Charles sits at the breakfast table with his mother and Joseph. As he sits, he thinks, “He will have to be my father.” Suddenly, Joseph gives Charles some news: Charles will be going to school with Edmund from now on.
The information Helena was going to tell Charles the previous night turns out to be the news about Charles’s schooling (which would suggest that Joseph is getting closer with Helena, and might marry her soon).
In the following days, Charles tries his best to avoid Edmund. He wanders around the house, trying to stay as far as possible from Edmund. One day, he hides in a small shed in the garden outside Warings. While he’s looking around, he hears the shed door lock. At first, he assumes it’s Edmund playing a trick on him. But then he begins thinking of “tramps and murderers,” and all the other people who might mean him harm. He imagines being choked, stabbed, or hit with an axe.
Charles allows his mind to run wild, and here, he envisions all the horrible things that could happen to him if he’s locked in the shed for a long time. In a way, Charles’s greatest enemy is his own fear, which he frequently allows to seize control of his imagination.
As he sits in the dark, Charles thinks about going to school with Edmund, and suddenly he hears a truck driving by the shed. He pounds on the door of the shed until his knuckles bleed, but nobody opens the door. Suddenly, he vomits. After what feels like hours, he falls asleep.
Charles is willing to endure great pain because of his fear and desperation to escape—and this fact foreshadows the novel’s shocking ending.
Charles dreams about a Punch and Judy puppet show. He sits on the beach with his school friend Devereux, while the puppets murmur, “Kingshaw” again and again. Suddenly, Charles wakes up, and realizes that somebody is saying his name—it’s Edmund.
Edmund’s voice provides the “link” between Charles’s dreams and his waking life. In that sense, Edmund has become a voice in Charles’s own head, and already seems to know Charles’s innermost secrets and fears. Puppet shows featuring the characters Punch and Judy were popular among children in the 19th and early 20th century, and were known for being particularly violent.
Edmund teases Charles for sitting alone in the dark. He brags that he has the key to the shed. Furious, Charles calls Edmund a bastard and asks why Edmund has locked him up. Edmund says, “I put you in here just because I felt like it.” He adds that Charles will be placed in Edmund’s dorm at school, where Edmund is Head of Dorm. Charles is sure that Edmund is telling the truth. Furthermore, Edmund claims to have lots of friends at school. Edmund promises Charles that he’ll tell everyone that Charles is a baby. He claims that the students cut up dead moths in science class, and Charles becomes so frightened and furious that he threatens to kill Edmund. He breaks down, crying, and when he looks up, Edmund is gone.
Edmund fills Charles’s head with visions of bullying at boarding school. It’s strange that Charles immediately believes Edmund’s claims of being a prefect and a popular student (whereas it’s easy to imagine that Edmund is exaggerating or lying outright). In a word, Charles allows Edmund to tell him what is and isn’t true, and in this way he all but allows Edmund to control his thoughts.
A moment later, Edmund opens the shed door and shouts, “It’s lunchtime and we’re late.” Slowly, numbly, Charles gets up and walks back to the house. Inside, Edmund merrily tells Helena, “We were being bandits.”
Charles is too frightened and dejected (and too angry with his mother) to tell her that Edmund bullies him. Edmund, meanwhile, ensures that the adults perceive him as an innocent, fun-loving kid.