فصل 12کتاب: ای رعد خروشان، فریادم را بشنو / فصل 12
- زمان مطالعه 31 دقیقه
- سطح سخت
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
When we neared the house, the dull glow of a kerosene lamp was shining faintly from the boys’ room.’Y-you s’pose they already know !’ Christopher-John asked breathlessly as we ran up the lawn. ‘Dunno ‘bout that,’ 1 said,’but they know we ain’t where we s’pose to be.’
We ran noisily up onto the porch and flung open the unlatched door. Mama and Big Ma, standing with Mr. Morrison near the foot of the bed, turned as we entered and Big Ma cried, ‘Lord, there they is !’‘Where have you been!’ Mama demanded, her face strangely stricken. ‘What do you mean running around out there this time of night !’
Before we could answer either question, Papa appeared in the doorway, dressed, his wide leather strap in hand.
‘Papa -‘ I began.
‘He-he down to T.J.’s. Papa -
‘That boy’s gotten mighty grown,’ Papa said, clearly angry. ‘I’m gonna teach all of y’all ‘bout traipsing off in the middle of the night … and especially Stacey. He should know better. If Mr. Morrison hadn’t seen this door open, I suppose you would’ve thought you was getting away with something - like T.J. Well, y’all gonna learn right here and now there ain’t gonna be no T.J.s in this house -
‘But, Papa, they h-hurt Claude! ‘Christopher-John cried, tears streaming down his cheeks for his injured friend.
‘And T.J., too,’ echoed Little Man, trembling.
‘What!’ Papa asked, his eyes narrowing. ‘What y’all talking ‘bout!’
‘Papa, they hurt’em real bad and…and,.’ I could not finish. Papa came to me and took my face in his hands. ‘What is it, Cassie girl ! Tell me.
Everything. I poured out everything. About T.J.’s breaking into the mercantile with the Simmses, about his coming in the night fleeing the Simmses, about the coming of the men and what they had done to the Averys. About Mr. Jamison and the threat of the men to come to the house to get him and Mr. Morrison.
‘And Stacey’s still down there!’ Papa asked when I had finished.
‘Yessir. But he hid in the forest. They don’t know he’s there.’
Papa spun around suddenly. ‘Cotta get him out of there, he said, moving quicker than I had thought possible with his bad leg.Mama followed him into their room, and the boys and I followed her. From over the bed Papa pulled his shotgun.
‘David, not with the shotgun. You can’t stop them like that.’
‘Got no other way,’ he said, stuffing a box of shells into his shirt pocket.
‘You fire on them and they’ll hang you for sure. They’d like nothing better.
‘If I don’t, they’ll hang T.J. This thing’s been coming a long time, baby, and T.J. just happened to be the one foolish enough to trigger it. But, fool or not, I can’t just sit by and let them kill the boy. And if they find Stacey ‘I know, David, I know. But there’s got to be another way. Some way they won’t kill you too !’ ‘Seems like they might be planning to do that anyway, Papa said, turning from her. ‘They come here, no telling what’ll happen, and I’ll use every bullet I got ‘fore I let them hurt anybody in this house.’
Mama grabbed his arm. ‘Get Harlan Granger to stop it. If he says so, they’ll go on home.’
Papa shook his head. ‘Them cars had to come right past his house to get to the Averys’, and if he intended to stop them, he’d stop them without me telling him so.
‘Then,’ said Mama, ‘force him to stop it.’
‘How!’ asked Papa dryly. ‘Hold a gun to his head!’ He left her then, going back into the boys’ room. ‘You coming, Mr.
Mr. Morrison nodded and followed Papa onto the porch, a rifle in his hand. Like a cat Mama sprang after them and grabbed Papa again. ‘David, don’t…don’t use the gun.’ Papa stared out as a bolt of lightning splintered the night into a dazzling brilliance. The wind was blowing softly, gently toward the east. ‘Perhaps …’ he started, then was quiet.
Papa touched Mama’s face tenderly with the tips of his fingers and said, ‘I’ll do what I have to do, Mary … and so will you.’
