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Turns out, Billy's dogs are gaining quite the reputation as coon hunters.
One day at his grandpa's store, Billy runs into the two youngest Prichard boys. The Prichard family is no good: "Tales were told that they were bootleggers, thieves, and just all-round 'no accounts'" (12.10).
Rubin and Rainie Prichard challenge Billy to a hunting competition. There's a raccoon that lives near their home called the "ghost coon." No hound has ever been able to tree it. They bet Billy two dollars his hounds can't tree him either.
Billy doesn't want to bet, but his grandpa, as the mature adult in this situation (not), gets caught up in the bet and gives Billy the two dollars.
Well, at least he warns the Prichard boys not to hurt Billy or his hounds, or he'll send the marshal on them.
Once again Billy decides to not tell his parents about his hunting plans. This is sort of becoming a pattern with him.
That night the boys meet up. The Pritchards make fun of the size of Little Ann and Old Dan, but Billy doesn't mind. He just tells them, "dynamite came in little packages" (12.87).
What really gets him mad is when Rainie starts going on about how crooked Billy's grandpa is. Billy threatens to leave, Rubin threatens to bloody Rainie's nose, and Rainie finally shuts up.
Before the three boys can argue anymore, Old Dan picks up the trail of the ghost coon. Just as quickly, he loses it.
Remember, this isn't any ordinary raccoon; it's the mythical ghost coon. Like a ghost ship, only less nautical.
But Little Ann is on the case. And with a little determination, and some acrobatic skills, she actually hunts him down. The chase is on!
The ghost coon heads for an open field. Rainie tells Billy that if the ghost coon gets to a certain tree, he'll disappear.
Just then, Billy hears Old Dan bark, but not Little Ann. Billy hurries after them to see what is so special about this tree.
We're actually getting a little excited about this.