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Chapter 23

       “I wish Bob Ewell wouldn’t chew tobacco,” was all Atticus said about it.

  According to Miss Stephanie Crawford, however, Atticus was leaving the post officewhen Mr. Ewell approached him, cursed him, spat on him, and threatened to kill him.

  Miss Stephanie (who, by the time she had told it twice was there and had seen it all—passing by from the Jitney Jungle, she was)—Miss Stephanie said Atticus didn’t bat aneye, just took out his handkerchief and wiped his face and stood there and let Mr. Ewellcall him names wild horses could not bring her to repeat. Mr. Ewell was a veteran of anobscure war; that plus Atticus’s peaceful reaction probably prompted him to inquire,“Too proud to fight, you nigger-lovin‘ bastard?” Miss Stephanie said Atticus said, “No,too old,” put his hands in his pockets and strolled on. Miss Stephanie said you had tohand it to Atticus Finch, he could be right dry sometimes.

  Jem and I didn’t think it entertaining.

  “After all, though,” I said, “he was the deadest shot in the county one time. He could—”

  “You know he wouldn’t carry a gun, Scout. He ain’t even got one—” said Jem. “Youknow he didn’t even have one down at the jail that night. He told me havin‘ a gunaround’s an invitation to somebody to shoot you.”

  “This is different,” I said. “We can ask him to borrow one.”

  We did, and he said, “Nonsense.”

  Dill was of the opinion that an appeal to Atticus’s better nature might work: after all, wewould starve if Mr. Ewell killed him, besides be raised exclusively by Aunt Alexandra,and we all knew the first thing she’d do before Atticus was under the ground good wouldbe to fire Calpurnia. Jem said it might work if I cried and flung a fit, being young and agirl. That didn’t work either. But when he noticed us dragging around the neighborhood,not eating, taking little interest in our normal pursuits, Atticus discovered how deeplyfrightened we were. He tempted Jem with a new football magazine one night; when hesaw Jem flip the pages and toss it aside, he said, “What’s bothering you, son?”

  Jem came to the point: “Mr. Ewell.”

  “What has happened?”

  “Nothing’s happened. We’re scared for you, and we think you oughta do somethingabout him.”

  Atticus smiled wryly. “Do what? Put him under a peace bond?”

  “When a man says he’s gonna get you, looks like he means it.”

  “He meant it when he said it,” said Atticus. “Jem, see if you can stand in Bob Ewell’sshoes a minute. I destroyed his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to beginwith. The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spittingin my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s somethingI’ll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I’d rather it be me than thathouseful of children out there. You understand?”

  Jem nodded.

  Aunt Alexandra entered the room as Atticus was saying, “We don’t have anything tofear from Bob Ewell, he got it all out of his system that morning.”

  “I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Atticus,” she said. “His kind’d do anything to pay off agrudge. You know how those people are.”

  “What on earth could Ewell do to me, sister?”

  “Something furtive,” Aunt Alexandra said. “You may count on that.”

  “Nobody has much chance to be furtive in Maycomb,” Atticus answered.

  After that, we were not afraid. Summer was melting away, and we made the most of it.

  Atticus assured us that nothing would happen to Tom Robinson until the higher courtreviewed his case, and that Tom had a good chance of going free, or at least of havinga new trial. He was at Enfield Prison Farm, seventy miles away in Chester County. Iasked Atticus if Tom’s wife and children were allowed to visit him, but Atticus said no.

  “If he loses his appeal,” I asked one evening, “what’ll happen to him?”

  “He’ll go to the chair,” said Atticus, “unless the Governor commutes his sentence. Nottime to worry yet, Scout. We’ve got a good chance.”

  Jem was sprawled on the sofa reading Popular Mechanics. He looked up. “It ain’tright. He didn’t kill anybody even if he was guilty. He didn’t take anybody’s life.”

  “You know rape’s a capital offense in Alabama,” said Atticus.

  “Yessir, but the jury didn’t have to give him death—if they wanted to they could’vegave him twenty years.”

  “Given,” said Atticus. “Tom Robinson’s a colored man, Jem. No jury in this part of theworld’s going to say, ‘We think you’re guilty, but not very,’ on a charge like that. It waseither a straight acquittal or nothing.”

  Jem was shaking his head. “I know it’s not right, but I can’t figure out what’s wrong—maybe rape shouldn’t be a capital offense…”

  Atticus dropped his newspaper beside his chair. He said he didn’t have any quarrelwith the rape statute, none what ever, but he did have deep misgivings when the stateasked for and the jury gave a death penalty on purely circumstantial evidence. Heglanced at me, saw I was listening, and made it easier. “—I mean, before a man issentenced to death for murder, say, there should be one or two eye-witnesses. Someone should be able to say, ‘Yes, I was there and saw him pull the trigger.’”

  “But lots of folks have been hung—hanged—on circumstantial evidence,” said Jem.

  “I know, and lots of ‘em probably deserved it, too—but in the absence of eye-witnesses there’s always a doubt, some times only the shadow of a doubt. The law says’reasonable doubt,‘ but I think a defendant’s entitled to the shadow of a doubt. There’salways the possibility, no matter how improbable, that he’s innocent.”

  “Then it all goes back to the jury, then. We oughta do away with juries.” Jem wasadamant.

  Atticus tried hard not to smile but couldn’t help it. “You’re rather hard on us, son. Ithink maybe there might be a better way. Change the law. Change it so that only judgeshave the power of fixing the penalty in capital cases.”