Then he turned from her, and with Mr. Morrison disappeared into the night.Mama pushed us back into her room, where Big Ma fell upon her knees and prayed a powerful prayer. Afterward both Mama and Big Ma changed their clothes, then we sat, very quiet, as the heat crept sticky and wet through our clothing and the thunder banged menacingly overhead. Mama, her knuckles tight against her skin as she gripped the arms of her chair. looked down upon Christopher-John, Little Man, and me, our eyes wide awake with fear, ‘I don’t suppose it would do any good to put you to bed.’ she said quietly. We looked up at her. She did not mean to have an answer; we gave none, and nothing else was said as the night minutes crept past and the waiting pressed as heavily upon us as the heat.
Then Mama stiffened. She sniffed the air and got up.
‘What is it, child !’ Big Ma asked.
‘You smell smoke!’ Mama said, going to the front door and opening it. Little Man. Christopher-John. and I followed, peeping around her in the doorway. From deep in the field where the land sloped upward toward the Granger forest, a fire billowed, carried eastward by the wind,
‘Mama. the cotton !’ I cried. ‘It’s on fire !’
‘Oh, good Lord !’ Big Ma exclaimed, hurrying to join us. ‘That lightning done that !’
‘If it reaches those trees, it’ll burn everything from here to Strawberry,’ Mama said. She turned quickly and ran across the room to the side door. ‘Stay here.’ she ordered, opening the door and fleeing across the yard to the barn. ‘Mama, you’d better get some water!’ she yelled over her shoulder.
Big Ma hurried into the kitchen with Christopher-John, Little Man. and me at her heels, ‘What we gonna do, Big Ma!’ I asked.
Big Ma stepped onto the back porch and brought in the washtub and began filling it with water, ‘We gotta fight that fire and try and stop it ‘fore it reach them trees. Stand back now out the way so y’all don’t get wet.’
In a few minutes Mama returned, her arms loaded with sacks of burlap. She quickly threw the sacks into the water and ran back out again. When she returned, she carried two shovels and several more sacks.
‘Mama, what you gonna do with all that!’ asked Little Man.’It’s for fighting the fire.’ she replied hastily.
‘Oh.’ said Little Man, grabbing for one o~ the shovels as I started to take the other.
‘No,’ Mama said. ‘You’re going to stay here.’
Big Ma straightened from where she was bent dunking the sacks into the water. ‘Mary, child, you don’t think it’d be better to take them with us !’
Mama studied us closely and bit her lower lip. She was silent for several moments, then she shook her head. ‘Can’t anyone get to the house from the Grangers’ without our seeing them. I’d rather they stay here than risk them near the fire.’
Then she charged each of us, a strange glint in her eyes. ‘Cassie, Christopher-John, Clayton Chester, hear me good. I don’t want you near that fire. You set one foot from this house and I’m going to skin you alive …do you hear me now!’
We nodded solemnly. ‘Yes ma’am. Mama.
‘And stay inside. That lightning’s dangerous.’
‘B-but. Mama,’ cried Christopher-John. ‘y’all going out there in that lightning i’
‘It can’t be helped, baby.’ she said. ‘The fire’s got to be stopped.
Then she and Big Ma laid the shovels across the top of the tub and each took a handle of it. As they stepped out the back door. Mama looked back at us. her eyes uncertain, as if she did not want to leave us .’Y’all be sure to mind now. ordered Big Ma gruffly, and the two of them carrying the heavy tub crossed the yard toward the garden. From the garden they would cut through the south pasture and up to where the cotton blazed. We watched until they were swallowed by the blackness that lay between the house and the fire, then dashed back to the front porch where the view was clearer. There we gazed transfixed as the flames gobbled the cotton and crept dangerously near the forest edge.
Th-that fire, Cassie.’ said Christopher-John. ‘it gonna burn us up!’
‘No …it’s going the other way. Toward the forest.’Then it’s gonna burn up the trees.’ said Christopher-John sadly.
Little Man tugged at my arm. ‘Papa and Stacey and Mr. Morrison, Cassie! They in them trees!’ Then iron-willed Little Man began to cry. And Christopher-John too. And the three of us huddled together, all alone, ‘Hey, y’ail all right!’
I gazed out into the night, seeing nothing but the gray smoke and the red rim of the fire in the east, ‘Who’s that!’
‘It’s me, I said Jeremy Simms, running up the lawn.
