Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 12
Billy's dogs become known as the best hunting hounds in the Ozarks. Grandpa brags to everyone about Billy and his dogs. One day, Mama asks Billy to go to the mill to get some corn ground. Upon Billy's arrival at Grandpa's store, he runs into Rubin and Rainie Pritchard. They are boys with a bad reputation and no one likes them. They bet Billy two dollars that his hounds cannot catch a coon that has been running around in their part of the country for years. They call him the ghost coon. They also think that their dog is better than Billy's and that the reputation of Billy's dogs is just a bunch of lies. Grandpa encourages Billy to agree to the bet and he does. He gives Billy the money to hold on to. The boys agree to meet tomorrow night up by the Pritchards' part of the country. Grandpa tells Billy how badly he wants him to catch that coon and Billy knows he will. Billy thinks his Grandpa is the best grandfather a boy could have.
Billy goes home and decides not to tell Mama about the bet because she would be mad at Billy for having anything to do with the Pritchard boys. The next night, Billy arrives at the meeting place. He has a talk with his dogs about how much he loves them and how much the bet means to him and Grandpa. The Pritchard boys arrive and Old Dan and Little Ann start the hunt. They are immediately on the trail of the ghost coon. The Pritchard boys tell Billy to just give up, as no dog has ever treed the coon, but Billy refuses: "I told them I wasn't giving up until my dogs did." Chapter 12, pg. 133
They follow the sounds of the dogs to a place where a tree had fallen into the river. It is hanging on a slant from the bank ten feet up. Billy looks and sees Little Ann making her way down the log. Billy knows she is on the trail and trying to pick up the scent. Within seconds, the biggest coon Billy has ever seen jumps out and over Little Ann's head. She chases after it in the big tangle of roots, limbs, and logs. Soon, Old Dan jumps in and runs right after her. They are all running up and down the river bottoms with Billy and the Pritchard boys following behind. At one point Billy looks over and sees Rainie. He is excited and having a good time, not like the miserable boy he usually is. This makes Billy feel good. The sounds of Old Dan's bark signals that he has treed the coon, but Rubin warns that once the coon goes into this particular tree, he disappears, hence the name - ghost coon. Rainie tells Billy to take his money out, for the bet is just as good as over, but Billy knows it is not over yet.