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Chapter 26

       School started, and so did our daily trips past the Radley Place. Jem was in theseventh grade and went to high school, beyond the grammar-school building; I was nowin the third grade, and our routines were so different I only walked to school with Jem inthe mornings and saw him at mealtimes. He went out for football, but was too slenderand too young yet to do anything but carry the team water buckets. This he did withenthusiasm; most afternoons he was seldom home before dark.

  The Radley Place had ceased to terrify me, but it was no less gloomy, no less chillyunder its great oaks, and no less uninviting. Mr. Nathan Radley could still be seen on aclear day, walking to and from town; we knew Boo was there, for the same old reason—nobody’d seen him carried out yet. I sometimes felt a twinge of remorse, when passingby the old place, at ever having taken part in what must have been sheer torment toArthur Radley—what reasonable recluse wants children peeping through his shutters,delivering greetings on the end of a fishing-pole, wandering in his collards at night? Andyet I remembered. Two Indian-head pennies, chewing gum, soap dolls, a rusty medal, abroken watch and chain. Jem must have put them away somewhere. I stopped andlooked at the tree one afternoon: the trunk was swelling around its cement patch. Thepatch itself was turning yellow.

  We had almost seen him a couple of times, a good enough score for anybody.

  But I still looked for him each time I went by. Maybe someday we would see him. Iimagined how it would be: when it happened, he’d just be sitting in the swing when Icame along. “Hidy do, Mr. Arthur,” I would say, as if I had said it every afternoon of mylife. “Evening, Jean Louise,” he would say, as if he had said it every afternoon of my life,“right pretty spell we’re having, isn’t it?” “Yes sir, right pretty,” I would say, and go on.

  It was only a fantasy. We would never see him. He probably did go out when themoon was down and gaze upon Miss Stephanie Crawford. I’d have picked somebodyelse to look at, but that was his business. He would never gaze at us.

  “You aren’t starting that again, are you?” said Atticus one night, when I expressed astray desire just to have one good look at Boo Radley before I died. “If you are, I’ll tellyou right now: stop it. I’m too old to go chasing you off the Radley property. Besides, it’sdangerous. You might get shot. You know Mr. Nathan shoots at every shadow he sees,even shadows that leave size-four bare footprints. You were lucky not to be killed.”

  I hushed then and there. At the same time I marveled at Atticus. This was the first hehad let us know he knew a lot more about something than we thought he knew. And ithad happened years ago. No, only last summer—no, summer before last, when… timewas playing tricks on me. I must remember to ask Jem.

  So many things had happened to us, Boo Radley was the least of our fears. Atticussaid he didn’t see how anything else could happen, that things had a way of settlingdown, and after enough time passed people would forget that Tom Robinson’sexistence was ever brought to their attention.

  Perhaps Atticus was right, but the events of the summer hung over us like smoke in aclosed room. The adults in Maycomb never discussed the case with Jem and me; itseemed that they discussed it with their children, and their attitude must have been thatneither of us could help having Atticus for a parent, so their children must be nice to usin spite of him. The children would never have thought that up for themselves: had ourclassmates been left to their own devices, Jem and I would have had several swift,satisfying fist-fights apiece and ended the matter for good. As it was, we were compelledto hold our heads high and be, respectively, a gentleman and a lady. In a way, it waslike the era of Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, without all her yelling. There was one oddthing, though, that I never understood: in spite of Atticus’s shortcomings as a parent,people were content to re-elect him to the state legislature that year, as usual, withoutopposition. I came to the conclusion that people were just peculiar, I withdrew fromthem, and never thought about them until I was forced to.

  I was forced to one day in school. Once a week, we had a Current Events period.

  Each child was supposed to clip an item from a newspaper, absorb its contents, andreveal them to the class. This practice allegedly overcame a variety of evils: standing infront of his fellows encouraged good posture and gave a child poise; delivering a shorttalk made him word-conscious; learning his current event strengthened his memory;being singled out made him more than ever anxious to return to the Group.

