Study Guide

Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 13

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Chapter 13

  • Huh. That tree doesn't look like anything special, but sure enough the raccoon isn't there. It disappeared. Spooky!
  • Little Ann knows that the ghost coon isn't in the tree, so she keeps searching. Old Dan (remember, he's the dim one) keeps barking at the tree.
  • Rainie demands that Billy pay up, but Billy won't give up till his dogs do.
  • Well, after a little more searching his dogs give up, and Billy has to hand over the two dollars. It's a sad moment for our little hero.
  • Rubin has a big old stupid grin on his face and says how this is going to break Billy's grandpa's heart. How Billy keeps from punching him, we don't know.
  • Just kidding, folks! Use your words, not your firsts.
  • While Rubin gloats, the wind shifts. Little Ann's little ears perk up; she's picked up a scent. She heads straight for a gatepost and barks the special doggie code that means, "Hey, dude, I've got me a coon up in this tree."
  • Billy grabs a switch, jams it inside the hollow post, and out pops the ghost coon. Little Ann caught the ghost coon!
  • After fighting his way free from the hounds, the coon runs off for the nearest tree and scurries up into the branches.
  • Billy decides to climb the tree and scare him down. But once he's up in the tree, he realizes he doesn't want to kill the ghost coon, after all.
  • This starts a big old fight with Rubin. Billy wants his money back, but Rubin refuses and decides that he is going to scare the coon out. Billy says he won't let his dogs kill the coon, so Rubin threatens to beat up Billy.
  • At this point things get really intense.
  • The Pritchards' hound, Old Blue, shows up. This doesn't go over well with Old Dan, and Billy is worried there might be a dogfight.
  • Billy tries to leave, but Rubin still refuses to give him his two dollars.
  • Then, just as Billy predicted, a fight breaks out between Old Dan and Old Blue.
  • Rubin grabs Billy, so he can't break up the fight between the dogs. Rubin figures that Old Blue, being the bigger dog, will win.
  • But he doesn't account for Little Ann, who charges like a little dog-shaped lion. Now Rainie's upset, terrified that the two dogs are going to kill Old Blue.
  • Things are about to get gruesome (again), so be prepared.
  • Rubin picks up Billy's ax and charges in to kill Old Dan and Little Ann. As he's running, he trips on a stick and falls.
  • And that, Shmoopers, is why you never run with scissors.
  • Anyway, Billy manages to break up the fight before his dogs kill Old Blue. But Rubin isn't looking too good. In fact, he isn't moving.
  • Rainie is standing over Rubin paralyzed with fear. When Billy comes over, he sees the ax sunk deep into Rubin's stomach.
  • Rubin, just barely alive, asks Billy to pull the ax out. Oops. When he does, blood gushes out, and Rubin dies. That is way harsh. We didn't like the guy, but, still. Yikes.
  • Pro tip: never pull something out of someone's flesh. That's what doctors (and clamps and blood transfusions) are for.
  • Rainie has run off. Billy collects his dogs and runs for home.
  • When he gets home, he wakes up his parents and tells them everything that happened.
  • The next day is a sad one. Rubin doesn't get a funeral, because the Pritchards decide to deal with it in their own way.
  • Over the next few days Billy doesn't feel like hunting. Unsurprisingly, he keeps having bad dreams.
  • Billy asks his mom if he can have a gun because he thinks it would be safer than carrying an ax.
  • Oookay. That makes sense. At least you can also do useful things with an ax.
  • It's also probably the worst possible thing he could have said to his mom, because she gets "sitting-hen" mad (13.163) and tells him he can have a gun when he's 21.
  • In retrospect, it's probably not the best timing on Billy's part.
  • Billy still feels like he needs to do something, so he takes some flowers and lays them on Rubin's grave at the Pritchards' house. What a little gentleman, right?
  • As he leaves the grave, he sees Mrs. Pritchard emerge from the house. He hurries into the woods but watches as she picks up his flowers, arranges them on the grave, and goes back to the house wiping her eyes.
  • This does the trick. Billy feels better and decides to start hunting again.

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