‘Jeremy, what you doing out this time of night?’ I questioned, taken aback to see him.
‘It ain’t night no more, Cassie. It’s near dawn.’
‘But what you doing here!’ repeated Little Man with a sniffle.
‘I was sleepin’ up in my tree like I always do -
‘On a night like this!’ I exclaimed. ‘Boy, you are crazy !’
Jeremy looked rather shamefaced, and shrugged. ‘Well, anyway, I was and I smelled smoke. I knew it was comin’ from this away and I was ‘fraid it was y’all’s place, so I run in and told my pa, and him and me we come on up here over an hour ago.
‘You mean you been out there fighting that fire!’
Jeremy nodded. ‘My pa, and R,W. and Melvin too.
‘R.W. and Melvin!. Little Man. Christopher-John. and I exclaimed together.
‘But they was -‘ I poked Christopher-John into silence.
‘Yeah, they got there ‘fore us. And there’s a whole lot of men from the town out there too.’ He looked puzzled, ‘I wonder what they all was doin’ out here!’‘How bad is it?’ I asked, ignoring his wonderings. ‘It get much of the cotton !’
Jeremy nodded absently. ‘Funny thing. That fire come up from that lightning and struck one of them wooden fence posts, I reckon, and sparked that cotton. Must’ve burned a good quarter of it.. Y’all lucky it ain’t headed this way.
‘But the trees,’ said Christopher-John. ‘It gonna get the trees, ain’t it!’
Jeremy looked out across the field, shielding his eyes against the brilliance of the fire. ‘They tryin’ like everything to stop it.
Your papa and Mr. Granger, they got -
‘Papa! You seen Papa! He all right!’ cried Christopher- John breathlessly.
Jeremy nodded, looking down at him strangely, ‘Yeah, he’s fine -
‘And Stacey, you seen him!’ inquired Little Man.
Again, Jeremy nodded. ‘Yeah, he out there too.
Little Man, Christopher-John. and I glanced at each other, relieved just a bit, and Jeremy went on, though eyeing us somewhat suspiciously. ‘Your papa and Mr. Granger, they got them men diggin’ a deep trench ‘cross that slope and they say they gonna burn that pasture grass from the trench back to the cotton -
‘You think that’ll stop it !’ I asked.
Jeremy stared blankly at the fire and shook his head. ‘Dunno,’ he said finally. ‘Sure hope so, though.’ There was a violent clap of thunder, and lightning flooded the field. ‘One thing would sure help though is if that ole rain would only come on down.’
All four of us looked up at the sky and waited a minute for the rain to fall. When nothing happened, Jeremy turned and sighed. ‘I better be gettin’ back now. Miz Logan said she left y’all here so I just come to see ‘bout ya.’ Then he ran down the slope, waving back at us as he went. When he got to the road, he stopped suddenly and stood very still; then he put out his hands, hesitated a moment, and spun around wildly as if he were mad.
‘It’s rainin’, y’all!’ he cried.’That ole rain a-comin’ down !’Little Man, Christopher-John, and I jumped from the porch and ran barefooted onto the lawn, feeling the rain fine and cool upon our faces. And we laughed, whooping joyously into the thundering night, forgetting for the moment that we still did not know what had happened to T.J.
When the dawn came peeping yellow-gray and sooted over the horizon, the fire was out and the thunderstorm had shifted eastward after an hour of heavy rain. I stood up stiffly, my eyes tearing from the acrid smoke, and looked out across the cotton to the slope, barely visible in the smoggish dawn. Near the slope where once cotton stalks had stood, their brown bells popping with tiny puffs of cotton, the land was charred, desolate, black, still steaming from the night.
I wanted to go and take a closer look, but for once Christopher-John would not budge. ‘No!’ he repeated over and over. ‘I ain’t going !’
‘But what Mama meant was that she didn’t want us near the fire, and it’s out now.’
Christopher-john set his lips firmly together, folded his plump arms across his chest and was adamant. When I saw that he would not be persuaded, I gazed again at the field and decided that I could not wait any longer. ‘Okay, you stay here then.
We’ll be right back.’ Ignoring his protests, Little Man and I ran down to the wet road.
‘He really ain’t coming,’ said Little Man, amazed, looking back over his shoulder.