  “Then go up to Montgomery and change the law.”

  “You’d be surprised how hard that’d be. I won’t live to see the law changed, and if youlive to see it you’ll be an old man.”

  This was not good enough for Jem. “No sir, they oughta do away with juries. Hewasn’t guilty in the first place and they said he was.”

  “If you had been on that jury, son, and eleven other boys like you, Tom would be afree man,” said Atticus. “So far nothing in your life has interfered with your reasoningprocess. Those are twelve reasonable men in everyday life, Tom’s jury, but you sawsomething come between them and reason. You saw the same thing that night in frontof the jail. When that crew went away, they didn’t go as reasonable men, they wentbecause we were there. There’s something in our world that makes men lose theirheads—they couldn’t be fair if they tried. In our courts, when it’s a white man’s wordagainst a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the factsof life.”

  “Doesn’t make it right,” said Jem stolidly. He beat his fist softly on his knee. “You justcan’t convict a man on evidence like that—you can’t.”

  “You couldn’t, but they could and did. The older you grow the more of it you’ll see. Theone place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color ofthe rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.

  As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but letme tell you something and don’t you forget it—whenever a white man does that to ablack man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, thatwhite man is trash.”

  Atticus was speaking so quietly his last word crashed on our ears. I looked up, and hisface was vehement. “There’s nothing more sickening to me than a low-grade white manwho’ll take advantage of a Negro’s ignorance. Don’t fool yourselves—it’s all adding upand one of these days we’re going to pay the bill for it. I hope it’s not in you children’stime.”

  Jem was scratching his head. Suddenly his eyes widened. “Atticus,” he said, “whydon’t people like us and Miss Maudie ever sit on juries? You never see anybody fromMaycomb on a jury—they all come from out in the woods.”

  Atticus leaned back in his rocking-chair. For some reason he looked pleased withJem. “I was wondering when that’d occur to you,” he said. “There are lots of reasons.

  For one thing, Miss Maudie can’t serve on a jury because she’s a woman—”

  “You mean women in Alabama can’t—?” I was indignant.

  “I do. I guess it’s to protect our frail ladies from sordid cases like Tom’s. Besides,”

  Atticus grinned, “I doubt if we’d ever get a complete case tried—the ladies’d beinterrupting to ask questions.”

  Jem and I laughed. Miss Maudie on a jury would be impressive. I thought of old Mrs.

  Dubose in her wheelchair—“Stop that rapping, John Taylor, I want to ask this mansomething.” Perhaps our forefathers were wise.

  Atticus was saying, “With people like us—that’s our share of the bill. We generally getthe juries we deserve. Our stout Maycomb citizens aren’t interested, in the first place. Inthe second place, they’re afraid. Then, they’re—”

  “Afraid, why?” asked Jem.

  “Well, what if—say, Mr. Link Deas had to decide the amount of damages to award,say, Miss Maudie, when Miss Rachel ran over her with a car. Link wouldn’t like thethought of losing either lady’s business at his store, would he? So he tells Judge Taylorthat he can’t serve on the jury because he doesn’t have anybody to keep store for himwhile he’s gone. So Judge Taylor excuses him. Sometimes he excuses him wrathfully.”

  “What’d make him think either one of ‘em’d stop trading with him?” I asked.

  Jem said, “Miss Rachel would, Miss Maudie wouldn’t. But a jury’s vote’s secret,Atticus.”

  Our father chuckled. “You’ve many more miles to go, son. A jury’s vote’s supposed tobe secret. Serving on a jury forces a man to make up his mind and declare himselfabout something. Men don’t like to do that. Sometimes it’s unpleasant.”

  “Tom’s jury sho‘ made up its mind in a hurry,” Jem muttered.

  Atticus’s fingers went to his watchpocket. “No it didn’t,” he said, more to himself thanto us. “That was the one thing that made me think, well, this may be the shadow of abeginning. That jury took a few hours. An inevitable verdict, maybe, but usually it takes‘em just a few minutes. This time—” he broke off and looked at us. “You might like toknow that there was one fellow who took considerable wearing down—in the beginninghe was rarin’ for an outright acquittal.”

  “Who?” Jem was astonished.

  Atticus’s eyes twinkled. “It’s not for me to say, but I’ll tell you this much. He was one ofyour Old Sarum friends…”

  “One of the Cunninghams?” Jem yelped. “One of—I didn’t recognize any of ‘em…you’re jokin’.” He looked at Atticus from the corners of his eyes.

  “One of their connections. On a hunch, I didn’t strike him. Just on a hunch. Could’ve,but I didn’t.”

  “Golly Moses,” Jem said reverently. “One minute they’re tryin‘ to kill him and the nextthey’re tryin’ to turn him loose… I’ll never understand those folks as long as I live.”

  Atticus said you just had to know ‘em. He said the Cunninghams hadn’t taken anythingfrom or off of anybody since they migrated to the New World. He said the other thingabout them was, once you earned their respect they were for you tooth and nail. Atticussaid he had a feeling, nothing more than a suspicion, that they left the jail that night withconsiderable respect for the Finches. Then too, he said, it took a thunderbolt plusanother Cunningham to make one of them change his mind. “If we’d had two of thatcrowd, we’d’ve had a hung jury.”

  Jem said slowly, “You mean you actually put on the jury a man who wanted to kill youthe night before? How could you take such a risk, Atticus, how could you?”

