To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


My last post was completely ridiculous. Obviously I was upset, and I wasn't prepared for it, so I gave vent to my upset in public. As a writer, such naked prose is embarrassing, but there is no reason for me to make an indiscretion worse by being equally confessional about my embarrassment. No, the reason I bring this up at all is that Charlie would not approve of my anger at cancer itself. He would ask what sets cancer apart from any other sometimes deadly illness. He would know that my anger is not so much with cancer but with death, and death, as he often said in one way or another, is necessary. If individuals did not die, the cycle of matter through ecosystems would stop. Life depends on the occasional ending of lives, and it was to life that Charlie always directed his loyalty--and mine. It is not that he did not grieve if he lost somebody--it was not that he did not want things for himself and his friends. It was that underneath that personal wanting was an awareness of something larger, and he did not confuse not getting what he wanted--however precious or valid the desire--with a violation of some law of the universe. Charlie would not be angry at cancer now. As his student--and, in a sense, his biographer--I am responsible for representing him accurately, and to you, who know nothing else of me, I represent him in my person. That's the job I signed up for. That's what I will continue to do.

I just realized this is the first major holiday where I cannot describe how we celebrated it at school. Thanksgiving, I mean. The reason is simple; we did not celebrate Thanksgiving on campus at all. We all went home, or, at least I always did, and I think everybody else did, too. Eventually I learned there was a tradition where if anybody didn't have a family to go to someone else would bring them home for the holiday. That first Thanksgiving I just went home to my parents for a few days. I'd been home a few times since starting home, but usually my big brother would be gone or something else would be going on. I think Thanksgiving was the first time since I'd moved out that we all spent several days together. It was nice.

But as was starting to happen more and more often, I felt slightly out of sync with the rest of my family. The reason, this time, was almost silly and certainly trivial; everyone else was excited about turkey, but I'd just had some a few weeks earlier before the end of the semester. We ate a lot of meat on campus towards the end of the year, just as we were largely vegetarian at the beginning of the year. In addition to the animals we raised ourselves, Charlie and some of his students hunted. I'm not sure how legal this was, since I don't recall any attention paid to hunting seasons or licenses--campus was always a world unto itself, and most people behaved as though it was outside of the jurisdiction of the mundane world outside. My first year or so, mostly the hunters were Rick and Charlie, and they brought in everything from woodchucks and squirrels to deer. Anything of any size they gave to the dining hall, but a single wild turkey was not a meal for everybody; campus usually needed three, for everyone to get some. So if Charlie killed just one turkey at a time, it was given instead to one of the dorms. You guessed a number between one and one hundred, and maybe got a turkey for Friday dorm dinner. My dorm had won right before Samhain. We roasted it and served it with roasted vegetables from the farm.

I suppose that turkey's flock-mates were angry about it.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Off on a Tangent.

I was listening to "This American Life" today, and what I heard has been on my mind all day.

"This American Life," in case you are not aware of it, is a radio program on NPR. I've become a fan in recent years. They do long-form documentary-type stories, usually two to three in an hour. They vary from funny to heartbreaking to frankly disturbing, sometimes within the same story, but always with some central quality of which comedy and tragedy are simply alternate expressions...heart, I think I'd call it.

Anyway, this one episode today I'd classify as merely interesting except for the train of thought it triggered in me that has been with me, as I said, all day.

I was doing the dishes and not really listening when someone said something about being interested in "secret knowledge." My ears perked up and I turned off the water to listen, because secret knowledge is, in some sense, the heart of magic. We used to talk about this a lot at school, what magic is and why one thing is called magic and another isn't. I won't go into the details now, except to say that this is one of those questions that is productive, if you are interested in such things. I later went online to get the podcast so I could listen to the whole show from the beginning. Here is the link for the podcast, in case you want to listen to it yourself;

Here is the synopsis--spoiler alert, I'm going to have to give away the ending.

A professor of music read about a man who claimed to have cured cancer using some sort of device. The man had long ago been discredited as a quack, but the music professor thought the device might have actually worked, so he built one and found that it did kill certain kinds of cells. He teamed up with a friend of his, a cancer researcher, to test the device on cancer cells and captured impressive pictures and video of leukemia cells and pancreatic cancer cells dying--this was all in petri dishes or something, not in an actual patient. The machine plus chemotherapy drugs killed a lot more cancer than the drugs alone. But the results were not consistent and there were some problems about test design and eventually the two men argued and stopped working together.