‘I guess not,’ ! said, searching for signs of the fire in the cotton. Farther up the road the stalks were singed, and the fine gray ash of the fire lay thick upon them and the road and the forest trees.
When we reached the burnt-out section of the field, we surveyed the destruction. As far as we could see, the fire line had extended midway up the slope, but had been stopped at the trench. The old oak was untouched. Moving across the field, slowly, mechanically, as if sleepwalking, was a flood of men and women dumping shovels of dirt on fire patches which refused to die. They wore wide handkerchiefs over their faces and many wore hats, making it difficult to identify who was who, but it was obvious that the ranks of the fire fighters had swelled from the two dozen townsmen to include nearby farmers. I recognized Mr. Lanier by his floppy blue hat working side by side with Mr. Simms, each oblivious of the other, and Papa near the slope waving orders to two of the townsmen. Mr. Granger, hammering down smoldering stalks with the flat of his shovel, was near the south pasture where Mr. Morrison and Mama were swatting the burning ground, Nearer the fence a stocky man, masked like the others, searched the field in robot fashion for hidden fire under the charredskeletons of broken stalks, When he reached the fence, he leaned tiredly against it, taking off his handkerchief to wipe the sweat and soot from his face. He coughed and looked around blankly. His eyes fell on Little Man and me staring up at him.
But Kaleb Wallace seemed not to recognize us, and after a moment he picked up his shovel and started back toward the slope without a word.
Then Little Man nudged me, ‘Look over there, Cassie, There go Mama and Big Ma !’ I followed his pointing finger. Mama and Big Ma were headed home across the field,
‘Come on.’ I said, sprinting back up the road, When we reached the house, we dragged our feet across the wet lawn to clean them and rejoined Christopher-John on the porch. He looked a bit frightened sitting there ail alone and was obviously glad we were back, ‘Y’all all right !’ he asked.
‘Course we’re all right,’ I said, plopping on the porch and trying to catch my breath.
‘What’d it look like!’
Before either Little Man or I could answer, Mama and Big Ma emerged from the field with Stacey, the sacks now blackened remnants in their hands. We ran to them eagerly. ‘Stacey, you all right!’ I cried. ‘What ‘bout T.J.!’
‘And C-Claude!’ stammered Christopher-John. And Little Man asked, ‘Papa and Mr. Morrison, ain’t they coming!’
Mama held up her hand wearily. ‘Babies! Babies!’ Then she put her arm around Christopher-John, ‘Claude’s fine, honey.
And,’ she said. looking down at Little Man, ‘Papa and Mr. Morrison, they’ll be coming soon.
‘But T.J., Mama,’ I persisted. ‘What ‘bout T.J. !’
Mama sighed and sat down on the steps, laying the sacks on the ground. The boys and I sat beside her.
‘I’m gonna go on in and change, Mary,’ Big Ma said, climbing the steps and opening our bedroom door. ‘Miz Fannie gonna need somebody.’
Mama nodded. ‘Tell her I’ll be down soon as I get the children to bed and things straightened out here.’ Then she turned and looked down at Little Man, Christopher-John. and me, eager to know what had happened. She smiled slightly, but there was no happiness in it. ‘T.J.’s ail right. The sheriff and Mr. Jamison took him into Strawberry.’But why, Mama!’ asked Little Man. ‘He done something bad !’
‘They think he did, baby. They think he did.’ ‘Then - then they didn’t hurt him no more!’ I asked.
Stacey looked across at Mama to see if she intended to answer: then, his voice hollow and strained, he said, ‘Mr. Granger stopped them and sent them up to fight the fire.
I sensed that there was more, but before I could ask what, Christopher-john piped, ‘And - and Papa and Mr. Morrison, they didn’t have to fight them ole men ! They didn’t have to use the guns!’
‘Thank the Lord, no.’ said Mama. ‘They didn’t.’
The fire come up.’ said Stacey, ‘and Mr. Morrison come and got me and then them men come down here to fight the fire and didn’t nobody have to fight nobody.
‘Mr. Morrison come get you alone!’ I asked, puzzled. ‘Where was Papa !’
Stacey again looked at Mama and for a moment they both were silent. Then Stacey said. ‘Y’all know he couldn’t make that slope with that bad leg of his.
