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Chapter 25

       “Don’t do that, Scout. Set him out on the back steps.”

  “Jem, are you crazy?…”

  “I said set him out on the back steps.”

  Sighing, I scooped up the small creature, placed him on the bottom step and wentback to my cot. September had come, but not a trace of cool weather with it, and wewere still sleeping on the back screen porch. Lightning bugs were still about, the nightcrawlers and flying insects that beat against the screen the summer long had not gonewherever they go when autumn comes.

  A roly-poly had found his way inside the house; I reasoned that the tiny varmint hadcrawled up the steps and under the door. I was putting my book on the floor beside mycot when I saw him. The creatures are no more than an inch long, and when you touchthem they roll themselves into a tight gray ball.

  I lay on my stomach, reached down and poked him. He rolled up. Then, feeling safe, Isuppose, he slowly unrolled. He traveled a few inches on his hundred legs and Itouched him again. He rolled up. Feeling sleepy, I decided to end things. My hand wasgoing down on him when Jem spoke.

  Jem was scowling. It was probably a part of the stage he was going through, and Iwished he would hurry up and get through it. He was certainly never cruel to animals,but I had never known his charity to embrace the insect world.

  “Why couldn’t I mash him?” I asked.

  “Because they don’t bother you,” Jem answered in the darkness. He had turned outhis reading light.

  “Reckon you’re at the stage now where you don’t kill flies and mosquitoes now, Ireckon,” I said. “Lemme know when you change your mind. Tell you one thing, though, Iain’t gonna sit around and not scratch a redbug.”

  “Aw dry up,” he answered drowsily.

  Jem was the one who was getting more like a girl every day, not I. Comfortable, I layon my back and waited for sleep, and while waiting I thought of Dill. He had left us thefirst of the month with firm assurances that he would return the minute school was out—he guessed his folks had got the general idea that he liked to spend his summers inMaycomb. Miss Rachel took us with them in the taxi to Maycomb Junction, and Dillwaved to us from the train window until he was out of sight. He was not out of mind: Imissed him. The last two days of his time with us, Jem had taught him to swim—Taught him to swim. I was wide awake, remembering what Dill had told me.

  Barker’s Eddy is at the end of a dirt road off the Meridian highway about a mile fromtown. It is easy to catch a ride down the highway on a cotton wagon or from a passingmotorist, and the short walk to the creek is easy, but the prospect of walking all the wayback home at dusk, when the traffic is light, is tiresome, and swimmers are careful not tostay too late.

  According to Dill, he and Jem had just come to the highway when they saw Atticusdriving toward them. He looked like he had not seen them, so they both waved. Atticusfinally slowed down; when they caught up with him he said, “You’d better catch a rideback. I won’t be going home for a while.” Calpurnia was in the back seat. Jem protested,then pleaded, and Atticus said, “All right, you can come with us if you stay in the car.”

  On the way to Tom Robinson’s, Atticus told them what had happened.

  They turned off the highway, rode slowly by the dump and past the Ewell residence,down the narrow lane to the Negro cabins. Dill said a crowd of black children wereplaying marbles in Tom’s front yard. Atticus parked the car and got out. Calpurniafollowed him through the front gate.

  Dill heard him ask one of the children, “Where’s your mother, Sam?” and heard Samsay, “She down at Sis Stevens’s, Mr. Finch. Want me run fetch her?”

  Dill said Atticus looked uncertain, then he said yes, and Sam scampered off. “Go onwith your game, boys,” Atticus said to the children.

  A little girl came to the cabin door and stood looking at Atticus. Dill said her hair was awad of tiny stiff pigtails, each ending in a bright bow. She grinned from ear to ear andwalked toward our father, but she was too small to navigate the steps. Dill said Atticuswent to her, took off his hat, and offered her his finger. She grabbed it and he eased herdown the steps. Then he gave her to Calpurnia.