The thing that struck me at first was the music professor saying he was attracted to "secret knowledge, things people don't know, or maybe people used to know and have forgotten." This attraction to what nobody else knows is the attraction of conspiracy theories, but it is also the attraction of the occult. Much of occult literature these days is actually mostly secrecy (or, rather, secrecy on display, as it is published) with very little secret inside it; the romance and glamor of magic is the hidden meaning, the secret  sigil, the arcane languages and powerful practices that only the initiates know. That is what attracted this music teacher to the work of a supposed quack, the thought that here was a special something that not everybody had access to--a powerful secret that could change the world. As some of you may know, cancer is very difficult to treat, and the two most powerful treatments for inoperable cancers, radiation and chemotherapy, both cause almost as much illness as the cancer does. In fact, both can cause cancer. The idea behind aggressive cancer treatment today is still mostly that you poison the patient and hope his cancer dies before the rest of him does. A machine that kills cancer cells--only cancer cells--would be a miracle. It would be magic.

But whether the anti-cancer machine really works or not, the secret language understandable only by initiates really does exist, and the music professor isn't an initiate of this secret society. It's called science. I am an initiate; I have a master's degree in conservation biology. So I heard this researcher on the radio explaining why he couldn't accept the anti-cancer machine as proven...and I heard him correctly, as he meant to be heard. Let me see if I can explain this briefly.

Strange things happen all the time, and they happen for all sorts of reasons. Cells are born, they change, and they die, and often no one knows why. There may be no reason. But we humans like reason and we see it even where it isn't there. Once, when I was nine years old a buddy of mine and I were riding our bikes past my house. I thought it was weird to be riding past my own house and not stop, though I'd done it hundreds of times before. But just as I thought that this orange cat ran out into the street in front of me and startled me. I fell right off my bike and hurt myself badly and it's completely illogical, but from that day to this I have avoided passing my own house without stopping if I possibly can. I'll go around the block, if I have to. On some level, I believe that passing my house caused the accident. And we're all like that. We see patterns that aren't there. What science is--science is a way of telling the difference between patterns that are there and patterns that are not there. It isn't enough to watch the cancer cells dying, just like it isn't enough that I felt myself fall off my bike. Both incontrovertibly happened. But so what? Stuff  happens. And without the scientific process, you can't tell the difference between stuff just happening and the evidence of a new and real pattern. You can't tell the difference between signal and noise.

And that's what the researcher meant; he was excited about the possibility of curing cancer, but to him, the videos of dying cancer weren't proof. Since the experiments had not been done properly, there was no way to know if he was looking at the equivalent of my nine-year-old's superstition, an emotionally powerful illusion, or the next big breakthrough. But the music professor, being an initiate of something else entirely, didn't hear it that way. To him, the effectiveness of the machine was the obvious thing, and his friend's insistence on more study was only a demand for more proof with which to convince the skeptical. He was discouraged by what felt like an unreasonable demand for more of what he already had. Science isn't secret in the sense that nobody is allowed to tell; scientists spend their whole lives trying to tell. But in becoming a scientist you gain the ability to see things a different way--and you often lose the ability to see things in the old way. Initiates of different societies, the two men failed to understand each other and they fought and their partnership died.

But I can see it both ways, because before I trained as a scientist I trained as a...shaman might be the best term. Charlie had no word for what he was, and he gave no word to me. And science was for me a part of that larger thing, that greater initiation offered to me by Kit, the music professor and miracle-maker;Allen, the psychologist and master of illusion; Joy, the healer, Greg, the Buddhist alchemist; Karen, who taught me that every time you fall down you learn more and get stronger...and Charlie. We didn't all agree or even necessarily all like each other, but that was precisely the point. And we made something together. They made something and gave it to the world. And these two guys, the ones on the radio show, didn't have that thing and so they fought and their partnership died.

And they never said on the radio show when these events happened. It might have been many years ago now. That means that, were it not for that argument, there might be a cure for pancreatic cancer today. I'm sorry, I don't usually use this language, but I'm in no mood today for perspective.