  The idea was profound, but as usual, in Maycomb it didn’t work very well. In the firstplace, few rural children had access to newspapers, so the burden of Current Eventswas borne by the town children, convincing the bus children more deeply that the townchildren got all the attention anyway. The rural children who could, usually broughtclippings from what they called The Grit Paper, a publication spurious in the eyes ofMiss Gates, our teacher. Why she frowned when a child recited from The Grit Paper Inever knew, but in some way it was associated with liking fiddling, eating syrupy biscuitsfor lunch, being a holy-roller, singing Sweetly Sings the Donkey and pronouncing itdunkey, all of which the state paid teachers to discourage.

  Even so, not many of the children knew what a Current Event was. Little Chuck Little,a hundred years old in his knowledge of cows and their habits, was halfway through anUncle Natchell story when Miss Gates stopped him: “Charles, that is not a current event.

  That is an advertisement.”

  Cecil Jacobs knew what one was, though. When his turn came, he went to the front ofthe room and began, “Old Hitler—”

  “Adolf Hitler, Cecil,” said Miss Gates. “One never begins with Old anybody.”

  “Yes ma’am,” he said. “Old Adolf Hitler has been prosecutin‘ the—”

  “Persecuting Cecil…”

  “Nome, Miss Gates, it says here—well anyway, old Adolf Hitler has been after theJews and he’s puttin‘ ’em in prisons and he’s taking away all their property and he won’tlet any of ‘em out of the country and he’s washin’ all the feeble-minded and—”

  “Washing the feeble-minded?”

  “Yes ma’am, Miss Gates, I reckon they don’t have sense enough to wash themselves,I don’t reckon an idiot could keep hisself clean. Well anyway, Hitler’s started a programto round up all the half-Jews too and he wants to register ‘em in case they might wantacause him any trouble and I think this is a bad thing and that’s my current event.”

  “Very good, Cecil,” said Miss Gates. Puffing, Cecil returned to his seat.

  A hand went up in the back of the room. “How can he do that?”

  “Who do what?” asked Miss Gates patiently.

  “I mean how can Hitler just put a lot of folks in a pen like that, looks like the govamint’dstop him,” said the owner of the hand.

  “Hitler is the government,” said Miss Gates, and seizing an opportunity to makeeducation dynamic, she went to the blackboard. She printed DEMOCRACY in largeletters. “Democracy,” she said. “Does anybody have a definition?”

  “Us,” somebody said.

  I raised my hand, remembering an old campaign slogan Atticus had once told meabout.

  “What do you think it means, Jean Louise?”

  “‘Equal rights for all, special privileges for none,’” I quoted.

  “Very good, Jean Louise, very good,” Miss Gates smiled. In front of DEMOCRACY,she printed WE ARE A. “Now class, say it all together, ‘We are a democracy.’”

  We said it. Then Miss Gates said, “That’s the difference between America andGermany. We are a democracy and Germany is a dictatorship. Dictator-ship,” she said.

  “Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from peoplewho are prejudiced. Prejudice,” she enunciated carefully. “There are no better people inthe world than the Jews, and why Hitler doesn’t think so is a mystery to me.”

  An inquiring soul in the middle of the room said, “Why don’t they like the Jews, youreckon, Miss Gates?”

  “I don’t know, Henry. They contribute to every society they live in, and most of all, theyare a deeply religious people. Hitler’s trying to do away with religion, so maybe hedoesn’t like them for that reason.”

  Cecil spoke up. “Well I don’t know for certain,” he said, “they’re supposed to changemoney or somethin‘, but that ain’t no cause to persecute ’em. They’re white, ain’t they?”

  Miss Gates said, “When you get to high school, Cecil, you’ll learn that the Jews havebeen persecuted since the beginning of history, even driven out of their own country. It’sone of the most terrible stories in history. Time for arithmetic, children.”

  As I had never liked arithmetic, I spent the period looking out the window. The onlytime I ever saw Atticus scowl was when Elmer Davis would give us the latest on Hitler.

  Atticus would snap off the radio and say, “Hmp!” I asked him once why he was impatientwith Hitler and Atticus said, “Because he’s a maniac.”