  “When you analyze it, there was little risk. There’s no difference between one manwho’s going to convict and another man who’s going to convict, is there? There’s a faintdifference between a man who’s going to convict and a man who’s a little disturbed inhis mind, isn’t there? He was the only uncertainty on the whole list.”

  “What kin was that man to Mr. Walter Cunningham?” I asked.

  Atticus rose, stretched and yawned. It was not even our bedtime, but we knew hewanted a chance to read his newspaper. He picked it up, folded it, and tapped my head.

  “Let’s see now,” he droned to himself. “I’ve got it. Double first cousin.”

  “How can that be?”

  “Two sisters married two brothers. That’s all I’ll tell you—you figure it out.”

  I tortured myself and decided that if I married Jem and Dill had a sister whom hemarried our children would be double first cousins. “Gee minetti, Jem,” I said, whenAtticus had gone, “they’re funny folks. ‘d you hear that, Aunty?”

  Aunt Alexandra was hooking a rug and not watching us, but she was listening. She satin her chair with her workbasket beside it, her rug spread across her lap. Why ladieshooked woolen rugs on boiling nights never became clear to me.

  “I heard it,” she said.

  I remembered the distant disastrous occasion when I rushed to young WalterCunningham’s defense. Now I was glad I’d done it. “Soon’s school starts I’m gonna askWalter home to dinner,” I planned, having forgotten my private resolve to beat him upthe next time I saw him. “He can stay over sometimes after school, too. Atticus coulddrive him back to Old Sarum. Maybe he could spend the night with us sometime, okay,Jem?”

  “We’ll see about that,” Aunt Alexandra said, a declaration that with her was always athreat, never a promise. Surprised, I turned to her. “Why not, Aunty? They’re goodfolks.”

  She looked at me over her sewing glasses. “Jean Louise, there is no doubt in my mindthat they’re good folks. But they’re not our kind of folks.”

  Jem says, “She means they’re yappy, Scout.”

  “What’s a yap?”

  “Aw, tacky. They like fiddlin‘ and things like that.”

  “Well I do too—”

  “Don’t be silly, Jean Louise,” said Aunt Alexandra. “The thing is, you can scrub WalterCunningham till he shines, you can put him in shoes and a new suit, but he’ll never belike Jem. Besides, there’s a drinking streak in that family a mile wide. Finch womenaren’t interested in that sort of people.”

  “Aun-ty,” said Jem, “she ain’t nine yet.”

  “She may as well learn it now.”

  Aunt Alexandra had spoken. I was reminded vividly of the last time she had put herfoot down. I never knew why. It was when I was absorbed with plans to visit Calpurnia’shouse—I was curious, interested; I wanted to be her “company,” to see how she lived,who her friends were. I might as well have wanted to see the other side of the moon.

  This time the tactics were different, but Aunt Alexandra’s aim was the same. Perhapsthis was why she had come to live with us—to help us choose our friends. I would holdher off as long as I could: “If they’re good folks, then why can’t I be nice to Walter?”

  “I didn’t say not to be nice to him. You should be friendly and polite to him, you shouldbe gracious to everybody, dear. But you don’t have to invite him home.”

  “What if he was kin to us, Aunty?”

  “The fact is that he is not kin to us, but if he were, my answer would be the same.”

  “Aunty,” Jem spoke up, “Atticus says you can choose your friends but you sho‘ can’tchoose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ‘emor not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”

  “That’s your father all over again,” said Aunt Alexandra, “and I still say that JeanLouise will not invite Walter Cunningham to this house. If he were her double first cousinonce removed he would still not be received in this house unless he comes to seeAtticus on business. Now that is that.”

  She had said Indeed Not, but this time she would give her reasons: “But I want to playwith Walter, Aunty, why can’t I?”

  She took off her glasses and stared at me. “I’ll tell you why,” she said. “Because—he—is—trash, that’s why you can’t play with him. I’ll not have you around him, pickingup his habits and learning Lord-knows-what. You’re enough of a problem to your fatheras it is.”

  I don’t know what I would have done, but Jem stopped me. He caught me by theshoulders, put his arm around me, and led me sobbing in fury to his bedroom. Atticusheard us and poked his head around the door. “‘s all right, sir,” Jem said gruffly, “’s notanything.” Atticus went away.

  “Have a chew, Scout.” Jem dug into his pocket and extracted a Tootsie Roll. It took afew minutes to work the candy into a comfortable wad inside my jaw.

  Jem was rearranging the objects on his dresser. His hair stuck up behind and down infront, and I wondered if it would ever look like a man’s—maybe if he shaved it off andstarted over, his hair would grow back neatly in place. His eyebrows were becomingheavier, and I noticed a new slimness about his body. He was growing taller. When helooked around, he must have thought I would start crying again, for he said, “Show yousomething if you won’t tell anybody.” I said what. He unbuttoned his shirt, grinning shyly.

  “Well what?”

  “Well can’t you see it?”

  “Well no.”

  “Well it’s hair.”

  “Where?”

  “There. Right there.”

  He had been a comfort to me, so I said it looked lovely, but I didn’t see anything. “It’sreal nice, Jem.”

  “Under my arms, too,” he said. “Goin‘ out for football next year. Scout, don’t let Auntyaggravate you.”

  It seemed only yesterday that he was telling me not to aggravate Aunty.

  “You know she’s not used to girls,” said Jem, “leastways, not girls like you. She’strying to make you a lady. Can’t you take up sewin‘ or somethin’?”