I looked at him suspiciously. I had seen Papa move on that leg. He could have made the slope if he wanted to.
‘All right now.’ Mama said, rising. ‘It’s been a long, tiring night and it’s time you all were in bed.
I reached for her arm. ‘Mama, how bad is it really! I mean, is there enough cotton left to pay the taxes!’
Mama looked at me oddly. ‘Since when did you start worrying about taxes?’ I shrugged, then leaned closer toward her, wanting an answer, yet afraid to hear it. ‘The taxes will get paid, don’t you worry,’ was all the answer she gave. ‘Now, let’s get to bed.’
‘But I wanna wait for Papa and Mr. Morrison !’ protested Little Man.
‘Me too!’ yawned Christopher-John.’Inside !’ !All of us went in but Stacey, and Mama did not make him. But as soon as she had disappeared into the boys’ room to make sure Little Man and Christopher-John got to bed, I returned to the porch and sat beside him. ‘I thought you went to bed,’ he said.
‘I wanna know what happened over there.’
‘I told you, Mr. Granger -
‘I come and got Papa and Mr. Morrison like you asked.’ I reminded him. ‘Now I wanna know everything happened after I left.’
Stacey sighed and rubbed his left temple absently, as if his head were hurting. ‘Ain’t much happened ‘cepting Mr. Jamison tried talking to them men some more, and after a bit they pushed him out of the way and stuffed T.J. into one of their cars.
But Mr. Jamison, he jumped into his car and lit out ahead of them and drove up to Mr. Granger’s and swung his car smack across the road so couldn’t nobody get past him. Then he starts laying on his horn.
‘You go over there!’
He nodded. ‘By the time I got ‘cross the field to where I could hear what was going on, Mr. Granger was standing on his porch and Mr. Jamison was telling him that the sheriff or nobody else was ‘bout to stop a hanging on that flimsy message he’d sent up to the Averys’. But Mr. Granger, he just stood there on his porch looking sleepy and bored, and finally he told the sheriff, “Hank, you take care of this. That’s what folks elected you for.”
‘Then Kaleb Wallace, he leaps out of his car and tries to grab Mr. Jamison’s keys. But Mr. Jamison threw them keys right into Mrs. Granger’s flower bed and couldn’t nobody find them, so Melvin and R.W. come up and pushed Mr. Jamison’s car off the road. Then them cars was ‘bout to take off again when Mr. Granger comes running off the porch hollering like he’s lost his mind. ‘There’s smoke coming from my forest yonder the yells. ‘Dry as that timber is, a fire catch hold it won’t stop burning for a week. Give that boy to Wade like he wants and get on up there !” And folks started running all over the place for shovels and things, then all of them cut back down the road to the Averys’ and through them woods over to our place.’
‘And that’s when Mr. Morrison come got you !’
Stacey nodded. ‘He found me when I followed them men back up to the woods.I sat very still, listening to the soft sounds of the early morning, my eyes on the field. There was something which I still did not understand.
Stacey nodded toward the road. ‘Here come Papa and Mr. Morrison.’ They were walking with slow, exhausted steps toward the drive.
The two of us ran down the lawn, but before we reached the road a car approached and stopped directly behind them. Mr.
Jamison was driving. Stacey and I stood curiously on the lawn, far enough away not to be noticed, but close enough to hear.
‘David. I thought you should know …’ said Mr. Jamison, ‘I just come from Strawberry to see the Averys ‘How bad is it?’
Mr. Jamison stared straight out at the road. ‘Jim Lee Barnett … he died at four o’clock this morning.
Papa hit the roof of the car hard with his clenched fist and turned toward the field, his head bowed.
For a long, long minute, none of the men spoke; then Mr. Morrison said softly, ‘The boy, how is he !’
‘Dec Crandon says he’s got a couple of broken ribs and his jaw’s broken. but he’ll be all right … for now. I’m going to his folks to tell them and take them to town. Just thought I’d tell you first.
Papa said, ‘I’ll go in with them.’
