Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 11
Billy tells a story of when Little Ann needed Old Dan's help. After a few days of sitting inside during a bad blizzard, Billy cannot stand it anymore and decides to go out for a hunt with his dogs. It is slippery and foggy and Papa and Mama warn Billy to be careful. He starts the hunt and soon he hears his dogs whooping; he knows they are on the trail of a coon. Old Dan and Little Ann chase the coon around the river bottoms and all the way back to the house. Mama, Papa, and Billy's sister's are shouting with joy. Soon enough, the coon is back in the bottoms and the dogs are right behind him. After a while, there is silence; Billy can no longer hear the sounds of his dogs and he knows that something is desperately wrong. He finally hears a long moan from Old Dan. Billy follows the sound and arrives at the terrible scene. The dogs chased the coon over the river. Old Dan made the jump, but Little Ann fell through the ice. Billy holds out his lantern over the river to see through the fog and he sees Old Dan sitting on the ice next to Little Ann, who is in the water and holding onto the ice with her claws. The scene is too much for Billy to bear and he doesn't know what to do. He cannot go out onto the ice because he will fall through. He feels hopeless and just cries: "I opened my mouth to call Old Dan. I wanted to tell him to come on and we'd go home as there was nothing we could do. The words just wouldn't come out. I couldn't utter a sound." Chapter 11, pg. 117
Billy says a prayer and asks God to help him. Just when he thinks all hope is lost, Billy gets an idea. He takes the handle off of his lantern, stretches it out, and bends the end so that it forms a hook. He checks to see how deep the water is by the bank. It is only 18 inches - he can make it. He takes off his clothes, wades into the water, and makes his way out to Little Ann. When the water is finally up to his chin and he can go no further, he starts to "fish" for Little Ann's collar with the lantern handle. He eventually hooks it and pulls her out of the water. Billy starts to make his way back out of the water, but it is difficult because his whole body is numb. When he finally makes it out of the water, he dresses and builds a big fire. He and Old Dan revive Little Ann, as the cold water froze her body into a temporary state of paralysis. Billy feels good and knows she will live.
Billy is so thankful for his lantern. He promises to keep it clean and rust-free forever. He goes home and does not mention any of what happened to his parents. He does not want to worry them. When he comes down with a cold for the next couple of days, he tells Mama that he just got his feet wet. Again, Billy asks Mama about God and if he answers everyone's prayers. Mama tells him that He only answers the ones that come from the heart. Mama is proud of Billy asking a question like that and kisses him all over. Billy is disgusted with her kisses because he says that a Mama shouldn't kiss a "coon hunter" like that. He leaves the house to check on his dogs.