  “Hell no. She doesn’t like me, that’s all there is to it, and I don’t care. It was her callin‘Walter Cunningham trash that got me goin’, Jem, not what she said about being aproblem to Atticus. We got that all straight one time, I asked him if I was a problem andhe said not much of one, at most one that he could always figure out, and not to worrymy head a second about botherin‘ him. Naw, it was Walter—that boy’s not trash, Jem.

  He ain’t like the Ewells.”

  Jem kicked off his shoes and swung his feet to the bed. He propped himself against apillow and switched on the reading light. “You know something, Scout? I’ve got it allfigured out, now. I’ve thought about it a lot lately and I’ve got it figured out. There’s fourkinds of folks in the world. There’s the ordinary kind like us and the neighbors, there’sthe kind like the Cunninghams out in the woods, the kind like the Ewells down at thedump, and the Negroes.”

  “What about the Chinese, and the Cajuns down yonder in Baldwin County?”

  “I mean in Maycomb County. The thing about it is, our kind of folks don’t like theCunninghams, the Cunninghams don’t like the Ewells, and the Ewells hate and despisethe colored folks.”

  I told Jem if that was so, then why didn’t Tom’s jury, made up of folks like theCunninghams, acquit Tom to spite the Ewells?“Jem waved my question away as being infantile.

  “You know,” he said, “I’ve seen Atticus pat his foot when there’s fiddlin‘ on the radio,and he loves pot liquor better’n any man I ever saw—”

  “Then that makes us like the Cunninghams,” I said. “I can’t see why Aunty—”

  “No, lemme finish—it does, but we’re still different somehow. Atticus said one time thereason Aunty’s so hipped on the family is because all we’ve got’s background and not adime to our names.”

  “Well Jem, I don’t know—Atticus told me one time that most of this Old Family stuff’sfoolishness because everybody’s family’s just as old as everybody else’s. I said did thatinclude the colored folks and Englishmen and he said yes.”

  “Background doesn’t mean Old Family,” said Jem. “I think it’s how long your family’sbeen readin‘ and writin’. Scout, I’ve studied this real hard and that’s the only reason Ican think of. Somewhere along when the Finches were in Egypt one of ‘em must havelearned a hieroglyphic or two and he taught his boy.” Jem laughed. “Imagine Auntybeing proud her great-grandaddy could read an’ write—ladies pick funny things to beproud of.”

  “Well I’m glad he could, or who’da taught Atticus and them, and if Atticus couldn’tread, you and me’d be in a fix. I don’t think that’s what background is, Jem.”

  “Well then, how do you explain why the Cunninghams are different? Mr. Walter canhardly sign his name, I’ve seen him. We’ve just been readin‘ and writin’ longer’n theyhave.”

  “No, everybody’s gotta learn, nobody’s born knowin‘. That Walter’s as smart as he canbe, he just gets held back sometimes because he has to stay out and help his daddy.

  Nothin’s wrong with him. Naw, Jem, I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

  Jem turned around and punched his pillow. When he settled back his face was cloudy.

  He was going into one of his declines, and I grew wary. His brows came together; hismouth became a thin line. He was silent for a while.

  “That’s what I thought, too,” he said at last, “when I was your age. If there’s just onekind of folks, why can’t they get along with each other? If they’re all alike, why do theygo out of their way to despise each other? Scout, I think I’m beginning to understandsomething. I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in thehouse all this time… it’s because he wants to stay inside.”