  Sam was trotting behind his mother when they came up. Dill said Helen said, “‘evenin’,Mr. Finch, won’t you have a seat?” But she didn’t say any more. Neither did Atticus.

  “Scout,” said Dill, “she just fell down in the dirt. Just fell down in the dirt, like a giantwith a big foot just came along and stepped on her. Just ump—” Dill’s fat foot hit theground. “Like you’d step on an ant.”

  Dill said Calpurnia and Atticus lifted Helen to her feet and half carried, half walked herto the cabin. They stayed inside a long time, and Atticus came out alone. When theydrove back by the dump, some of the Ewells hollered at them, but Dill didn’t catch whatthey said.

  Maycomb was interested by the news of Tom’s death for perhaps two days; two dayswas enough for the information to spread through the county. “Did you hear about?…No? Well, they say he was runnin‘ fit to beat lightnin’…” To Maycomb, Tom’s death wastypical. Typical of a nigger to cut and run. Typical of a nigger’s mentality to have no plan,no thought for the future, just run blind first chance he saw. Funny thing, Atticus Finchmight’ve got him off scot free, but wait—? Hell no. You know how they are. Easy come,easy go. Just shows you, that Robinson boy was legally married, they say he kepthimself clean, went to church and all that, but when it comes down to the line theveneer’s mighty thin. Nigger always comes out in ‘em.

  A few more details, enabling the listener to repeat his version in turn, then nothing totalk about until The Maycomb Tribune appeared the following Thursday. There was abrief obituary in the Colored News, but there was also an editorial.

  Mr. B. B. Underwood was at his most bitter, and he couldn’t have cared less whocanceled advertising and subscriptions. (But Maycomb didn’t play that way: Mr.

  Underwood could holler till he sweated and write whatever he wanted to, he’d still gethis advertising and subscriptions. If he wanted to make a fool of himself in his paper thatwas his business.) Mr. Underwood didn’t talk about miscarriages of justice, he waswriting so children could understand. Mr. Underwood simply figured it was a sin to killcripples, be they standing, sitting, or escaping. He likened Tom’s death to the senselessslaughter of songbirds by hunters and children, and Maycomb thought he was trying towrite an editorial poetical enough to be reprinted in The Montgomery Advertiser.

  How could this be so, I wondered, as I read Mr. Underwood’s editorial. Senselesskilling—Tom had been given due process of law to the day of his death; he had beentried openly and convicted by twelve good men and true; my father had fought for him allthe way. Then Mr. Underwood’s meaning became clear: Atticus had used every toolavailable to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men’s heartsAtticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouthand screamed.

  The name Ewell gave me a queasy feeling. Maycomb had lost no time in getting Mr.

  Ewell’s views on Tom’s demise and passing them along through that English Channel ofgossip, Miss Stephanie Crawford. Miss Stephanie told Aunt Alexandra in Jem’spresence (“Oh foot, he’s old enough to listen.”) that Mr. Ewell said it made one downand about two more to go. Jem told me not to be afraid, Mr. Ewell was more hot gasthan anything. Jem also told me that if I breathed a word to Atticus, if in any way I letAtticus know I knew, Jem would personally never speak to me again.