Fuck cancer.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


It's strange how November does not seem very different than October did. The trees are bare now, and both Sandy and the election are in the past rather than the future, but basically my life goes on as before. I work, I eat, I sleep, and I watch my wife gradually wax like the moon. At school there was such a dramatic difference, because classes were over for the year and so many people went away. And I remember, mostly, it being dark. It couldn't have been dark all the time, of course, but that's what I remember, especially from that first November on campus. Just playing chess, reading, or studying by the woodstove in the Great Hall while outside it was dark and cold enclosing night. I'd finished an academic year; in just over two months, I'd cease to be a yearling. I'd be able to quit zazen, if I wanted to. I'd probably have to quit group therapy, since the new students would have first dibs on the limited space. I'd probably be able to quit my job as a janitor and go work for Charlie--I forgot to say earlier, but one of the reasons I didn't apply to the groundskeeping team to begin with was that Charlie gave first consideration to second-years. In any case, there was this gap in the year, a time of quiet, a time to think about the future and the past. I didn't even have Charlie around telling me what to do. He was on campus, for he had no other home, but I hardly ever saw him. He spent most of his time in the woods, I think, resting from his year of being available to others. The Masters actually had a secret stairwell so they could come in and go up to their rooms without the students crossing paths with them. Despite having been a janitor, I didn't find out about that stairwell until later, though sometimes we heard one or another of them taking their secret way behind the walls. Most of us just assumed the Mansion was haunted, an added romance to the place.

Why do I persist in thinking my life should follow the same rhythms it did in the past? I don't wake up surprised to be married, surprised to be making a living, or surprised to be thirty-two years old. Why do I catch myself continually surprised that I am not on campus? Maybe it's just that I've been working on this blog that my mind goes wandering and gets lost in time.

I'm really looking forward to the next phase of this blog, when I start telling this story in the detail I should have used from the beginning. Of course, writing that will probably make me even more discombobulated, but I do not write this account just for me. It is a duty I owe. I remember, years ago--it wasn't my first year, I think I was actually getting ready to graduate, I complained to Charlie that I didn't think I had found myself yet. Charlie typically sought sarcasm at such moments.

"I didn't know you had lost yourself," he deadpanned. "You should try looking in the mirror."

I ignored him and explained that I'd always thought that going to college--especially attending a pagan seminary--I would "find myself," whatever that was supposed to mean. But however much I'd learned and changed over the years, one thing hadn't changed. I still felt unimportant to myself, insubstantial. I'd always felt that way. I'd always been more or less happy, more or less popular, more or less successful at everything I did--except regular college, which I failed, but of course that was different. Leaving that place didn't feel like a failure anymore, it felt like a brilliant and miraculous success. But I'd always felt like that guy no one could ever quite remember. What's-his-name. I'd thought that would change when I grew up. It hadn't. Charlie thought for a moment.

"Tell me, then, what have you found, if you have not found yourself?" he asked.

"Other people," I answered, without hesitation. "You, Rick, Ollie, Kit, Allen, my other friends...the land here. I'm not sure I ever loved anything before. But I love this place." He nodded.

"Yes, that was the idea. Daniel, did you know most spiritual practitioners actually spend years and years trying to lose themselves?" I shook my head. Of course I had heard about surrendering the ego, letting go of the little self in order to find the big Self, that sort of thing. But I'd never connected that to my persistent sense of having no clear idea what I wanted or what I was good for.  Charlie continued. "Spiritual enlightenment, for lack of a better term, is not about changing yourself. It's certainly not about becoming perfect. You're already perfect, because God made you. It's about lightening up on yourself, on who you are, and finding a way to be useful anyway."

"How do I be useful, then?" I asked. But Charlie said he didn't know. Only I could find my work. "But I feel," I protested, "like I'm just watching life go by. That's what I've always done." It was this secret despair, the same feeling that had brought me to the seminary years earlier. And from the bottom at that despair I hoped, and half expected, that Charlie could work some magic and fix me. But even wizards, even geniuses, are just men.

"You watch life go by and you write about it," Charlie corrected me.  "And maybe that's what you should do. Maybe think of becoming clear, like a crystal? Like a lens that focuses light, without imposing any blemish or distortion of its own."

"How?" I asked.

"Knock," Charlie answered. "Knock and keep knocking. This isn't something you do on your own. You get ready and you knock. Throw yourself at the door, and keep throwing. And if God sees fit to show up, God will answer you."