“但愿鲍勃?尤厄尔不再咀嚼烟丝。”对这桩事,阿迪克斯只说了这么一句。
据斯蒂芬尼?克劳福德小姐说,阿迪克斯从邮局出来时,尤厄尔先生逼近他,咒骂他,往他睑上吐唾沫,扬言要宰了他(斯蒂芬尼小姐这时已把这件事叙述了两遍)。她说,她从容格尔游艺室回来,恰巧路过那儿,全看见了。她说,阿迪克斯当时眼睛都没眨一下,只是掏出手绢抹一抹脸,站在那里任凭尤厄尔先生那种实在不堪重述的粗话咒骂他。尤厄尔先生自己是参加过一次人们不大知道的战争的退伍军人,加之阿迪克斯反应又那样平静,这就使得他更肆无忌惮地挑衅道:“怎么?高傲得不愿意应战?你这个为黑鬼帮腔的杂种!”斯蒂芬尼说,阿迪克斯只回答说:“不,是老得不能应战了。”说着,他将手揣进口袋,继续走他的路。斯蒂芬尼说,你不得不佩服阿迫克斯,他有时还很能若无其事地说出幽默话。
我和杰姆不觉得这是件有趣的事。
“但是,不管怎么说,”我}兑,“阿迪克斯过去是全县赫赫有名的神枪手,他能……”
“你知道,他不能随身带手枪,斯各特。其实他根本就没有枪。”杰姆说,“你知道,就是那天晚上在牢房前他身上也没有枪。他说,随身带枪就等于要别人向你自己开枪。”
“这次不同,”我说,“我们可以要他去借一枝。”
我们真跟他说了,可他要我们别胡说。
迪尔认为,想办法提出一个能打动他善良心地的要求可能会有用:不管怎么说,要是尤厄尔先生害死了他,我们就得挨饿,除非让亚历山德拉姑妈单独抚养我们;而且,我们都明白,不等阿迪克斯安葬好,她就会立即解雇卡尔珀尼亚。杰姆说,我年纪小,又是个女孩,要是我大哭大闹要性子,可能会起作用。其实那也不起作用。
但是,看见我们没精打采地在附近闲逛,既不想吃,也不热衷于我们的正常爱好,他知道我们惊恐到什么程度了。一天晚上,他给杰姆看一本新到的橄榄球杂志,想激起他的兴致。看见杰姆胡乱翻了几页就丢到一边时,他问道,“你怎么啦,孩子?”
杰姆直截了当地说:“尤厄尔先生。”
“出了什么事?”
“没出什么事。我们是为你担惊受怕。我们认为你应该对他采取点措施。”
阿迪克斯苦笑着说:“采取什么措施?用和平条约限制他?”
“一个人说要千掉你,看起来他很可能真有这种打算。”
“他说的时候是有这种打算的,”阿迪克斯说,“杰姆,你能不能站到尤厄尔先生那边想想。如果说他先前还有什么信用的话,在法庭上最后一点信用也被我毁掉了。他总要想办法出口怨气,他这种人就是这样。所以,如果他朝我脸上吐唾沫,扬言要宰了我,那就能够让梅耶拉?尤厄尔少挨一顿打,我倒十分愿意他这样做。他终究要找一个出气筒。既然这样,与其让他整他那一屡的孩子,不如让我来挨整。懂吗?”
杰姆点了点头。
阿迪克斯说:“鲍勃?尤厄尔没有什么值得我们怕的,那天早上他已把满腔怨气都发泄尽了。”
说这话时,亚历山德拉姑妈走进了屋子。
“这种事情我就不敢那么肯定。阿迪克斯,”她说,“他那种人报复起来什么事都于得出来。你知道他是什么样的人。”
“尤厄尔究竟能怎样来报复我,妹妹?”
“偷偷摸摸搞卑鄙勾当。”亚历山德拉姑妈说,“你等着瞧吧J”
“在梅科姆镇,谁也没法偷偷摸摸。”阿迪克斯回答说。
从那以后,我们不再害怕了。夏天渐渐过去,我们抓紧时间玩了个痛快。阿迪克斯要我们放心,说在上一级法庭审理这个案件以前,汤姆-鲁宾逊一定会平安无事;他还说,汤姆很可能被释放,至少也会重新审判。他现在呆在切斯特县恩菲尔德劳改农场,离这儿有七十英里。我问阿迪克斯,汤姆的妻室儿女能不能去看他,阿迪克斯说不能。
一天晚上我问他:“如果上诉被驳回来,汤姆会怎么样?”
阿迪克斯回答说:“会判处死刑,除非州长减刑。不过现在还不是担心的时候,斯各特。我们很有赢的希望。”
杰姆趴在沙发卜看《大众机械学》。他这会儿抬起头来说:“真不合理。即使有罪,他也没杀人啊!他并没有断遗过任何人的性命。”
“你知道,在亚拉巴马,强奸是要判处死刑的。”阿迪克斯说。
“我知道,爸爸。但是,陪审团不一定要刿处他死刑;他们愿意的话,可以只判二十年徒刑嘛。”杰姆讲到“判”字时犯了个语法错误。.
“你讲话要注意语法。”阿迪克斯说,“问题是,汤姆?鲁宾逊是个黑人。在世界上我们的这块地方,没有哪个陪审团会说:‘我们认为你有罪,但是罪不重。’这个案子只有两种结果,要么就干脆释放,要么就是死刑。”
杰姆摇着头。“我知道这不合理,但究竟错在那儿,我也弄不清。可能强奸不应看作死罪……”
阿迪克斯手中的报纸掉在椅子边。他说他对于有关强奸的法律条款毫无意见。但是,起诉一方只根据问接证据就请求对被告处以极刑,而陪审团也以此为依据定极刑,对于这一点,他感到深为不安。他瞥了我一眼,看见我也在听,就把话说得浅显一点:“我是说,要是一个人因谋杀而判死刑,必须有一两个目击者。必须有人证明说:‘是的,我当时在场,亲眼看见他扣动扳机。”
“但是很多人只根据间接证据就被判处了绞刑。”杰姆说。他说到。绞刑”时,又犯了个语法错误,但随即更正了。