“别把它弄死,斯各特。把它放在后面的台阶上。”
“杰姆,你疯了吗?”
“我说了,把它放在后面的台阶上。”
我叹了一口气,拈起那只小生物,放在台阶的最低一级,回到床边。已经是九月了,可是天气没有一点转凉的征兆,晚上我们仍睡在屋后装有纱窗的走廊上。萤火虫仍然在四处闪烁着,夜间蠕动的爬虫和整个夏天都飞撞着纱窗的昆虫还没有隐退到它们秋天该去的地方。
在屋里发现了一条圆滚涔的小爬虫。我想它是爬上台阶再从门下爬进来的。我把书往床头地上放时发现了它。这种小家伙只有一英寸长,用手挨一下它会立即紧紧地缩成一个灰色的小球。
我俯卧在床上,伸手捅了它一下,那小虫立即缩成一个球。过了一会儿,我想它一定是感到平安无事了,又慢慢地展开身子,用它那成百只脚爬行了几英寸。我又捅了它一下,它又缩起来。我感到疲倦了,想把它弄死了事,我正要下手,杰姆开口了。
杰姆蹙着眉头,沉着脸。他这种表现可能是他正在经历的一个成长阶段。我希望他加把劲,赶快度过这个阶段。说来也是,他对动物从来就不狠心,不过我还不知道,他慈善得可以拥抱昆虫世界。
“为什么不能弄死它?”我问道。
“因为他没有打扰你。”杰姆在黑暗中回答。他早已关掉了台灯。
“我想,你是在经历着这么一个阶段,哪怕是苍蝇蚊子你都不忍心打死。”我说,“让我知道你什么时候不再这样啊。但我得跟你说,我才不会呆杲坐着连一个红甲虫都不抓一抓。”
“噢,别说了吧。”他带着睡意回答。
我和杰姆两人之闻,越来越象个丫头的是杰姆,而不是我。这会儿,我舒舒服服地仰卧在床上等待入睡,一边等一边又想起了迪尔。他是这个月一号走的。走时很有把握地对我们说,一放假他就立即回来——他猜想,他家里已经基本上形成了这么个概念,知道他喜欢在梅科姆度暑假。他走的那天,雷切尔小姐带着我们一块儿乘坐出租汽车到了梅科姆火车站,迪尔从车窗里向我们招手,直到从我们的视野中消失。可是他一直没有从我脑海里消失。我H于刻想念他,他跟我们一道度过的最后两天里,杰姆教他游泳……。
……教他游泳。我又没了睡意,因为我回想起迪尔告诉我的事情。巴克-埃迪河湾离城约莫一公里,在一条大道的尽头,这条大道是通往梅里迪安的公路的岔道,可以随便爬上一辆运棉花的马车,或者一辆过路的汽车到那里去。从公路到河湾的路程不远,走起来也容易。但是,在黄昏时分公路上车子很少的时候,乘不上车,从河湾一直走回来那就真够呛!『。所以,去游泳的人都注意不呆得太晚。
迪尔说,郴天,他和杰姆刚从河湾走上公路就看见阿迪克斯_丌着车朝他们驶来。阿迪克斯好象没看见他们,所以他俩一起挥手。阿迪克斯放慢速度停下车,他们跑上前去,阿迪克斯说:“你们最好另找一辆车回家,因为我这会儿不回去。叫÷尔珀尼亚坐在车的后排座位上。
杰姆先是反对,然后哀求,阿迪克斯说:“好吧,你们呆在车里不出来,我就带你们去。”
在去汤姆?鲁宾逊家的路上,阿迪克斯把发生的事情告诉了他们。
他们转弯离开公路,沿着垃圾场慢慢行驶,经过尤厄尔家,穿过狭窄的小巷来到黑人住宅区。迪尔说,一群黑孩子在汤姆家前面的院子里玩弹子游戏。阿迪克斯停车走出来,卡尔珀尼亚跟着他进了前门。
迪尔听见他问一个小孩:“萨姆,你妈妈呢?”又听见萨姆说:“她在史蒂文斯姐姐家里,芬奇先生,我去叫她来好吗?”
迪尔说,阿迪克斯看来有点犹豫不决,过了一会儿才说,“好的。”萨姆跑着去了。阿迪克斯对其他小孩说,“你们继续玩你们的吧,孩子们。”