Charlie hardly ever mentioned God. Half the time, I thought he was an atheist. When he did mention God, it was always important, and something in his voice was nonnegotiable, unquestionable. And in the end, it was Charlie who gave me my charge, telling me that, should anything happen, I was free to write his story. He's not the only one who asked me to be Chronicler, but he was the first.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Twelve Years Ago

Huh. So Obama won, among many other items of current news. This blog is not political per se, so I don't want to get into my opinion of any of these races or ballot measures...I do have opinions. I vote, and I was modestly active this time around, contributing my money and my time to various causes, but that is not my point, here.

My point is that I'm remembering that twelve years ago, my first year at the school, was also an election year. And it's a very visceral memory, for some reason.

As I said, most of the campus closed down November 1st and a lot of the students and staff left campus for the break. I stayed on campus, because I didn't have anywhere else to go besides my parents' house, and I didn't feel like living with my parents for three months. They lived pretty close by, so I could do short visits whenever I wanted to. We cooked in the Great Hall kitchen, or in our dorms, did chores around campus, and read a lot. A few people did make-up work from courses they had failed earlier in the year.

And I had not paid a whole lot of attention to the election. I had just turned twenty, so I suppose I was not in the habit of electoral politics, and anyway campus was so much a separate world. We did not watch TV, and rarely listened to the radio or went online. It's not that we didn't have access to information, but we weren't constantly listening to the talking heads or watching campaign adds. All those things you think you absorb by osmosis--which movies are coming out, which brands are cool, which news stories are important--it turns out you don't get any of that if you don't watch TV. There is, instead, a great, restful, silence. And I wasn't used to reaching beyond that yet, either. I had just turned twenty. I was used to whatever I needed to deal with simply imposing itself on me, through teachers, parents, or the ever-present media. It takes time to adapt to change. So I'd registered and I'd voted, but I didn't have a huge investment in the results. I went to bed that night as normal, mildly surprised that there was no winner yet. The next morning I got up, meditated, brushed my teeth and so forth, and went down to the Great Hall and toasted a bagel on the woodstove. And I picked up the paper. And there was no president yet.

You remember what happened next, I'm sure; weeks of arguing and uncertainty over hanging and dimpled chads and finally the Supreme Court and President George W. Bush. For most of that time--that whole administration--I was aware of politics only intermittently, as though I had gone to another country. I was distracted by my school work, certainly. I have had to learn to be involved.

And I have learned. But to this day, when I think of election returns, I also think of the taste of bagels.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Happy Samhain, everyone!

Though I admit is is a bit creepy to be celebrating the Day of the Dead right after such a frighteningly dangerous hurricane. It makes honoring the dead seem very real. We are ok here, though there are some areas in our town that flooded...I don't want to say too much and give away clues as to where I am. For various reasons, I do not want the places I talk about to be easy to find. There are things I want to talk about today, to continue my narrative, but before I get into that let me just say that I hope all my readers are ok, and that those who are not ok (whether they read my blog or not!) are in my thoughts and prayers.

So, back to my story...or my continuing information-dump, as it has become. I've decided to continue as I have begun until late January or so, when my second attempt at this blog will begin as a true narrative, showing you, not telling you, what the school was like. But in the mean-time those of you who have been reading me get a sneak-peak, as it were, of this world I am trying to describe. And along the way you'll get tidbits that probably won't be in the next version, like the Moon Man post, or the fact that this year Samhain is poignant for me in a way that next year probably won't be. I'm not going to go into detail (it's private), but the second year after a do I put this? It's the beginning of it being normal that the person is gone. Samhain was always a big deal on campus, just as it is for Wiccans--one of the few holidays where campus as a whole agreed with its Wiccan plurality--and it is a big deal for us, yet. We got together last night, everyone who could make it, and went through the old ceremony complete with party. Kayla's boy and a couple of the other sprouts and their friends held me for ransom and were duly paid off with candy, and it made me feel a bit better.

Samhain (which is pronounced "Sah-when") was always a big deal on campus, as I said. It is the Day of the Dead, from Celtic tradition (the Mexican Day of the Dead is a mixture of Aztec and Celtic tradition via the Catholic Church), which sounds creepy, like zombies, or something, but is actually warm and kind of goofy in mood, at least it always was with us. It doesn't have a lot to do with Halloween anymore, except for sharing the date. But Samhain was also the end of our school year; we had a long winter break instead of a summer break, so that we could shut down most of the buildings in the coldest weather and not have to heat them. Samhain to Brigit, only the Mansion stayed open and those of us who stayed the winter cooked in our dorms or in the small kitchen off the Great Hall. Except for Brigit itself, the Chapel Building stayed closed until Ostara. Time to think and time to plan, and time for the Masters to go off and be ordinary people again, if they wanted to be, instead of witches and wizards.