“我知道,可能其中很多也确实是罪有应得。但是,没有目击者,疑惑总是有的,虽然有时只有一丁点儿疑惑。法律上允许判决时有‘合理的疑惑’,但我认为,这一丁点儿疑惑就应给被告某种权利。被告无辜,总有这种可能性,不管这种可能性是多么的靠不住。
“那么,一切的一切都有赖于陪审团了。我们应当废除陪审团制度。”杰姆说得很坚决。
阿迪克斯极力忍住笑,但还是忍不住地笑了。“你对我们真苛刻啊,孩子。我想,可能有一个比较好的办法,那就是修改法律,死刑只有法官才有权判处。”
“那么,就上蒙哥马利修改法律去吧。”
“修改法律有多难,你听了一定会吃惊。我这一辈子是看不到修改法律了,你这辈子即使看到了,你也将是老年人了。”
但是,这还不能使杰姆心悦诚服。“不,爸爸,应该废除陪审团。他根本就没有罪,但是陪审团硬说他有罪。”
“假若陪审团是由你和十一个象你这样的娃娃组成,汤姆就自由了。”阿迪克斯说,“到现在为止,在你的生活中,还没有什么来干扰你的推理。组成汤姆案件的陪审团的十二个陪审员在日常生活中足懂道理的人,但是在法庭上你看得出他们和道理之间存在一种什么东西。那天晚上在监狱门前,你看到了类似的情况。那帮人走时,不是因为他们讲道理,而是因为我们在那儿。在这个世界上,有一种东西可以使人丧失理智——即使他想公正也办不到。在我们的法庭上,如果是自人跟黑人打官司,自人毫无疑问会赢。这种现象是丑恶的,但是这是生活中的事实。”
“这样做并不说明合理。”杰姆不动声色地说。他用拳头轻敲着膝头。“不能凭那样的证据给一个人定罪啊——不能,绝对不能。”
“你不能,但他们能,并且这样干了。你年纪越大会理解得越深刻。法庭应该是保证一个人受到公平待遇的唯一场所,不管是个什么肤色的人。可是,人们却以一种特殊的方式把他们的怨恨带到陪审团席上。等弥再长大一些你就会看到,生活中每天都有白人欺骗黑人的事情发生。但是,我告诉你一点——这一点你永远不能忘记t作为一个自人,无论什么时候,无论他是什么人,无论他多么富有,无论他出身多么高贵,只要他欺骗黑人,他就是个败类。”
阿迪克斯说这些话时声音一直很柔和,但他说的最后一个词听起来最响。我抬头看他,发现他脸上表露出强烈的感情。“最令我厌恶韵事情莫过于一个下贱的白人利用黑人的无知欺侮他们。不要自欺欺人了,所有的事情会累积起来,有朝一日,我们会要付这笔帐的。我希望不会在你们这一代找你们算帐。”
杰姆搔着脑袋。他突然睁大眼睛。。阿迪克斯,为什么我们这样的人,还有莫迪小姐这样的人,不能当陪审员呢?从没看见梅科姆镇的人当陪审员——陪审员都是来自树林子里的人。”
阿迪克斯坐在摇椅上往后靠着。由于某种原因,他对杰姆很满意。“我一直在想,什么时候你才会提出这个问题。”他说,“这有多方面的原因。比方说,莫迪小姐不能当陪审员是因为她是女的……”
“你是说在亚拉巴马,女人不能……?”我顿时义愤填膺。
“是的。我想,这是为了保护我们的脆弱的女性,使她们不接触污秽的案件,比方说汤姆这种案件。除此以外,”阿迪克斯笑了笑接着说,“我怀疑,要是有妇女陪审员参加的话,我们是否能完成一次审判,因为女人总是会无休止地插嘴提问的。”
我和杰姆哈哈大笑。莫迪小姐当陪审团成员一定会给人留下深刻的印象。我想象老杜博斯太太坐在轮椅上高I儿{,“别老拿木锤敲个不停,约翰-泰勒,我想问这个人一个问题。”可能我们前人作出这样的规定是明智的。
阿迪克斯说:“在我们这样的人这儿——那是我们该付的帐啊。我们常常得到我们该得到的陪审团。我们这些倔强的梅科姆人,一来对这事不感兴趣;二来也有些害怕,三来……”
“害怕,为什么?”杰姆问道。
“呃,比方说,假如雷切尔小姐开车压伤了莫迪小姐,林克?迪斯先生不得不决定雷切尔小姐要付给莫迪小姐多少赔偿金,那就不知道该怎么办了。她们俩作为他商店的顾客,他一个也不想丢了生意,是吗?所以他对泰勒法官说,他不能参加陪审团,因为他一走开就没人帮忙照管商店。所以,尽管泰勒有时因此很气愤,却还是不再勉强他了。”
“他为什么要认为她们俩一定会有一个不会再买他店里的东西了呢?”我问道。
杰姆说:“雷切尔小姐会,但莫迪小姐不会。不过,陪审团的表决是秘密的啊,阿迫克斯。”
爸爸格格地笑了起来。“你要走的路程还长着呢,孩子。陪审团的表决不过是所谓的秘密。一个人当了陪审员,就不得不作出决定并明确表态,人们不喜欢干这样的事。干这样的事有时使人感到不是滋味。”
“那天汤姆这件案子的陪审团肯定是很匆忙地作出判决的。”杰姆嘀咕道。
阿迪克斯把手指伸向表袋。他说,“他们不是这样的。”他的话与其说是对我们说的,不如说是对他自己说的,“这件事是唯一使我深思的事,可能预示着一个良好的开端。那陪审团花了几个小时才作出判决。可能这是一个不可避免的判决,但是通常他们只要几分钟就作出决定的。这一次……”他停下来看着我们。“你们可能愿意知道,他们中有个人,别人好不容易才说服他一一开始时,他坚决主张释放汤姆。”
