Jim and Will give the policemen false identities. Will discards his free tickets, but Jim keeps his, and the two friends argue about what to do next. Will wants to involve the chief of police, but Jim counters that they have no proof and suggests apologizing to Mr. Cooger. Jim reveals, further, that he wants to ride the carousel forward until he is 20. They argue about this and other things, before overhearing Miss Foley at the police station, announcing that Will and Jim stole her jewelry. Will convinces Jim that they should turn themselves in right away to foil Miss Foley's plan, which was to keep them in hiding. They meet Charles at the station, pick up and return Miss Foley's jewels, and return home.
Back home, the boys reveal to Charles the hidden ladders they use to sneak out. He recalls that he used to do such things when he was a boy. Further, Charles tells Will that he knows he didn't steal anything, so why did he confess? Will tells his dad that Miss Foley wanted them to hide, so he turned himself in to foil her. He promises to tell his father the whole story of the carnival "in a few days."
Jim goes to bed and Will and his father remain outside, though it is 1:00 a.m. They have a long conversation about being good and being happy, and about life and death. Charles reveals that everything makes him sad except for death. "Death makes everything else sad," he says, "but death itself only scares." The two spontaneously warn each other not to go to the carnival. Then Will invites his father to climb back into his house on the hidden ladder. Charles slips once but manages to climb up.
Will sleeps for an hour and wakes up to find that Jim has taken the lightning rod from his roof just to tempt fate. All of a sudden, a balloon appears abovehead, searching for them. In the wicker carriage is the Dust Witch, who is blind, but her fingers "feel the bumps of the world", and she moves her hands about in the wind. The balloon drops down and something brushes along the top of Jim's house. After the balloon has left, the boys scramble up to Jim's roof and find a painted silver track, shimmering in the moonlight and marking Jim's house for the whole town to see. Will runs down, grabs a hose, carries it up to the roof and begins to wash off the paint.
The two boys finish cleaning the roof and go back to their rooms. Will spots his archery set and attempts to lure the Dust Witch back toward him. He runs to an abandoned house and climbs up to the roof. The balloon follows, coming closer and closer with each pass. Will turns his back to the balloon, tempting it to come within range of his bow and arrow. It works. But when he tries to let his arrow fly, the bow snaps in half. In desperation, he grabs onto the basket with one hand and with his free hand hurls the arrow at the balloon, where it cuts a wide smile. He lets go and falls back to the roof, skidding along the shingles and then falling into a tree. The balloon deflates and drifts back to the carnival.
The concept of age is really beginning to come between the two friends. Will stops just short of accusing Jim of being a bad friend, saying that once Jim grows old on the carousel he will no longer be friends with Will. Will also suggests that Jim would be perfectly happy to sell him out if it meant that he could ride the carousel. By the end of the argument, Jim seems nearly to agree with Will's dictum: "Everything in its time." This phrase rebuts Jim's obsession with taking time into his own hands, and also reflects on the foolishness of Miss Foley's and Charles's obsession with youth. Indeed, this mantra of acceptance will prove to be a major theme in this novel, as characters learn to accept the joys and limitations of their ages.
Despite Jim's desires to be older, it is Will who shows the most maturity at this point in the story. His handling of the Miss Foley situation - turning himself in - is strategically sound and very mature and courageous to boot. Jim, on the other hand, wants nothing but to be older, yet this desire leads him, paradoxically, to act more immature by the hour. This reminds us of the effect of the Mirror Maze, which brings about the opposite age in a person as that seen in the mirror. It is Will who is really growing up, bit by bit, "everything in its time."
Chapter 29 provides further evidence for Will's ongoing maturation. For most of the novel, Will has been at the mercy of Jim's impulsive whims and desires. Jim goes somewhere or does something; Will reluctantly follows. Here, however, Will is taking charge. Jim is stunned by the developments, but Will thinks and acts quickly, finding the hose to wash off the paint. Chapter 30 continues in this vein. We see Will taking initiative and showing intelligence and courage, in contrast to previous occasions in which Jim has been the leader. It is also interesting to note that Will leaves the house without alerting Jim, just as Jim had previously left his house without Will, when he had gone to Miss Foley's earlier in the night.
Will's discussion with his father in Chapter 28 is the strongest evidence of all that he is maturing into a caring, intelligent, and responsible adult. This is first illustrated by the fact that this conversation happens at all. Since the beginning of the novel, the relationship between Will and his father has been awkward and cold. Neither have had anything to say to the other, and both were very aware of this fact. Now, Will has opened up and demonstrates a great deal of caring and love for his father. "Am I a good person?" he asks. "Are you a good person?" "Why aren't you happy?" It is Will who begins this late-night discussion. These are remarkably difficult questions to ask for a thirteen year old boy, and they open the door to a closer and more meaningful relationship between the older man and the young boy on the verge of growing up.
This discussion between Will and Charles is a breakthrough moment in the relationship between father and son, and Charles is beginning to look more closely at his life and beginning to accept his place in the world. His age and lost youth do still make him unhappy, but this is the first time in the book that he has spoken of this unhappiness with anyone else, a big step on its own. And by the end of the discussion, he seems more upbeat and less depressed than he has been in the past. This is demonstrated by his decision to climb the rungs on the wall below Will's window. The old Charles would have declined this opportunity, citing the limitations of his aging body. This time, however, he takes a risk. It almost ends in disaster as he loses his grip on the bars, but he overcomes this and makes his way to the top. This is symbolic of the larger personal growth that he is currently experiencing. It also suggests that the road to youthfulness can be found within, through a refusal to accept the depressing burden of one's age, not in some carnival chicanery.