Some tinfoil was sticking in a knot-hole just above my eye level, winking at me in the afternoon sun. I stood on tiptoe, hastily looked around once more, reached into the hole, and withdrew two pieces of chewing gum minus their outer wrappers.
The gum looks fresh and edible.
Spit it out right now! Don’t you know you’re not supposed to even touch the trees over there? You’ll get killed if you do! You go gargle—right now, you hear me?
It was sticking in that tree yonder, the one comin‘ from school.
Jem came home and yelled at me for eating the gum. I spat it out. The tang was fading, anyway. I’ve been chewin‘ it all afternoon and I ain’t dead yet, not even sick.
Jem, you reckon that’s somebody’s hidin‘ place?
We’ll keep ‘em till school starts, then go around and ask everybody if they’re theirs.
I got a tire to play with, roll down the street. I could only hope that Jem would outrun the tire and me, or that I would be stopped by a bump in the sidewalk. I heard him behind me, chasing and shouting. The tire bumped on gravel, skeetered across the road, crashed into a barrier and popped me like a cork onto pavement. Dizzy and nauseated, I lay on the cement and shook my head still, pounded my ears to silence, and heard Jem’s voice
Scout, get away from there, come on! Come on, Scout, don’t just lie there! Get up, can’tcha?
Don’t you cry, now, Scout… don’t cry now, don’t you worry
Someone had filled our knot-hole with cement.
Mr. Radley, ah—did you put cement in that hole in that tree down yonder?
Tree’s dying. You plug ‘em with cement when they’re sick. You ought to know that, Jem.