  This would not do, I mused, as the class proceeded with its sums. One maniac andmillions of German folks. Looked to me like they’d shut Hitler in a pen instead of lettinghim shut them up. There was something else wrong—I would ask my father about it.

  I did, and he said he could not possibly answer my question because he didn’t knowthe answer.

  “But it’s okay to hate Hitler?”

  “It is not,” he said. “It’s not okay to hate anybody.”

  “Atticus,” I said, “there’s somethin‘ I don’t understand. Miss Gates said it was awful,Hitler doin’ like he does, she got real red in the face about it—”

  “I should think she would.”

  “But—”

  “Yes?”

  “Nothing, sir.” I went away, not sure that I could explain to Atticus what was on mymind, not sure that I could clarify what was only a feeling. Perhaps Jem could providethe answer. Jem understood school things better than Atticus.

  Jem was worn out from a day’s water-carrying. There were at least twelve bananapeels on the floor by his bed, surrounding an empty milk bottle. “Whatcha stuffin‘ for?” Iasked.

  “Coach says if I can gain twenty-five pounds by year after next I can play,” he said.

  “This is the quickest way.”

  “If you don’t throw it all up. Jem,” I said, “I wanta ask you somethin‘.”

  “Shoot.” He put down his book and stretched his legs.

  “Miss Gates is a nice lady, ain’t she?”

  “Why sure,” said Jem. “I liked her when I was in her room.”

  “She hates Hitler a lot…”

  “What’s wrong with that?”

  “Well, she went on today about how bad it was him treatin‘ the Jews like that. Jem, it’snot right to persecute anybody, is it? I mean have mean thoughts about anybody, even,is it?”

  “Gracious no, Scout. What’s eatin‘ you?”

  “Well, coming out of the courthouse that night Miss Gates was—she was goin‘ downthe steps in front of us, you musta not seen her—she was talking with Miss StephanieCrawford. I heard her say it’s time somebody taught ’em a lesson, they were gettin‘ wayabove themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us. Jem, how canyou hate Hitler so bad an‘ then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home—”

  Jem was suddenly furious. He leaped off the bed, grabbed me by the collar and shookme. “I never wanta hear about that courthouse again, ever, ever, you hear me? Youhear me? Don’t you ever say one word to me about it again, you hear? Now go on!”

  I was too surprised to cry. I crept from Jem’s room and shut the door softly, lest unduenoise set him off again. Suddenly tired, I wanted Atticus. He was in the livingroom, and Iwent to him and tried to get in his lap.

  Atticus smiled. “You’re getting so big now, I’ll just have to hold a part of you.” He heldme close. “Scout,” he said softly, “don’t let Jem get you down. He’s having a rough timethese days. I heard you back there.”

  Atticus said that Jem was trying hard to forget something, but what he was reallydoing was storing it away for a while, until enough time passed. Then he would be ableto think about it and sort things out. When he was able to think about it, Jem would behimself again.

