The next day the boys assemble to continue the destruction, but Mike and another boy are not able to come. Rain begins to fall and thunder sounds. Summers has become bored and wants to go play on the slot machines, but T. tells him that they are nowhere near finished. The next step is to get each floor of the house to collapse. They make mistakes, like forgetting to remove the windows on some of the lower floors before they remove each floor. Then they turn on the water, which pours down the stairs and through the hollowed-out house.
The sound of the thunder refers back to the war, when bombs destroyed the neighborhood, while the rain outside is mirrored by the water pouring through the house as the boys flood it. This chain of associations ties the destruction of Mr. Thomas’s house to the destruction of the war, and makes the reader wonder what will happen when the destruction ends.
At that moment, they hear a whistle. Mike has run away from his mother to let them know that he has seen Old Misery returning early from his holiday due to the rain. Summers says they ought to run away before they get caught, and the rest of the boys seem to agree, but T. is adamant that they finish destroying the house. He says two boys should run to guard the front and back of the house, but he no longer projects certainty and the boys seem about to begin to ignore his commands. Summers begins to mock him, even using his full name “Trevor.” But before the gang has time to laugh, Blackie throws his support behind T. by shoving Summers and volunteering to watch the front of the house. Mike is told to go stand near Old Misery’s lavatory and yell.
Mike, although young, is doing his best to show the bravery and dedication to the group called for by their code of behavior. At the same time, Summers uses the boys’ derision for the upper classes to undermine T.. Blackie, who has become closer to T. after their shared experience of burning of the money and who recognizes that T.’s audacious plan might lead to widespread respect for the gang, steps in and influences the other boys to remain loyal to T.
Old Misery slowly approaches his house, stopping to wipe mud off his shoes before he enters, because he wants to keep his house clean. He hears a whistle and looks around in suspicion. Then a boy runs out and calls to him. The boy tells Old Misery that another boy is trapped inside the outdoor lavatory.
Old Misery’s careful attempt to prevent getting his house muddy makes him ridiculous in the eyes of the reader, who knows there is little left of the house to keep clean. This emphasizes the impracticality and obsolescence of Mr. Thomas’s dedication to material possessions and to the class status they represent.
Mr. Thomas is indignant that his property has been broken into, but realizes he recognizes T. from when he showed the boy around his house. T. hurries Mr. Thomas, who can hear the cries of the boy supposedly locked in the lavatory. By rushing him along, T. gets the old man to climb over his own garden wall, first climbing over it himself, then grabbing the man’s travel bag and helping him over the wall.
Mr. Thomas stumbles, but T. catches him and Mr. Thomas automatically thanks T. Mr. Thomas tells T. that he likes company, but there are certain rules that ought to be followed before the boys can come onto his property, that the boys have to ask permission first and then come only if Mr. Thomas says they can. As they move through the garden together, Mr. Thomas complains of his rheumatism, and says that he is afraid to trip on the path because his horoscope for the week had told him to beware of a serious crash.
Mr. Thomas’s lecture to T. shows that he does not recognize the deep divide between himself and these boys who have grown up with a post-war code of behavior. This makes him look ridiculous. And yet when Mr. Thomas stumbles on the path and worries about the crash predicted by his horoscope, the sharp contrast between his old man’s frailty and T.’s fearlessness heightens the sense that what T. has led the boys in doing to him is cruel. The story successfully treads a fine line in portraying Mr. Thomas and his old ideas about class as being obsolete and having to be swept away while also capturing the cruelty, sadness, and personal loss of that destruction.
Arriving at the outdoor lavatory, Mr. Thomas asks what is wrong, but receives no reply from the boy inside. T. suggests that the boy may have fainted, and Mr. Thomas yanks open the door. He is then shoved into the lavatory and locked in. He calls to be let out, but is told to stay quiet and that he won’t be harmed. Mr. Thomas realizes that there is no use in yelling, because it is unlikely that anyone would be nearby enough to hear him, or respond to his cries if they did. He feels old and helpless. After a bit, Mr. Thomas hears sounds coming from his house and, peering out through a hole, can see light inside his house. He thinks the sounds resemble the noises made by carpenters. Mr. Thomas yells one more time, but realizes he won’t be heard.
Mr. Thomas’s obsolete perspective on the world seems to have completely let him down. His outdated code of behavior led him to trust a boy who has then tricked him and locked him into his own outdated outhouse. The impracticality of Mr. Thomas’s relationship to money, which he saved instead of using it to fix his indoor bathroom, is another sign of his obsolescence. Finally, he is unable to decipher what the sounds could be coming from, which suggests he will not be able to create something new to replace what the boys are destroying.