Mr. Jamison pulled off his hat and ran his fingers through his hair, damp against his forehead. Then, squinting, he looked over his shoulder at the field. ‘Folks thinking.’ he said slowly, as if he did not want to say what he was about to say, ‘folks thinking that lightning struck that fence of yours and started the fire…’ He pulled at his ear. ‘It’s better-, I think, that you stay clear of this whole thing now, David, and don’t give anybody cause to think about you at all, except that you got what was coming to you by losing a quarter of your cotton…’
There was a cautious silence as he gazed up at Papa and Mr. Morrison, their faces set in grim, tired lines. ‘… Or some- body might just get to wondering about that fire…’
‘Stacey.’ I whispered, ‘what’s he talking ‘bout!’‘Hush. Cassie,’ Stacey said, his eyes intent on the men.
‘But I wanna know -
Stacey looked around at me sharply, his face drawn, his eyes anxious, and without even a murmur from him I suddenly did know. I knew why Mr. Morrison had come for him alone. Why Mr. Jamison was afraid for Papa to go into town. Papa had found a way, as Mama had asked, to make Mr. Granger stop the hanging: He had started the fire.
And it came to me that this was one of those known and unknown things, something never to be spoken, not even to each other. I glanced at Stacey, and he saw in my eyes that I knew, and understood the meaning of what I knew, and he said simply, ‘Mr. Jamison’s going now.
Mr. Jamison turned around in the driveway and headed back toward the Averys’. Papa and Mr. Morrison watched him leave, then Mr. Morrison walked silently up the drive to do the morning chores and Papa, noticing us for the first time, stared down at us, his eyes bloodshot and unsmiling. ‘I thought y’all would’ve been in bed by now.’ he said.
‘Papa,’ Stacey whispered hoarsely,’ what’s gonna happen to T.J. now !’
Papa looked out at the climbing sun, a round, red shadow behind the smoggish heat. He didn’t answer immediately, and it seemed as if he were debating whether or not he should. Finally. very slowly, he looked down. first at me, then at Stacey. He said quietly, ‘He’s in jail right now.
‘And - and what then !’ asked Stacey.
Papa studied us. ‘He could possibly go on the chain gang. . .’
‘Papa, could he … could he die!’ asked Stacey, hardly breathing.
‘Papa, could he?’
Papa put a strong hand on each of us and watched us closely. ‘I ain’t never lied to y’all, y’all know that.’‘Yessir.’ He waited, his eyes on us. ‘Well, I … I wish I could lie to y’all now.’
‘No! Oh. Papa, no!’ I cried. ‘They wouldn’t do that to ole T.J. ! He can talk his way outa just ‘bout anything! Be- sides, he ain’t done nothing that bad. It was them Simmses ! Tell them that !’
Stacey, shaking his head, backed away, silent, not wanting to believe, but believing still. His eyes filled with heavy tears, then he turned and fled down the lawn and across the road into the shelter of the forest.
Papa stared after him, holding me tightly to him. ‘Oh, P-Papa, d-does it have to be !’
Papa tilted my chin and gazed softly down at me. ‘All I can say, Cassie girl .,.is that it shouldn’t be.’ Then, glancing back toward the forest, he took my hand and led me to the house.
Mama was waiting for us as we climbed the steps, her face wan and strained, Little Man and Christopher-John were already in bed, and after Mama had felt my forehead and asked if I was all right she sent me to bed too. Big Ma had already gone to the Averys’ and climbed into bed alone. A few minutes later both Mama and Papa came to tuck me in, talking softly in fragile, gentle words that seemed about to break. Their presence softened the hurt and I did not cry. But after they had left and I saw Papa through the open window disappear into the forest after Stacey, the tears began to run fast and heavy down my cheeks.
In the afternoon when I awakened, or tomorrow or the next day, the boys and I would still be free to run the red road, to wander through the old forest and sprawl lazily on the banks of the pond. Come October, we would trudge to school as always, barefooted and grumbling, fighting the dust and the mud and the Jefferson Davis school bus. But T.J. never would again.
I had never liked T.J,, but he had always been there, a part of me, a part of my life, just like the mud and the rain, and I had thought that he always would be. Yet the mud and the rain and the dust would all pass. I knew and understood that. What had happened to T.J. in the night I did not understand, but I knew that it would not pass. And cried for those things which had happened in the night and would not pass.
I cried for T.J. For T.J. and the land.
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