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This chapter begins on the morning after Jem and Scout came to Atticus's rescue at the jail on the night that the lynch mob came to take Tom from his cell. The morning begins with a discussion of the previous night's events, with Atticus applauding Scout for single-handedly stopping the "gang of wild animals." Dill announces that everyone in town is talking about how "we held off a hundred folks with our bare hands."
Later, the children watched as people from all over the county passed by the Finch house on the way to see the trial. Although they had been told not to leave the yard, they "held off until noon" before heading to the courthouse square. Jem gives Dill a lengthy explanation about the history of Dolphus Raymond and his "mixed children," and then the children decide to try and get inside to see the trial.
Inside the courthouse hallway, the children discover a fact of which they were not aware. According to one of the men they overheard, Atticus did not volunteer to defend Tom Robinson: He was assigned the case by Judge John Taylor.
This was news, news that put a different light on things.
The courthouse was so crowded that they could not find any empty seats, but they soon were invited by Reverend Sykes to sit in the upstairs balcony with Tom's other supporters. They gladly accepted the offer and anxiously awaited the beginning of the trial.
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