“潍啊?”杰姆感到非常惊讶。
阿迪克斯眨了眨眼睛。“不应该说出来,不过我告诉你们一点,他是你们的萨勒姆朋友之一。”
“坎宁安家的人?”杰姆叫了起来,“一个……啊,我没认出他们中的任何一个人……你在开玩笑。”他用跟角斜视着阿迪克斯。
“他家的一个亲戚。我凭一时的直觉,没有把他的名字从陪审员名单中删去。只是凭一时的直觉。我本来可以删去的,但没删。”
“天哪!”杰姆肃然起敬地说,“一会儿他们想杀死他,一会儿他们又想释放他……我一辈子也理解不了这些人。”
阿迪克斯说,我们必须理解他们。他说,坎宁安一家自从迁居新大陆以来,从不拿人家的东西;他们还有一个特点,一旦你博得他们的尊敬,他们就会竭尽全力地拥护你。阿迪克斯说,他有这么种感觉,或者仅仅是一种猜想,即那天晚上,那一帮人离去时,对我们一家已怀有相当的敬意。他又说,要想使坎宁安家族的人改变主意,除非天上打雷,再加上他们里面另一个人的苦苦劝说。要是陪审团里有两个那晚到监狱去的坎宁安家旅的人,绪审团就可能意『见分歧而作不出一致的判决了。
杰姆慢条斯理地说:“你是说,你竟然指定了一个前一天晚上还想杀你的人当陪审员?你怎么能担这样的风险?阿迪克斯,你怎么船这样呢?”
“分机一下你就知道我并没有担什么风险。两个都要去给被告定罪的人,没有什么差别,是吗?但是,一个要去给被告定罪的人和一个心里稍微感到不安的人却有一点儿差别,不是吗?他是整个名单上唯一说不准的人。”
“那人是沃尔特?坎宁安的什么亲戚?”我问道。
阿迪克斯站起来,仲伸懒腰打了个呵欠。时间还早,连我们睡觉的时间都还没到呢。不过,我们知道,他是想去看看报纸。他拾起报纸折叠起来,在我头上轻叩了儿下。“让我想一想,”他自言自语地说,“哦,知道了,是双重表兄弟。”
“怎么个双重法?”
“两姊妹嫁给两兄弟。好了,我就告诉你们这些,你们自己去弄清楚吧。”
我冥思苦想了好一会儿,最后断定,如果我与杰姆结婚,迪尔和他的妹妹结婚,那么,我们两家的孩子就是双重表兄弟了。“哎呀,杰姆,”阿迪克斯走后,我说,“他们是很奇怪的人,刚才你听见了吗,姑妈?”
亚历山德拉姑妈在钩织地毯,没有注视我们,不过耳朵还是在听。她坐在椅予上,椅子旁边放着针线篮,她钩的地毯铺在她的膝上。为什么女人们在酷热的夜晚钩织羊毛地毯,我始终弄不明白。
“听见了。”她说。
我想起了很久以前的一次灾难性的时刻。那时我毫不狁豫地为小沃尔特?坎宁安辩护。现在想起来,还为过去这么徼了而高兴。“一开学。我就要邀沃尔特来我们家吃饭。”我合计着说,把我暗自作过下次遇见他就要把他痛打一顿的决定忘到了脑后。“放学后,他有时也可以来玩玩,阿迪克斯可以开车进他回萨勒姆。他甚至可以在我们家过夜,是吗,杰姆?_,
“到时候我会留意的。”亚历山德拉姑妈说。这样一句话到了她口中总是一种威胁,而不是许诺。我吃惊地回头看着她。“难道不行吗,姑妈?他们是好人哪。”
她从她的眼镜框上面看着我。“琼?路易斯,我心里毫不怀疑他们是好人。但是他们跟我们不同。”
杰姆说;“斯备特,她是说他们是乡巴佬。”
“乡巴佬是什么意思?”
“噢,就是粗俗的人。他们喜欢玩弄土乐器啊什么的。”
“哎,我也同样啊……”
“别傻了。琼?路易斯。”亚历山德拉姑妈说,“问题是你可以把沃尔特?坎宁安擦得闪闪发光,你可以给他穿鞋子,穿新农,但是他永远不会象杰姆。加之,他们家有酗酒的癖性,个个贪杯,我们芬奇家的女人对那种人不感兴趣。”
“姑——妈,”杰姆说,。斯各特还不到九岁呢。”
“她现在就学一学也不妨。”
亚历山德拉姑妈没再说什么了。她上次是怎样坚决拒绝我的要求的,我当时记忆犹新,不过不知道究竟是什么原因。那时,我一心想去卡尔珀尼亚家——既感到好奇又感到有趣,想到她家去做“客”,去看看她是怎么生活的,有些什么样的朋友。我就是想看看月亮的背面也无妨啊。这一次,亚历山德拉姑妈采用的策略不同了,但目的仍是一样。可能这就是她来和我们住在一起的原因:帮我们选择朋友。只要可能,我诚尽可能不接近她。“既然他们是好人,为什么我不能友好地对待沃尔特呢?”
“我没有说不能对他好。你应该和他友好,对他有礼貌,对任何人都应该彬彬有礼,亲爱的。但是你犯不着邀他到家里来。”
“如果他是我们的亲戚呢,姑妈?”
“事实上他不是我们的亲戚}即使是,我也不让他来。”
“姑妈,”杰姆大声说,“阿迪克斯况了,朋友可以选择,但家庭是不能选择的。不管你承认不承认,是亲戚的总归是亲戚。不承认反而显得愚蠢。”
“又是你爸爸那一套,”亚历山德拉姑妈说,“我还是要说,琼?路易斯不能邀沃尔特?坎宁安到这个家里来。哪怕他们是双重表兄弟,他到这个家里来还是不会受欢迎的,除非是有事来找阿迪克斯。好,这件事情就这样吧。”
她过去总说就是不行。但这一次她倒愿意说出她的理由。
我说j“但是我想跟沃尔特玩,姑妈,为什么不行呢?”