Celtic sabbats, like Jewish holidays, start at sundown the previous day, or at least so said Kit. I haven't encountered anyone else who says it, but it makes sense given that a lot of our mainstream holidays have an "eve" to them. Any little kid knows Christmas starts on Christmas Eve, and Halloween itself is All Hallows Eve, the night leading into All Saints Day. So as the sun set on Halloween my first year on campus and I got ready to head to the Chapel, I looked out the window of my friend's dorm-room and saw the campus was becoming a sea of stars. The little lamps lining the streets and paths of campus might have been Jack-O-Lanterns, and at first I thought they were, but Sarah would not hold with growing food with the intention of wasting it, and Charlie would not hold with buying hundreds of pumpkins from off campus as mere decoration. So there were very few carved pumpkins around, and instead campus glowed with hundreds of tea-lights floating in wooden bowls borrowed from the Dining Hall. Sheafs of spent corn stalks graced every doorway, and tables of whole pumpkins, squashes, beats, apples, and dried seedheads of dozens of plants had replaced all the flower arrangements and window-boxes that had adorned campus all through the growing season. Walking over the the Chapel I passed dozens of people I knew, but I noticed they were all adults; I knew the sprouts and even some of their friends had come on campus earlier in the day, and I couldn't figure out where they had all gone. "Sprout," in case I haven't explained, is our term for a child associated with the school in some way, usually relatives of Masters.

The ceremony started the same way the one at Brigit did, except there was an extra row of seats in the audience. We sat in cold candlelight as the Masters filed in, chanting, holding their candles, which this time were already lit. They put their candles on the stage and then everyone except Greg and Allen left the stage and joined us in the audience. Greg held a candle, Allen did not. Greg had been the Head of the Master's Group for two years, and now it was Allen's turn, so after a short speech calling the ceremony to order, Greg handed the candle to Allen and formally transferred leadership status. We all clapped. That's all the hierarchy the Masters had, just the Head. They did most things by consensus.

The ceremony itself was kind of short. Allen acted as MC, introducing other people as they came up to do their part. Greg read aloud a list of people being memorialized, mostly friends and relatives of community members (anyone was allowed to add a name to the list in the days leading up to Samhain). I recognized a few names of cultural "ancestors," too, and later I learned to recognize more such names. Edward Abby, Jacques Cousteau, Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, it was an eclectic list. Three names, I later learned, belonged to Masters who had died while working for the school. Two, a male couple who had helped found the Masters' Group, had died together in a car crash in the mid-eighties. The third man had been disabled by a stroke and lived on in semi-retirement on campus for several years before finally dying of pneumonia. I don't know how many people in the chapel that day had known those three when they were alive--some had, most had not--but the memorial ceremony insured they would not be forgotten. After the reading of the list, three people got up, one by one, to eulogize people who had died within the past year. And then things got a little silly.

Kit, who had the best voice on campus, lead us in a song. I'd never heard it before, but I've since learned it was adapted by a song written by a folk group called "Schooner Fare." The chorus of the original goes like this;

Hats off to old folks, wherever they may be,
cause they have the best hopes for you and for me.
I stand up for old folks, so you'll hear me say my
hat's off to old folks, and I hope I'll be one someday.

What Kit taught us switched the word "dead" for "old," and "I know" for "I hope."

My hat's off to dead folks and I know I'll be one some day.

One after another, half a dozen or so people stood up and sang a verse, each one celebrating the life of someone who had died. Then we'd sing the chorus and then there'd be another verse. I think us yearlings all felt a little uncomfortable with the song, at first, I mean hats off to dead folks? It's hardly reverential and it's certainly not euphemistic. But with each verse we loosened up a bit until by the end of it I, at least, meant every word. I stand up for dead folks. My hat's off to them. Seriously.

