This incident occurs at the beginning of Chapter 21. In the previous chapters, Scout and Jem sneaked out of the house to watch the trial. When they arrived at the courthouse with Dill, the entire downstairs public seating area was full. In the segregated town, the downstairs was reserved for white people, and black people had to sit upstairs. Reverend Sykes had made space for the children up there. They had just finished watching Atticus’ closing statement to the jury when Calpurnia appeared to tell him, in a note, that the children were “missing.” When Mr. Underwood tells him they are upstairs, he shouts up to Jem to come down. As soon as they saw Calpurnia enter, Scout says, their hearts sank; they assumed they would be sent home. Jem, however, is so excited from watching his father that he completely ignores their bad behavior. “We’ve won, haven’t we?” he demands of his father.
After the children wheedle him some, Atticus agrees that they can return to the courtroom after they go home and eat supper. Jem is eager to hear the verdict. His father says it’s likely that the jury will reach a verdict before they return. Jem interprets this the wrong way:
“You think they’ll acquit him that fast?” asked Jem. Atticus opened his mouth to answer, but shut it and left us.