开学了,我们又象以前一样每天都经过拉德利家。杰姆上中学了,念的是七年级,中学就在我们小学后面。我现在是念三年级。我同杰姆的课程和活动迥然不同。我们只是每天早晨一同上学,其余就只能在吃饭时见面。他常跟着橄榄球队出去,但是年纪太轻,身材又太不魁梧,不能作什么事,只能为球队提水桶。但他千起来还挺带劲,几乎每天下午都要天黑以后才回家。
路过拉德利家时,我再也不怕了,不过,那地方仍旧象以前一样,在大橡树下阴森森的,冷冰冰的,总是那副不逗人喜欢的样子。天气晴朗时仍可碰见内森?拉德利先生,他有时进城去,有时从城里回来,我们知道布?拉德利仍在里面。为什么知道呢?还是那个老原由——还没有谁看见他被抬出去。经过那个老地方时,我有时感到一阵阵懊悔,悔不该曾参加恶作刷——那种恶作别对亚瑟?拉德静!先生柬说纯粹是一种折磨,因为哪一个神志清醒的隐居者会希望孩子们透过百叶窗去偷看他的行动,在钓竿末端粘上纸条伸进去,并在他的甘蓝地里半夜徘徊呢?
我还记得。两个印有印第安人头像酌辨士,口香精,肥皂雕的娃娃,一枚生锈的奖章,一只带链的破表,杰姆肯定把这些东西藏在什么地方了。一天下午。我不禁停住脚步端详着那棵树:只见在那水泥补丁的周围,树干胀得又粗又大,水泥补丁变黄了。
有两三次我们几乎看到他了,这对任何人来i兑都是一个不乎凡的经历。
但是每次打那儿经过时,我还是希望见到他。可能我们有朝一日会见到他的。我想象着那将是怎样的情景。我走过来看见他时,他可能正坐在悬椅上。“您好哇,亚瑟先生。”我会这样向他问好,好象我一辈子里每天下午都这样对他说的。“晚上好,琼?路易斯,”他会这样说,也好象每天下午都对我说过一样,“这一向天气真好啊,不是吗?”是啊,先生,天气是好啊。”我会这样回答,并继续谈下去。
但是这不过是一种幻想。因为我们永远也见不到他。在夜阑人静、月亮下去的时候,他可能真的从屋里出来,目不转睛地盯着斯蒂芬尼?克劳福德。要是我啊,我就要盯着另一个人。不过那是他的事,反正他不会盯着我们就是了。
“你们没再搞那些恶作剧吧?”一天晚上我无意流露了我在死以前想好好看一眼布?拉德利这一愿望,阿迪克斯问道,“如果你们又在搞的话,我现在就警告你们:赶快停止。我老了,没有精神去把你们从拉德利的院子里赶走。再则,也太危险了。你们可能会挨子弹的。你们知道,内森先生不论看到什么影子都会开艳,哪怕那影子只留下儿童的小脚印。你们上次没有被打死算是万幸了。”
我当时就没再吭声。阿迪克斯这一席话使我感到非常惊异。这是他第一次让我知道他知道的比我们以为他知道的要多得多,而这件事情还是发生在几年以前呢。不,仅仅发生在去年夏天——不,两年前的夏天,当时时问把我糊弄了。我一定要记得问一问杰姆。
我口j遭遇了这么多事情,对布?拉德利的恐惧已经算不了什么了。阿迪克斯说。他看不出还会有什么事发生。事情总是会逐渐平静下来的,再过相当长的时间,人们就会忘记这里曾经有个叫汤姆?鲁宾逊的人曾被他们注意过。
阿迪克斯可能说得对。但是夏天发生的事情好象一问关闭着的屋子里的烟雾在我们头上缭绕。梅科姆的大人们从来不跟我和杰姆谈论那桩案子,却似乎跟他们自己的孩子谈论过。他们一定认为,我和杰姆有阿迪克新这么个父亲是不得已的,所以尽管阿迪克斯不好,他们的孩子仍然应该对我们友好。孩子们自己不管怎么样也不会这样想的。要是同学们的家长听任同学们自行其是的话.我和杰姆一定早就痛痛快快地和他们每个人部干了几次干净利落的拳斗了,这事情也一定早就一劳永逸地解决了。现在这样呢,我们不得不把头抬起来,象有身分的男女一样。这一来就有点象是亨利?拉斐特?杜博斯太太在世的时候一样,不过没有象她那样狂呼乱叫罢了。然而,有一桩怪事我百思不得其解:尽管阿迪克斯作为一个父亲缺点很多,但是在这一年里,人们还是一如既往,再次一致情愿地把他选入州立法机构。由此.我得出了这么个结论,人就是这么奇怪。我从此回避他们,不到不得已时.连想都不想他们一下.
