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Jean Louise has a flashback to sixth grade. That year, there are several children from Old Sarum, a nearby rural area, temporarily in the Maycomb school, and Jean Louise enjoys the company of the rougher farm kids. When she begins to menstruate for the first time, she returns to school after lunch very glum, and the Old Sarum kids quickly figure out what’s going on. One of the farm boys, Albert, kisses her with his tongue.
Jean Louise’s friend Ada Belle tells Jean Louise that a girl’s daddy had gotten her pregnant by French-kissing her. Jean Louise is terrified and becomes convinced that she is pregnant because Albert had French-kissed her. Instead of talking to Calpurnia or Atticus, she keeps her secret and tries to cobble together all the information she can. Jean Louise feels deeply ashamed and becomes miserably convinced that she will have her baby in October. As a result, she decides to kill herself on the thirtieth of September.
When September 30 comes, Jean Louise climbs the ladder on the town water-tank. She looks out over the town and thinks about how to jump, Henry grabs her and carries her down the ladder. Henry starts to yell at her, but when he sees her trembling, he knows that something is wrong.
Jean Louise finally confesses her whole story to Calpurnia. Calpurnia reassures her that she is not pregnant and explains about the birds and the bees. Jean Louise finally breathes a sigh of relief. Calpurnia says that if Jean Louise’s mother had still been alive, she would have learned about this long ago, but that it’s hard for Atticus to explain such things by himself. For the first time, Calpurnia had called her “ma’am” and “Miss Scout,” treating her like a woman rather than a little girl.
That night, she teases Jem, who now goes to high school and is trying to make it onto the football team. Jem tells her that if there’s anything that she ever wants to talk to him about, or if she ever gets in trouble at school, she should come and tell him, because he’ll take care of her.
After passing out in emotional exhaustion on Sunday afternoon, Jean Louise wakes up at five o’clock on Monday morning. She goes out to smoke and feels numb, but she knows that the numbness is only temporary. She decides to mow the lawn. At first, she can’t get the mower started, but after a black milk boy comes to deliver the milk, she gets the mower to work. Alexandra, who is already wearing a corset at this early hour, comes outside to tell her to stop.
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