为离题和没有意义而表示反对的问题起,阿迪克斯正悄悄地在陪审团的眼前把尤厄尔家的生活构成一个画面。陪审团了解到下边一些情况:靠救济金她家吃不饱,人们非常怀疑是尤厄尔先生喝酒把救济金喝光了……他有时一连几天在沼泽地里,回来就病倒了;天气很少冷到需要鞋子,就是天气真的冷了,他也可以用破轮胎制出上等的高级鞋来;这个家用桶从垃圾场的一头冒出的泉水里挑水——他们把泉水附近的垃圾清理干净了——说到爱干净则各人随各人的便:要想洗什么你就自己担自己的水}年纪小点儿的孩子终年感冒,而且患有难治的皮肤病。有个女人不时到她家附近来,问梅耶拉为什么不继续念书——她把答案写给了她:家里有两个人能读书写字,不需要其他人去学习了——她爸爸需要他们留在家里。
“梅耶拉小姐,”阿迪克斯不由自主地问道,“象你这样十九岁的姑娘一定有些朋友。哪些人是你的朋友?”
证人皱起眉头,好象不明白这话的意思。“朋友?”
“对,你不认识任何跟你年纪差不多的人?或者比你大,或者比你小,小伙子或姑娘。连普通朋友都设有吗?”
梅耶拉的敌对情绪,本来已经平息到勉强过得去的程度,但这时又发作了。
“你又在开我的玩笑,芬奇先生?”
阿迪克斯把她问的这句话作为对他的回答了。
“你爱你爸爸吗,梅耶拉小姐?’这是他的下一个问题。
“爱他?你这是什么意思?”
“我的意思是,他待你好吗?他容易相处吗?”
“还可以,除了在……”
“除了在什么时候?”
梅耶拉向她爸爸看了一眼,她爸爸原来让椅子斜靠着栏杆坐着,这时坐正了,等着她回答。
“什么时候也不除,我说了他还可以。”
尤厄尔先生又靠了F去。
“除了他喝酒的时候?”阿迪克斯问得十分柔和,梅耶拉点了点头。
“他对你有过什么吗?’
“你指的什么事?”
“在他……在他发火时,打过你没有?”
梅耶拉向周围望了一望,往下望着法庭记录员,再往上望着法官。“回答这个问题,梅耶拉小姐。”泰勒法官说。
“我爸爸从没打过我,头发都没碰过我一根,”她毫不含糊地声明,“他从来没碰过我。”
阿迪克斯的眼镜滑下来一点,他重新把它推上鼻梁。“我们了解得很不错,梅耶拉小姐。我看现在最好回到本案来。你说你叫汤姆?鲁宾逊过来劈——劈什么来着?”
“衣柜,就是那种有一边全是抽屉的旧衣柜。”
“你和汤姆?鲁宾逊过去就很熟悉吗?”‘
“你这是什么意思?”
“我的意思是你知不知道他是谁?住在哪儿?”
梅耶拉点点头:“我知道他是谁,他每天从我家门前过。”
“这是你第一次叫他进院子吗?”
梅耶拉听到这话微微一惊。象刚才一样,阿迪克斯又慢慢地朝窗前走去。他有时问一句便朝外看着等待回答。他没看到梅耶拉不由自主地一惊,但我觉得他知道她动了一下。他转过身,把眉毛一扬。“是……”他又问起来了。
“是的,是第一次。”
“你以前叫他进过院子吗?”
这回,她已有了准备;“没有,肯定没有。”
“说一个没有就够了,”阿迪克斯平静地说,“你以前从没叫他给你干过零活?”
“也许叫过,”梅耶拉让了步。“附近有好几个黑人。”
“你能记得任何别的次数吗?”
“记不起。”
“好了,现在谈那件事的本身。你说过你转身时,汤姆?鲁宾逊早进了屋,就在你后面,是那样吗?”
“是的。’
“你说过他掐你的脖子,骂你,说脏话……是那样吗?”
“是那样。”
阿迪克斯的记忆一下予清清楚楚了。“你说‘他抓住我,骂我,欺侮了我……’是那样吗?”
“我是这样说的。”
“你记得他打了你的脸吗?”
证人犹豫了。
“你好象十分肯定他掐了你的脖子。你一直在还手,记得吗?你‘用脚踢,尽量地大声喊了’。你记不记得他打了你的脸?”
梅耶拉不说话了。她好象是在想让自己先把事情弄明白。有一会儿工夫,我猜她也是在玩赫克?塔特先生和我玩过的把戏;想象前面有个什么人。她望了吉尔默先生一眼。
“这个问题并不准,好回答得很,梅耶拉小姐。所以我再问你一遍,你记不记得他打了你的脸?”阿迪克斯的声音听起来不如以前那么令人舒服了,是一种他的职业所具有的呆板而冷漠的语气。“你记得他打过你的脸吗?”
“不,我同想不起他是否打了我。我是说回想起来,他是打了我,他打了我。”
“你的回答是最后那一句话吗?”
“啊?对,他打了我——我想不起,我真想不起……事情发生得那么快。”
泰勒法官严厉地望着梅耶拉。“你别哭,姑娘……”他还要说下去。但阿迪克斯接过话头,“她想哭就让她哭肥,法官。我们有的是时间。”
梅耶拉气呼呼地吸着鼻子,望着阿迪克斯。“你问什么我就答什么——把我弄来嘲笑,是不是?你间什么问题我就答什么……”
“那样就好,”阿迪克斯说。。只有几个问题了。梅耶拉小姐,我不说废话,你已经作证说被告打了你,掐了你的脖子,款侮了你。我想叫你肯定一下你没有弄错人。你认得出强奸你的人吗?”