有一次在学校里我却不得已地想到了他们。我们每个星期有一节时事课。每个小孩要从报纸上剪下一段新闻,熟悉这段新闻的内容.然后到课堂上来复述给大家昕。据说这种做法可以克服许多缺点:站在伙伴的面前可以培养优美的姿势和保持镇定自若的神情,发表简短的演讲可以培养遣词造句的能力,背熟一条新闻可以加强记忆力}学生被挑选出来搞这项活动,他就比以前任何时候都更加渴望回到集体中来。
这种做法意义深远,然而在梅科姆实行起来效果不好。首先,没有几个乡下小孩能看到报纸,所以剪辑新闻的任务就落在城里孩子的身上,越发使得乡下来的学生相信城里的孩子在课堂上是注意的中心。农村小孩通常只能从他们称为《格利特报》的报纸上剪下一些消息,而这种报纸所登载的东西,在盖茨小姐——我们老师的眼中纯属虚构。一个小孩背诵《格利特报*中的一段时,我不知道为什么盖茨小姐总是紧蹙眉头,不过那背诵的东西或多或少使人联想起这类事情,诸如爱玩土乐器啦,用糖浆软饼当午餐啦,做一个礼拜时极度兴奋的教派的教徒啦,唱《毛驴唱歌真动听》这首歌而又把“毛驴”这个词的音唱错了啦,等等。所有这些,都是州政府花钱让老师阻止学生干的事情。
尽管我们每周有这么一节课,仍然没有多少孩子知道时事究竟是什么。有一次,小查克?利特尔(尽管他似乎对母牛和母牛酌习性了解得象一个百岁老人一样清楚)讲述一个纳田尔叔叔的故事,只讲了一半,盖茨小姐就叫住了他:“查理斯,这不是时事,这是广告。”
不过塞西尔?雅各布还算知道什么是时事。轮到他时,他走上前去说:“老希特勒……”
“是阿道夫?希特勒,塞西尔。”盖茨小姐说,“说到人时我们从来不说‘老’什么什么的。”
“是的,小姐。”他接着说,“老阿道夫?希特勒一直在检拦……’
“不是‘检举’,是‘迫害’,塞西尔。”
“不,盖茨小姐,报纸上是这样说的……好吧,不管怎么说,老阿道夫?希特勒一直没有放过犹太人,把他们关进监狱,没收他们所有的财产。他不让任何一个犹太人出国,他在洗涤所有意志薄弱者,他……”
“什么,洗涤意志薄弱者?”
“是的,小姐,盖茨小姐。我想,是因为他们自己不知道怎么给自己洗涤,我想,一个白痴不会保搏自身清洁。哎,不管怎么说,希特勒还把所有半犹太血统的人都圈到一起,他想给这些人都立下名册,防止他们给他惹麻烦。我认为这是罪恶的行径。好了,这是我要说的时事。”
“很好,塞西尔,”盖茨小姐说。塞西尔喘着气回到自己的座位上。
坐在后面的一个小孩举起手来。“他怎么能那样做呢?”
“谁怎么能那样做?”盖茨小姐耐心地问。
“我说,希特勒怎么能把很多人关进栏圈呢?政府会阻止他那样予啦。”那只,j、手的主人说。
“希特勒就是那里的政府,”盖茨小姐说。她觉得要抓住这个机会把课堂搞得生动活泼一些,于是走到黑板旁用大写字母写下“民主”这个词。“民主,”她说,“谁知道民主的定义吗?”
“我们知道。”一个孩子回答。
我想起了阿迪克斯曾经告诉我的一条古老的竞选标语,于是举起手来。
“民主是什么意思,琼?路易斯?”
“人人权利平等,没有人享受特权。”我援引那条标语的话说。
“很好,琼-路易斯,很好。”盖茨小姐笑容可掬地说。接着,她在“民主”前边用大写字母加上“我们是一个”几个字,“同学们,现在让我们齐声读‘我们是一个民主国家。”
我们齐声读了一遍。然后,盖茨小姐说:“美国和德国的区别就在这里。我们是一个民主国家,而德国是一个独裁国家。独——裁,”她说,“在这里,我们反对迫害任何人。只有抱有偏见的人才会迫害别人。偏——见,”她清晰迪发出这个词。“世界上没有什么人比犹太人更好,为什么希特勒不这么认为,这对我来说是个谜。”
