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It is Dill's last summer night in Maycomb. Jem and Scout get permission to go sit with him that evening. Dill wants to go for "a walk," but it turns into something more: Jem and Dill want to sneak over to the Radley place and peek into one of their windows. Scout doesn't want them to do it, but Jem accuses her of being girlish, an insult she can't bear, and she goes along with it. They sneak under a wire fence and go through a gate. At the window, Scout and Jem hoist Dill up to peek in the window. Dill sees nothing, only curtains and a small faraway light. The boys want to try a back window instead, despite Scout's pleas to leave. As Jem is raising his head to look in, the shadow of a man appears and crosses over him. As soon as it's gone, the three children run as fast as they can back home, but Jem loses his pants in the gate. As they run, they hear a shotgun sound somewhere behind them.
When they return, Mr. Radley is standing inside his gate, and Atticus is there with various neighbors. They hear that Mr. Radley was shooting at a "white Negro" in his backyard, and has another barrel waiting if he returns. Dill makes up a story about playing strip poker to explain Jem's missing pants, and Jem says they were playing with matches rather than cards, which would be considered unforgivable. Dill says goodbye to them, and Jem and Scout go to bed. Jem decides to go back and get his pants late that night. Scout tries to persuade him that it would be better to get whipped by Atticus than to be shot and killed by Mr. Radley, but Jem insists on going. Jem explains that he's never been whipped by Atticus and doesn't want to be. Jem is gone for a little while, but returns with the pants, trembling.