“能,就是他,在那儿。”
阿迪克斯向被告转过身。“汤姆,站起来,叫梅耶拉小姐把你看个清楚。是这个人吗,梅耶拉小姐?”
汤姆?鲁宾逊有力的肩头在衬衣下一起一伏。他站起来,用右手扶着椅子背,样子很怪,似乎站不稳。但这并不是他站的姿势造成的。他的左臂比右臂足足短了十二英寸,垂在一边,臂端是一只萎缩的小手,就是从楼座看台这么远的地方看去,我也能看出那只手什么也干不了。
“斯各特,”杰姆低声对我说,“斯各特,看!牧师,他是个残废!”
赛克斯牧师俯过身来,越过我对杰姆低声说:“他的手卷进了轧棉机,卷进了多尔佛斯?雷蒙德先生的轧棉机。那时他还是个孩子……血简直要流光了……肌肉全从骨头上扯了下来……”
阿迪克斯说:。是这个人强奸了你吗?”
“当然,肯定是。”
阿迪克斯的下一个问题简单得只有一个词:“怎样?”
梅耶拉发火了。“他怎样干的我不知道,但他是千了的——我说过事情发生得太快了,我……”
“那么现在,咱们冷静下来考虑一下这事吧……”阿迪克斯刚开始说,吉尔默先生就提出反对意见打断了他,他没说阿迪克斯说得离了题或者说得没有意义,而是说阿迪克斯在威胁证人。
听了这话,泰勒法官爽朗地笑起来了,“我说,坐下来,霍勒斯?吉尔默。他可没干那种事。如果这审判厅里有谁威胁谁的话,倒是证人在威胁阿迪克斯。”
整个大厅里,只有泰勒法官一个人在笑。连里面的婴儿也寂然无声,我忽然想到,他们是不是在他们妈妈的怀里憋死了。
“听着,”阿迪克斯说,“梅耶拉小姐,你作证说被告掐住你,打你——你没说他从背后悄悄走过来把你打昏,而是你转过身就看到他在面前……”阿迪克斯回到了桌子后头,用指关节在上面敲着以加重说话的分量,“……你愿对自己的证词重新考虑吗?”
“你想叫我说没有的事吗?”
“不,小姐,我想叫你说确确实实发生了的事。请再一次告诉我们,是怎么一回事。”
“我早告诉了你是怎么一回事。”
“你说你转身就看到他在跟前,然后就说他掐你的脖子?”
“是酌。”
“接着,他放开了你的脖子开始打你?”
“我是这样说的。”
“他用右手打青了你的左眼?”
“我低头躲过了——拳头落空了,就是这么一回事。我低头一躲,拳头打在一边了。”梅耶拉最后明白过来了。
。在这点上你一下子就明白过来了。不久前你还记不太清楚,是不是?”
“我早说过他打了我。”
“好了。他掐了你的脖子,也打了你,接着强奸了你,是不是?”
“当然,肯定是。”
“你是个有力气的姑娘,那一阵你在干什么,光站在那儿吗?’
“我告诉你我大声喊了,用脚踢了,跟他对打了……”
阿迪克斯摘下眼镜,用他看得见的右眼盯着证人,一口气象放连珠炮似的问她一连串问题。泰勒法官说;“一个一个来,阿迪克斯。给证人回答的机会。”
“好。你为什么不跑开?”
“我想要……”
“想要?为什么没有呢?”
“我……他把我摔倒了。他把我掉倒后就把我压在身子下。”
“你一直在喊叫?”
“我当然在喊。”
“那么为什么其他孩子没听到你喊?他们在哪儿?在垃圾场吗?”
没有回答。
“他们到底在哪儿?”
“你的喊叫为什么没使他们跑过来?垃圾场比树林子近,对不对?”
没有回答。
“或者说,你直到在窗口看见了爸爸才喊起来?你直到那时才想到要喊叫,是不是?”
没有回答。
“你是首先因为看见你爸爸而不是因为看见汤姆?鲁宾逊才叫喊的吧?是不是这样?”
没有回答。
“是谁打了你?汤姆?鲁宾逊,还是你爸爸?”
投有回答。
“你爸爸在窗口看到的是什么?强奸罪呢,还是恰好不是这么回事?你为什么不说话,孩子,鲍勃?尤厄尔打了你吗?”
阿迪克斯从梅耶拉身边走开时,看上去好象是胃病发作了,而梅耶拉的表情虽既有恐惧也有愤怒。阿迪克斯疲倦地坐下,用手绢擦起眼镜来。
梅耶托突然说起话来了:“我有话要说。”
阿迪克斯抬起头。“你想告诉我们到底是怎么回事吗?”
但是她没听出他的期待中的怜悯之情。“我有话说,说过就不再说了。那边那个黑鬼欺侮了我。如果你们这些高贵的绅士不处理的话,那么你们这批人就都是卑鄙的胆小鬼,申酃的胆小鬼。你们高贵的假派头没有一点儿用——叫我‘小姐’和‘梅耶拉小姐’那一套没有用,芬奇先生……”
接着,她真哭了起来,肩膀随着气愤的抽泣不停地耸着。她真的说到做到,再没回答问题了。就是吉尔默先生想让她重新开口也没用。我猜,要不是她又穷又无知的话,泰勒法官肯定会因为她藐视法庭所有的人而把她送进监狱。不知怎的,阿迪克斯用了一种我不明白的方法伤了她的心。但他自己也并不愿意这样做。他耷拉着脑袋坐着。我从没见过任何人盯着别人时象梅耶拉离开证人席从阿迪克斯桌前走过时限睛里射出的那种强烈的仇视。
吉尔默先生告诉泰勒法官起诉一方证据提完了时,法官说:“是大伙儿都休息的时候了,休息