Cecil Jacobs jumps out from behind a tree and scares Jem and Scout nearly to death on their way to the school pageant. It's dark, there aren't very many lights, and the path to school isn't very populated. Cecil had been following them a bit, and they had heard some noises which alerted them to the presence of someone. After the pageant was over and the Finch children were on the way home, again they heard noises indicating someone was nearby in the dark. Scout screams that Cecil should come on out and not scare them again. However, it wasn't Cecil looking for a laugh, but Mr. Ewell looking for revenge.
While on their way to the pageant, Cecil Jacobs jumps out from behind a tree and scares Jem and Scout. It is this incident which makes Jem and Scout think Cecil is up to his silly tricks again, when they hear noises on their walk home. Unfortunately, however, it is not Cecil, but rather Bob Ewell, who is looking to harm Jem and Scout. After a rumble with Mr. Ewell, Scout manages to break free, but Jem is left behind. Later Sout learns that Jem was brought home safely by Boo Radley. It is at this point that Jem and Scout realize Boo's true heart.
Because Atticus is completely worn out after being in Montgomery, Jem and Scout walk to the pageant on their own. The night is dark and cloudy, and the children are completely unsuspecting when Cecil Jacobs jumps out at them. Later in the evening, Jem and Scout again suspect him of following them home.
"Ha-a-a, gotcha! Thought you might be comin' along this way!" Cecil shoutsThat as he shines the light from his flashlight. Cecil accompanies Scout the remainder of the way, and they enter the House of Horrors together. Later, Scout is summoned to get backstage for the play. However, she is so tired that she falls asleep and misses her curtain call. She then angers Mrs. Merriweather by running out at the very end of the performance as the pretentious woman "triumphantly mounted the stage with the state flag."
Soon Jem comes for Scout and consoles his mortified sister. In her embarrassment she tells Jem she will keep her costume on as they walk home. Before they have gone far, Jem tells Scout that he thinks he hears something.
"I hear it when we're walkin' along, but when we stop I don't hear it."
Scout tells him that he just hears her costume rustling. But as they listen again, they both hear footsteps. Jem concludes,
"It's just old Cecil. He won't get us again. Let's don't let him think we're hurrying."
Scout cannot imagine how Cecil can see them in the dark, but Jem points out that he can see her costume because it has been painted with "that shiny stuff" on the "fat streaks," so Cecil can probably see it as well. So Scout decides to call out to Cecil, but there is no answer. Nor does he respond to Jem's yell that echoes across the yard. It is then that a worried Jem tells Scout to remain quiet. Soon they resume their walking, but unfortunately Scout cannot walk very quickly in the ham costume. It is not long before she hears someone dragging his feet and shuffling; also, she detects the sound of cotton trouser legs rustling with each step.
Suddenly, the children realize the person behind them is running toward them with steps that do not belong to a child. But it is too late, and Scout is knocked to the ground. She hears scuffling, kicking sounds, and the sounds of shoes scraping tree roots and dirt. Jem rolls against her and pulls her up. They hurry away, but just when they have almost reached the end of the road, Jem's hand leaves hers. Scout feels him suddenly plunge to the ground amid more scuffling, and then she hears "a dull crunching sound and Jem screamed." Worried, Scout runs to Jem and collides with a "flabby male stomach." Arms "like steel" reach around her and squeeze Scout's breath out of her, and she is unable to move.
Abruptly, this man is snatched and flung to the ground, almost bringing Scout with him. Scout believes Jem has risen to fight again, but then she hears someone gasping for breath and staggering, coughing violently in the process. He groans, and Scout hears him pulling something heavy along the ground. Now Scout realizes that there are four people under the big tree. She stumbles over to someone on the ground, thinking he is Jem, but she feels a larger body and some prickly stubble on the face. She tries to find her way after having been spun around a number of times, and it is then that she sees a streetlight and a man stumbling as he carries Jem, whose arm dangles in an unnatural way before him.
Later Scout learns that it is Boo Radley who has rescued her brother and her from Bob Ewell; and, because Ewell possessed a knife, the children were truly in danger.