The children had already made one unsuccessful attempt to make contact with Boo in Chapter 5, but Dill's warning bell failed to stop Atticus, who caught Jem with the fishing pole and the letter they were trying to deliver. Summer was nearly over, and Dill was set to leave the next day, so Jem made plans for a more daring raid that night. After sneaking through the Radley's back yard, Jem boldly stepped onto the Radley porch in the hope of catching a glimpse of Boo through the porch window. Instead, a shadow suddenly appeared, and the children retreated quickly as warning gunshots passed overhead. In doing so, Jem caught his pants on the Radley fence and, in order to make his escape, he removed them and returned in his underwear. Jem's underpants did not go unnoticed by the crowd of neighbors who had gathered in the street, and the children were sent home. Later that night, Jem decided to make the dangerous return to the Radley fence in order to retrieve his lost pants. Scout was worried Jem would be killed, but he explained that
"I--it's like this, Scout... Atticus ain't ever whipped me... I wanta keep it that way. (Jem, Chapter 6)
Jem returned safely with the lost pants, but he didn't tell Scout about their mysterious transformation until later.