一个小姑娘从小屋里出来,站在门口望着阿迪克斯。迪尔说,她的头发编成许多条硬邦邦的小辫子,每一条辫梢上有一只美丽的蝴蝶结。她向我们的爸爸走来,满面笑容,但是她太小,下不了门前的台阶。据迪尔说,阿迪克斯走过去,摘下帽子,伸出一个指头,这小姑娘抓住他的指头,让他引着慢慢走下台阶,然后他把她交给了卡尔珀尼亚。
萨姆小跑着跟着他妈妈一起来了。据迪尔说,海伦说:“晚上好,芬奇先生,坐一坐吧。”然后她再没说什么,阿迪克斯也没说什么。
“斯各特,”迪尔说,“她一下子倒在地上。倒在地上,好象有个巨人过来将一只大脚踏在她身上。就这么一下……”迪尔那胖墩墩的脚在地上跺了一下,“好象踩死一只蚂蚁一样。”
迪尔说,阿迪克斯和卡尔珀尼亚扶起海伦,半抬半搀地进了屋,他们在屋里果了很久,最后阿迪克斯一个人出来了。他们回家路过垃圾场时,尤厄尔家一些人对着他们狂喊乱叫,但迪尔没听清他们叫些什么。
汤姆之死,在大约两天内是梅科姆镇的谈话资料。两天就足够让这个消息传遍全县。“你听说了吗?……还没有?哦,他们说,他跑得比闪电还快……”对梅科姆来说,汤姆之死具有典型意义。汤姆是一个迅速逃跑的黑人典型,典型地表现了一个黑人的特点,没有打算,不顾后果,一有机会就盲目地逃跑。遗憾的是,阿迪克斯?芬奇本来有可能设法使他无罪获释,不过,要他等待?哼,他才不会呢。他们黑人,你还不知道吗?什么事情都不假思索。随随便便。这只不过表明,鲁宾逊虽然是正式结的婚,并能洁身自好,经常做礼拜;但是,说到底,这些都足表面现象。黑人的特性总是会暴露出来的。
还有一些详细的情况,听话者可以借此把事情转告别人。其余再没有什么新鲜事了。星期四出版了《梅科姆论坛报》,在黑人消息栏里登载了一篇简短的讣告,还有一篇社论。
安德伍德先生悲痛欲绝,不下于谁取消了广告,撤销了订阅。(不过,梅科姆并没有谁那么做,尽管安德伍德先生Ⅱ!喊到浑身出汗,尽管他想写什么就写什么,刊登广告、订阅报纸的人仍然有那么多。如果你想在报纸上嘲弄自已,那是他自己的事。)安德伍德先生只字未提什么审判不公平,他只是写得让孩子们都能懂得这件事。他只说,一个残废人,不管是站着、坐着还是企图逃跑,杀害他就是罪恶。他把汤姆的死比喻为猎入和小孩毫无意义的残杀唱歌的鸟。梅科姆人认为,他是想把社论写得富有诗意,希望连“蒙哥马利广告报》都能转载。
我一边读着安德伍德先生的社论,一边想。毫无意义的残杀?怎么能这样说呢?汤姆的案件直到他被枪杀为止都是按正当的法律程序处理的;审判是在法庭公开进行的,罪是十二个正直的人组成的陪审团判定的,我父亲还自始至终为争取他的释放作出了努力。想着想着,我恍然大悟,懂得了安德伍德先生的意思:尽管阿迪克斯想尽了自由人可以采用的一切办法搭救汤姆?鲁宾逊,但是,在人们心中的秘密法庭里,阿迪克斯则无话可辩。汤姆在梅耶拉?尤厄尔张嘴呼喊那一刹那就已经注定要被处死。
提及尤厄尔这个名字我就作呕。尤厄尔对于汤姆之死酌看法,梅科姆人一会儿就知遭了,并通过那道传播闲话的“英吉利海映”——斯蒂芬尼?克劳福德小姐张扬开去。斯蒂芬尼小姐当着杰姆的面(“哦,哼,他够大了。听着无妨”)告诉亚历山德拉姑妈,尤厄尔先生说,暂时死一个,以后还有一两个要死。杰姆叫我别害怕,尤厄尔先生只会瞎吹。杰姆还警告我说,要是我列阿迪克斯泄露一个字,要是我以任何方式让阿迪克斯知道我知道这件事,他,杰姆本人,就永远不会理睬我了。



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