Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 13
The boys and the dogs are at the tree where the ghost coon supposedly ran up, but the coon is nowhere in sight. Rubin and Rainie bade Billy to give up, but he won't. He won't give up until his dogs give up and Little Ann is still sniffing around the fence that is behind the tree. Billy climbs the tree twice, but cannot find the coon. It just seems to have disappeared. He climbs down and finally gives up; he give the two dollars over to Rubin. Seconds later, a breeze blows and Little Ann whoops; she caught a smell of the coon's scent from the breeze. Little Ann goes over to the gate post. Now, Billy realizes that the coon is inside the post. He pokes it with a stick and the coon runs out. The dogs chase him back up the tree. As Billy climbs the tree to finally kill the coon, something happened inside of him that changes his mind:
"As I sat there on the limb, looking at the old fellow, he cried again. Something came over me. I didn't want to kill him. I hollered down and told Rubin I didn't want to kill the ghost coon. He hollered back, 'Are you crazy?' I told him I wasn't crazy. I just didn't want to kill him. I climbed down. Rubin was mad. He said, 'What's the matter with you?' 'Nothing,' I told him. 'I just don't have the heart to kill the coon.'" Chapter 13, pg. 141-2
The boys hear a noise in the distance. It is the Pritchards' dog, a big blue tick hound. Old Dan and the dog growl at each other and Billy warns Rubin to take the dog away before the two dogs get into a fight. Rubin refuses; he says that his dog can take of himself and Billy is the one that should be worried about his own dog getting hurt. Billy asks for his money back, as he did tree the coon and after all, that is what the bet was for. Rubin refuses and insists that the bet was for Billy to kill the coon. Rubin wrestles Billy to the ground and warns him not to mention any of this to his grandfather. As they are struggling, Rainie yells out that Billy's dogs are killing his dog. Rubin grabs Billy's ax and runs over to the dog fight, which involves Old Dan and Little Ann tearing the Pritchards' dog up alive. He is going to kill Billy's dogs. Billy quickly runs after him and trips him by putting a stick between his legs. He runs over to the dog fight to try and break it up. The Pritchard dog is just about lifeless and Little Ann will not give up her grip on the dog's neck. Billy manages to get Old Dan away, but Little Ann will not stop. Billy calls Rainie over for help, but Rainie is standing over Rubin. He will not come over to help Billy, nor will he answer Billy. He is just standing there paralyzed with fear over what he sees on the ground.
After Billy gets both of his dogs away, he ties them to the fence and walks over to Rainie. Rainie runs away and disappears into the darkness. Billy looks down and sees the awful sight. When Rubin fell on the ground, he fell on the ax - it went into his stomach. Rubin asks Billy to take it out and he does. The blood gushes everywhere, even on Billy's hands. Blood comes out of Rubin's mouth and Billy knows he is dead. Billy looks up into the tree and sees the ghost coon. Even though everything happened because of the coon, Billy feels no hatred towards him, and he is not sorry that he didn't kill him. He thinks of his mother and wants to go home.
Billy goes home, wakes his parents up, and tells them everything. Papa gets out of bed and immediately goes to get Grandpa. Grandpa is the only person with the authority to move the body. Papa is gone all of the next day and Billy waits impatiently for his return. When he finally returns, he tells Billy about Rubin. He and Grandpa got Rubin and met the Pritchard family as they were on their way to their house with Rubin's body. Papa tried to explain what happened the best he could. The Pritchard family is going to take care of everything. Rainie is in a bad state of shock and may need to see a doctor in town. Billy feels so badly about what happened. He keeps having nightmares and cannot get Rubin's face out of his mind. He wants to do something, but he doesn't know what. He talks to Mama and she says that some people, like the Pritchards, just don't want to be bothered. Billy tells her that he think it is dangerous to have an ax while hunting and so he is going to get a gun. Mama gets furious with this idea and forbids it.
Billy leaves the house with some old, fake flowers his sisters had made a while back. He walks all the way upriver to where the Pritchards live with his dogs trailing behind him. He arrives at the fresh grave, and puts the flowers there, carefully, so that no one in the house will hear him. On his way out, he accidentally kicks looses a large rock. The noise alerts the blue tick hound and he starts barking. Mrs. Pritchard comes out of the house and looks around, but she doesn't see Billy. She sees the flowers on the grave, and walks back towards the house with tears in her eyes. Billy feels better now and makes his way home. He promises his dogs to take them out hunting that night.