Mr. Dark enters the library and asks, "Where are the boys?" Charles does not tell him, keeping to the charade that he does not know who the boys are. "I could kill you," says Mr. Dark. Charles responds by telling him that he knows the secrets of the carnival, that it has been on the road for hundreds of years. He has shelved all of his books but one: the Bible. Mr. Dark scornfully throws the Bible in the trash before offering Charles a deal: reveal the boys and ride the carousel thirty years backwards. The thought tempts Charles but he does not succumb. Mr. Dark leaves him, looking for the boys, and Charles attempts to give chase but the room begins to spin and he feels a pain in his heart.
Mr. Dark goes searching for the boys in the library, taunting them with the promise of the carousel and the thought that Will's mother rode it. The talk of his mother sets Will sobbing, which allows Mr. Dark to find the boys. He drags them off the shelves and onto the floor of the library. Will's father steps out of the dark and takes a swing at Mr. Dark, who crushes the old man's hand. Charles passes out. Outside, they spot their mothers walking home from church. The boys try to scream but Mr. Dark covers their mouths.
The Dust Witch meets them and speaks both boys' names. She waves her fingers through the air and chants incantations, temporarily sealing the boys' mouths, ears, and eyes. Mr. Dark commands to kill Charles next. She enters the library to find him, a heap on the floor. The Witch attempts to slow and stop his heart with her magic tickling of the air, but Charles, on the verge of death, begins to laugh at the absurd sight of her. The Dust Witch recoils and eventually leaves, driven away by his manic laughter.
Mr. Dark marches the boys, who are enchanted to obey him, through town. Mr. Dark torments them, telling Jim that he could replace Mr. Cooger as his partner if he wanted to ride the carousel, and threatening to turn Will into a baby who could think like a thirteen-year-old but never express his thoughts. They pass Mr. Kolb, a policeman, but again the boys are powerless to call for help. They continue walking towards the carnival meadow.
While Charles has thought objectively about the carousel and decided that riding it would do more harm than good, the notion of a younger Charles still holds a lot of power over the man. He has not completely accepted the limitations of his age, nor has he truly realized that while old age is lacking many of the benefits of youth, it also has its own set of unique pleasures.
Likewise, Jim seems to have come a long way since the beginning of the story. Lately, he has been far more cautious and far less impulsive, and in recent chapters he has even seemed to have cooled his obsession with becoming older. Chapter 42 makes it clear, however, that the prospect still tempts him, just as the prospect of youth still tempts Charles.
Chapter 44, however, marks a turning point in Charles's views on age and death. A little while back, Charles spoke to Will and Jim about the nature of Death, calling it "Nothing". But while intellectually he may have known this to be true, he still did not fully accept the idea with his heart and soul. This can be seen in the fact that the carousel - and the opportunity to be young again - still holds sway over Charles when Mr. Dark tempts him the in the library. This encounter with the Dust Witch changes all this.
The Dust Witch brings Charles to the edge of death, and what is his reaction? He laughs. "Nothing mattered," he thinks, and this single thought frees him to laugh at the very thing that is killing him. In essence, Charles laughs in the face of Death itself, and this laughter is his salvation. When Charles laughs at death, the Dust Witch loses all power over him. The Witch - and perhaps the rest of the carnival as well - needs fear in order for her power to have any effect.