The night is dark. On the way to the pageant Cecil Jacobs jumps from behind a bush and scares Scout and Jem. Then Scout falls asleep and misses her cue to go onstage and is so embarrassed she doesn't want to leave when people are around.
Cecil's joking attack foreshadows Ewell's later attack. What a child knows to do only as a joke, an adult does seriously.
As Jem and Scout walk home alone (Scout still in her costume) they hear a noise, and then are attacked. Jem fights back, but is thrown and screams. The assailant squeezes Scout, but then suddenly she's somehow free. Scout feels for Jem, but touches a strange unshaven face that smells like whiskey. In the distance, she can see a man she doesn't recognize carrying Jem toward her house, and Atticus running out to meet him. Atticus calls for Dr. Reynolds and Heck Tate. Dr. Reynold's examines Jem and says he has a broken arm but will be okay. Heck Tate arrives with news that Bob Ewell is dead.
Bob Ewell attacks Scout and Jem to get back at Atticus. Hate and prejudice consumed him entirely until he attempted perhaps the most heinous and cowardly act known to man: murdering a child.