After these events, the summer passed quickly at Donegal Academy, with adventures and discoveries too numerous to mention here. And as summer blended seamlessly into autumn, regular classes began, leaving little time for anything more than weekend walks, if there was no rain.
In late October, as Hallloween approached, Sammy began to have strange, terrifying dreams. At first he could not remember them, but as the days progressed, some details drew sharply into focus. Storms...darkness...a mausoleum..an abandoned car, and an overwhelming atmosphere of cruelty. But life in the daylight went on, following its usual collection of routines, so he tried not to think too much about it. He did mention he dreams to Colleen at the movies on a Friday night. She had rubbed his temples and chanted, "Good-dreams-good-dreams." But even this magic, strong as it was, did not work.
One day, in early November, Sammy took refuge in the Great Hall to read The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard by Arthur Conan Doyle. He had one hour before his next class and how better to spend it (since she was in class) than with a dashing hero of Napoleonic times.
As he began the story "How the Brigadier came to the Castle of Gloom," a familiar voice startled him back into the real world. It was Sue, and she looked quite upset.
"Sammy...Sammy, I have to tell you something," her voice quavered and almost broke. Sammy dropped the book to give her his full attention. "It's Colleen...o Sammy, I wish I didn't have to tell you this..." She put her hands on his shoulders. "Colleen is gone--her mother took her last night. I'm so sorry..." She gave him a quick hug and ran out through the door to the girls' dormitory.
Around midnight, when everybody else was asleep, Sammy crouched on the floor behind a huge roll-top desk just outside the headmaster's office. A fierce determination had seized him, pulling him up beyond the fear of rules or consequences. he let his fertile mind form a plan and let his body carry it through. In this matter nothing was going to stop him.
First he had to find out where her mother lived. That would be on file here in the office. The he needed money for the train to Harrisburg. From there he could take the bus to...
Ah! Somebody was there at the door! Sammy turned off the flashlight and crouched down, making himself as small as possible. Who was it?
"Hey!," said a deep, yet friendly voice. It was Mr. Johan, the housemaster of the boys' dormitory. He was a well loved character, known to be lenient and easy going, because in his day he had been a 'lifer' at the Academy.
"Sammy," he continued. "I know it's you. I know why you are here and I believe I can guess what you're trying to do." He paused, and the boy could hear only the labored breath of an old man struggling to say the right thing.
"Sammy...some things in life are just too powerful for us to do anything about. As much as we want to try. As much as we..." he paused, choking back a memory of his own.
"I will leave this door open. I want you to go back to bed now. That will probably be the hardest thing you will ever have to do...I know."
The boy collapsed against the side of the desk and began to cry. The flashlight slipped from his grasp and rolled across the thread-bare carpet, becoming lost in the darkness.