教室中间一个喜欢追根究底的孩子问道:“他们为什么不喜欢犹太人呢?盖茨小姐,您看是为什么?”
“我不知道,亨利。无论居住在哪个国家,犹太人都作出了重大贡献。更重要的是,他们是虔诚的宗教信徒。希特勒企图消灭宗教,可能是由于这个原因他不喜欢他们。”
塞西尔大声说道,“哎,我弄不清楚,人们认为犹太人喜欢兑换货币或者怎么的,不过那不是他们遭受迫害的原因。他们是白种人吗?”
盖茨小姐说:“塞西尔,进了中学你就会知道,有史以来犹太人一直备受迫害,甚至被赶出自己的家园。这是历史上惨绝人寰的事。好,现在该学算术了,孩子们。”
我从来不喜欢算术,所以整整一节课我老是望着窗外。阿迪克斯极少发火,只有在埃尔默?戴维斯要向我们报告希特勒的近况时他才会勃然大怒。他会忿忿地把收音机“啪”的一下关掉,说一声“哼!”有一次我问他为什么对希特勒这样厌恶,他说:“因为他是一个疯子。”
同学们在做算术练习时,我暗暗思忖道,这怎么可能呢?疯子只有一个,德国人千千万万,我看他们会把希特勒关进栏圈,而不是让希特勒把他们关进栏圈。肯定还有什么别的因素吧——我要去问爸爸。
我问了他,他说,他根本不能回答这个问题,因为他不知道怎样回答。
“但是,憎恨希特勒是应该的吗?”
“不,不应该,”他说,“憎恨什么人都不应该。”
“阿迪克斯,”我说,“我真有点弄不明白。盖茨小姐说,希特勒的所作所为残酷已极。她真气得满脸绯红……”
“我觉得她会这样气愤的。’
“但是……”
“什么?”
“没什么,爸爸。”我走了。我既不知道是否能把心中的烦恼对阿迪克斯解释清楚,也不知道是否能将一种模糊的感觉用语言表达出来。杰姆大概能够回答我的问题,对学校里的事情,杰姆比阿迪克斯了解一些。
杰姆帮橄榄球队打了一天水,累得精疲力竭。他的床边至少有十二根香蕉的皮,中间还有个空的牛奶瓶。“你一下子吃这么多干吗?”我问道。?
“教练说,要是我两年内体重能增加二十五磅,我就可以上场打球。”他说,“这是最好的办法。’
“你会都呕出来的。杰姆,”我说,“我想问你件事。”
“说吧,”他放下书,伸了伸腿。
“盖茨小姐是个好人吧?”
“当然啦,”杰姆回答,“我从进她的教室起就喜欢她了。”
“她痛恨希特勒……”
“那有什么错?”
“呃,她今天告诉我们希特勒多么坏,那样残酷地对待犹太人。杰姆,迫害任何人都是不对的,是吗?我是说,即使对任何人抱有鄙视的想法都不对,是吗'”
“当然不对啊,斯各特,你怎么了?”
“噢,那天晚上,从审判厅出来,盖茨小姐——她走下台阶时,在我们前面,你一定没注意她——她在与斯蒂芬尼?克劳福德小姐说话。我听见她说,时候到了,是要给他们点颜色看看了。他们忘了自己是什么货色,下一步,他们就以为可以和我们通婚了。杰姆,一个人怎么能这样憎恨希特勒,却又回过头来这样鄙夷地看待家门口的人呢……”
杰姆一下子勃然大怒,跳下床来,抓住我的衣领使劲地摇我。“我不想再昕到有关审判厅的事情,永远不想,不想,听见吗,你听见吗?再不要跟我说起它,一个字也不许说,听见吗?好吧,你出去!”
我惊骇得都忘了哭了。悄悄地离开杰姆的房问,轻轻地关上门,生怕弄出什么讨厌的响声又使他怒气冲天。我感到一阵疲倦,想找阿迪克斯。他在客厅里,我走到他跟前,想爬到他膝上去。
阿迪克斯笑了。“你长得这么大了,我都抱不起你了。”他把我紧紧搂住。“斯各特,”他温和地说,“别对杰姆不高兴。这些日子他很难过。我阿JJ才听见你们在那边讲话。”
阿迪克斯说,杰姆想方设法要忘记什么事情,但是他实际上只能把事情暂时极力忘记,过了相当长的时间以后,他就能冷静考虑这件事,理出个头绪来。等他冷静考虑以后,他又会变成往常的杰姆了。



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