Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 4
Billy waits and waits for Grandpa to let him know about the dogs. Finally, he tells Billy that he got a hold of the kennel by mail and he ordered the dogs in Billy's name. It turns out that the price went down $5 for each dog, so Billy gets $10 back. He is so excited for his dogs. The only problem is that the mail buggy cannot carry dogs, so Billy will have to pick them up at the mail depot in Tahlequah.
That night Billy goes home and almost spills the news to his family about the dogs. He asks how far away Kentucky is and his parents get suspicious. The next few days go by and Grandpa tells Billy that he knows a man who happens to be riding out to the depot in Tahlequah; Billy can ride with him if he wants. Billy is overjoyed and cannot wait. He becomes so impatient that later that night, he decides to pack some food and get the dogs himself.
He runs off that night into the mountains and heads straight for Tahlequah. He keeps the river to his left and the railroad to his right to guide him. Billy is sore from the traveling and rests to eat. His feet are all cut up and he is tired. When he finally arrives in Tahlequah, people stare at him, for he looks disheveled. He is amazed at the shops, people, and merchandise in this big country town; he has never been to a town like this before. At one point, he stops at a shop and stares at his reflection in the window; this is the first time he has ever seen himself. Billy now understands why people looked at him as they did. His hair is long and a mess, his feet are cut up and dirty, and his clothes are messy.
After looking in the store window, Billy thinks of his family. He decides to buy them gifts as a way of making amends for leaving without telling them where he was going. For his sisters and mother, he buys several yards of cloth and a large sack of candy. And for his father, he buys new overalls.
He leaves the store and heads for the depot. Along his way, he passes through a residential section of town. Billy is in awe of all of the beautiful houses, with their different colors and manicured lawns. He passes a school and sees the children outside playing. They are jumping out of what appears to Billy to be a pipe to see who can get the farthest. One child walks up to Billy and asks him if he attends school there. Billy says he does not. He tells them that he lives in the hills and gets schooled at home by his mother. The children laugh at him and call him a "hillbilly." As they start to run towards him, the school bell signals them back. Billy is now alone and feels badly. He tries the pipe out and ends up flying out and landing with a great loud smack. He hears a woman laughing at him; it is an old woman-farmer. He grabs his things, gets up, and heads for the depot. He cannot understand these town people. They either stare or laugh at him.