Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 17
A bad storm is approaching and everyone thinks they should turn around and head back for the buggy except Billy. He hears that his dogs are on the trail of a coon and wants to go forward. It starts to sleet and the judge, Papa, and Grandpa want to turn back. Billy insists on looking for his dogs; he refuses to leave them out in the storm because he knows that Old Dan would die before he came inside from a storm: "'I've been out in storms like this before, all by myself. I've never left my dogs in the woods, and I'm not going to now, even if I have to look for them myself.'" Chapter 17, pg. 199
Papa agrees to go look for the dogs with Billy, and the judge and Grandpa follow behind them. They slip and fall all over the place as the sleet is piling up. Billy gets the idea for Papa to fire his gun. He thinks if Little Ann hears it, it will scare her and she will find Billy. He is right and out of the storm, Little Ann comes running. Billy is so happy to see her. He ties a rope to her and has her lead them to Old Dan. The men think they have gone too far into the woods and start to wonder if Little Ann really knows where she is leading them. Just as the men say they are giving up, Billy prays for Old Dan to bawl one more time and he does. Little Ann leads them right to him. He is covered in ice and bawling "treed." Billy wipes some of the ice away. When he gets back to Papa, he learns that something has happened to Grandpa - he is lost. Little Ann runs away and lets out a loud bawl. She finds Grandpa. He had fallen, twisted his ankle, and gotten knocked unconscious. They all try to revive him and it works. Billy suggests going down into the gully, where they found Old Dan, and building a fire to warm up by. And in the meantime, someone can go for help. Grandpa doesn't like this idea. It is almost morning anyway and he says that someone can go for help when daylight arrives.
They build a large fire and remember the coon. The dogs are at the tree where they left the treed coon, about thirty feet from the fire. Papa, Billy, and the judge go over to the tree and see that it is hollow. Papa decides to cut it down. He needs more wood for the fire anyway, and the coon will probably run out of the tree once it is down. When the tree comes down, three coons run out of it. Old Dan goes after one and Little Ann goes after another. The third coon gets away. When the two coons are finally killed, Papa asks where the third coon went. Billy points into the woods, and with that, Old Dan and Little Ann dart into the woods in search of the third coon. The judge is amazed at how smart they are and how they just read Billy's mind. But Billy cries at the thought of his dogs freezing in this weather. Grandpa assures him that everything will be fine. It is almost daylight and Billy can go and look for them soon. Once the coons are skinned, Billy takes one of the skins, warms it by the fire, and wraps it on Grandpa's sore ankle. Grandpa is thankful.