她摘下眼镜瞪着我说:“告诉你为什么吧,因为他——是个——下贱的人。因此,你不能跟他玩。我不许你和他在一起学他的坏样,学些天知道的乌七八糟的东西。事实上你已经够使你爸爸伤脑筋了。”一
要是杰姆不拦住我,真不知我会干出什么来。他抓住我的双肩,搂住我把我带进他的卧室。我怒气冲天,抽泣不止。阿迪克斯听见了,从门外探头来看是怎么回事。“没什么,爸爸,”杰姆生硬地说,“没有发生任何事情。”阿迪克斯就没再管了。
。给你一点东西吃,斯各特。”杰姆伸手到口袋里拿出一块圆圆的巧克力糖。花了好几分钟我才把这块糖塑成一个舒适的形状含在嘴里。
杰姆在整理梳妆台上的东西。他的头发翘的往后翘,倒的往前倒,我怀疑他那头发到底会不会长得象一个男人的。如果他把头发剃光让它重新长,可能会长得熨熨帖帖。他的眉毛越长越浓了,我还注意到,他身子苗条些了,长高些了。
他转过身来时,一定以为我又会哭起来,因为他说:“给你看样东西,可别告诉别人。”我问他是什么。他解开衬衣钮扣,羞涩地咧开嘴笑。
“噢,是什么?”
“你看不见吗?”
“看不见。”
“哎,是毛啊I”
“在哪儿?”
“这儿,就在这儿。”
因为他刚才安慰了我,所以我i兑很好看。实际上我什么也没看到。“真好,杰姆。”
“腋窝里也有呢,”他说,“明年可以出去打橄榄球了。斯各特,别让姑妈把你搞恼了。”
昨天他好象还在要我别把姑妈搞恼了。
“你知道,她看不惯女孩子,”杰姆说,“至少是看不惯你这样的女孩子。她想让你变成一个有教养的女子。你不能学学缝纫什么的吗?”
“哎呀,我才不学呢。她不喜欢我,就是这么回事。我才不在乎呢。我发火是因为她说沃尔特?坎宁安是下贱的人,而不是因为她说我使阿迪克斯伤脑筋。有一次,我和阿迪克斯把这个问题说清楚了。我问他我是不是难以管教,他说不见得,再难也没难到使他伤脑筋的地步,他叫我丝毫不要怕打扰他。不,我生气是为了沃尔特——他不是下贱的人,杰姆。他可不象尤厄尔家的人。”
杰姆甥掉脚上的鞋子,把脚撩到床上。一头靠在枕头上,打开台灯。“你知道吗,斯各特?我已经理出个头绪来了.我最近反复思考,终于理出个头绪来了。世界上一共有四种人。象我们和我们的邻居这样的普通人,象坎宁安那样的住在树林里的人,象尤厄尔那样住在垃圾场上白勺人,还有黑人。”
“还有中国人呢?还有鲍德文县的凯琴人呢?。
“我是说在梅科姆县的范围内。现在的情况是:我们这种人不喜欢坎宁安这类人,坎宁安家的人不喜欢尤厄尔那样的人,尤厄尔家的人憎恨和蔑视黑人,”
我对杰姆说,“如果事情真是这样,由坎宁安这类人组成的陪审团为什么不释放汤姆来发泄对尤厄尔的怨恨呢?”
杰姆挥了挥手,表示我的问题太孩子气了。
“你知道,”他说,“收音机播放上乐器音乐时,我看见阿迪克斯用脚打拍子,他比我见过的任何人都喜欢喝自家酿的酒……”
“那样我们就象坎宁安家的人了。”我说,“我不理解为什么姑妈………
“哎,让我说完——是的,那是使我们象他们了,但是,我们终究跟他们不同。有一次,阿迪克斯说,姑妈之所以这样为这个家庭感到忧心忡忡,是由于我们所有的只是门第,除此以外一无所有。”
“唉,杰姆,我不知道……有一次阿迪克斯告诉我,有关最早的移民之类的东西大多数是毫无价值的,是荒谬的,因为每个人的家族都和其他人的家族一样古老。我问他黑人和英国人是不是也包括在内,他说是的,都包括在内。”
“门第并不等于古老的家族啊。”杰姆说,“我想,门第指的是你这个家族会念书会写字共有多久了。斯各特,这个问题我冥思苦想了好大一阵子.这是我想刭的唯一原因。芬奇这一家族在埃及时,家里的某个成员肯定学会了一两个象形文字,并教给了他的小孩。”杰姆笑了起来。“想一想吧,姑妈为她的曾祖父能读能写而感到自豪——女人们总是挑一些奇怪的事情来引以自豪。”
“暖,幸好那时侯有个人是这样做了,不然谁能教阿迪克斯和芬奇家其他的人呢?要是阿迪克斯不识字,你我两个就真糟了。不过,我想,门第不是指的这个,杰姆。”
“那么,你怎么解释坎宁安家与我们家的不同昵?我曾经看见,沃尔特先生几乎连自己的姓名部不会写。我们只不过比他们读书写字的时间长一些罢了。”
“不,每个人都要学了才会,没有人生来就会。沃尔特非常聪明,但他的聪明有时不能发挥,因为他经常要在家帮他爸爸干活。他没有什么不好。不,杰姆,我认为,人只有一种。就是人。”
杰姆转身捅了捅枕头。再靠下去时,他脸色显得有些阴沉。他的情绪又在低落下去,弄得我小心谨慎起来。他的眉毛蹙成一团,嘴巴变成了一条细缝。好大一会儿他都沉默营。
“我象你这么大时,”他最后说,“也是这样想的。如果人只有一种,为什么人与人之间不能很好地相魁呢?如果大家都一样,为什么他们要专门互相鄙视呢?斯各特,我想,我逐渐悟出了一个道理。我逐渐懂得了为什么布?拉德利总是把自己关在屋子里……那是因为他亭硌呆在屋子里。”



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