I'd only ever really lost one person at that point, my great aunt, who had died several years earlier. She was very old so it hadn't been a surprise, and I'd liked her, but I hadn't known her very well. She didn't live near us when I was growing up. But listening to that song got me thinking about who she was, what she'd wanted, and what she'd done. I made up my mind to ask my Mom about Aunt Ida next chance I got. We'd lost cats and dogs, too, when I was little, but I'd stopped counting those when Aunt Ida died, because it seemed childish to think of those as losses, too. But I remember I'd cried when my little black and white kitten died, when I was seven. Charlie, I knew, kept a photograph of a dog, framed in silver, on his desk in his room. He obviously did not have a dog now. If Charlie could count a dog as important enough for a framed photograph when, so far as I knew, he kept no images of humans, maybe I should start remembering my kitten again. Some of the people around me in the audience were crying openly while others were laughing, and a lot of people were doing both at once. Finally, the ceremony ended; all the candles (except for the ones on the walls) were snuffed out but one, the one Allen had, and he solemnly returned it to somewhere in the next room. The others stayed with us. All around the walls of the Chapel room were posters celebrating the lives of the people the community was memorializing, and some of us spent some time looking at them before heading out to the fire pit. Allen had told us there would be food there. That there would also be a bonfire and songs and stories and merriment went without saying. The posters would be up for the following day, until we closed the building. On my way out I heard something that sounded like a struggle of some sort, but everyone around me ignored it, so I did, too.

When we collected at the fire pit there was indeed plenty of food set out on tables, plus hot chocolate and cider, both hard and sweet, and a couple of people already had out their guitars and drums. And then someone said that Allen was missing.

And he was. It was odd, because everyone else was there, even Greg, who rarely went to parties, and Sarah, who was usually uncomfortable with things pagan, though she liked parties in a general way. Everyone was there, but Allen was conspicuously missing.

A small figure, either a woman or a boy, it was hard to tell which, strode suddenly into the clearing. It wore a homemade costume, vaguely pirate-ish, and carried a plastic sword and a very real lit torch. In the torchlight I could see it had a black patch over one eye and a bandana tied around the head, covering the lower half of the face. I did not know what was going on, but the older students and the faculty acted as though the figure were armed and dangerous. When it spoke, the voice was high and strange, deliberately disguised.

"We have stolen Allen! We have him! He is our prisoner, and you will never see him again if you do not do what we say! We are in charge, now!"

The figure was a child, and in a moment I had figured out who he must be; it was Allen's own son, one of the missing sprouts. Of course it was a prank of some kind, but the use of Allen's first name struck me as more of a violation of the ordinary than the charade of threat. Of course, Allen's kids called him Dad or Daddy, but all the other sprouts always called him Dr. Allen. The school community was not quite egalitarian, and while none of us called the Masters "professor," or anything like that, the children were not allowed to be so assertive. All adults were Ms. Mr. or Dr. to them. Except on Samhain.

The masters and some of the students begged and pleaded. They melodramatically groveled, but they could not make the boy relent. The ransom would have to be paid, and it must be paid in candy. The begging and the pleading was an act, and the child knew it, but the bargaining was obviously very real and in the end the sprouts got far more than I had expected them to get; nearly five pounds of candy each ("only the good kinds!"), plus a couple of glow-in-the-dark toy swords, three jars of jam, and a promise that this year they would all be allowed to have sleepovers on school nights, as long as the guest went to the same school and everyone stayed caught up on homework. Then they returned Allen, bringing him into the circle flanked by costumed guards of ridiculously small size but fearsome mien. He'd been treated fairly roughly, it seemed, bound and gagged and face-painted like a clown. The booty was exchanged for the prisoner and the miscreants cheered and ran, taking their treasure with them. Allen could not untie himself, so we helped him, but predictably as soon as his gag was off he started laughing.

"You taught them to tie knots this year, didn't you?" he accused Charlie, "I really couldn't get out." Charlie protested his innocence, but he had in fact taught a knot-tying course at the summer camp.

"At least they've learned to paint faces properly," Charlie pointed out. "Last year they used my sister's make-up."

"What is going on?" I asked the student standing next to me.

"Trick or treat," he explained. "They do this every year, kidnap one of the Masters, or sometimes a senior student. Last year it was Charlie. Twenty years ago it was the Masters' own idea. The Six set the rules, said how far they could go, instigated the whole thing. Since then it's been passed from kid to kid and none of them know the game was invented by grown-ups anymore. They bring their friends. When you see them again, remember to pretend you don't know who did it."

"Do they know we can recognize them?" I asked.

"The older ones do--it's sort of like Santa Claus, I guess. But them being in charge for one night isn't a charade--you saw Allen, he really couldn't get loose on his own. And twenty kids against one man, he probably couldn't have resisted capture without seriously hurting them. He really was at their mercy."

Trick or treat!