Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 5
Billy arrives at the depot. He is a nervous wreck. The stationmaster sees Billy standing around and approaches him. He tells Billy that he is waiting for a boy from the hills to come and pick up some pups. Billy can hardly stand it because he knows he is that boy. He tells the man he is Billy Colman, the boy from the hills who is supposed to pick up the dogs. The man leads Billy to the back where the dogs are in a box. He takes them out of the box and Billy is so overwhelmed with joy that he cannot even move his feet. He is so filled with love for these pups that he begins to cry.
"I wanted so much to step over and pick them up. Several times I tried to move my feet, but they seemed to be nailed to the floor. I knew the pups were mine, all mine, yet I couldn't move. My heart started aching like a drunk grasshopper. I tried to swallow and couldn't. My Adam's apple wouldn't work. One pup started my way. I held my breath. On he came until I felt a scratchy little foot on mine. The other pup followed. A warm puppy tongue caressed my sore foot. I heard the stationmaster say, "They already know you." I knelt down and gathered them in my arms. I buried my face between their wiggling bodies and cried." Chapter 5, pg. 37
Billy puts the dogs in his sack and begins to walk back through town. Everyone stares at him again and this makes him feel awful. He does not understand what everyone is laughing and staring at. Some kids his own age gather around him and call him "dog boy." One even steps on his toe and makes it bleed. Then, the boy pulls one of the pup's ears. Billy is outraged. He puts down his sack and punches the boy in the face; the boy falls to his feet, but then the others step in and beat Billy to the ground. They punch and kick him until finally a marshal arrives and helps Billy to his feet. The marshal asks Billy about the pups and Billy explains how he saved money for two years to buy them. The marshal is impressed with Billy's maturity and offers to buy him a soda pop. They walk to a general store and Billy has pop for the first time in his life. He really likes it and appreciates the marshal's kindness.
After the pop, Billy leaves and heads for home. The pups are heavier than Billy thought they would be. At nightfall, Billy sets up camp in a cave. He makes a fire and cooks dinner for himself and the pups (three boiled eggs and the rest of the salt pork). Afterwards, they all have some candy for desert. Lying down, Billy plays with the pups, observing their features and differences. The male is larger, a deeper red, and more aggressive (he goes near the fire, while the female does not). The female pup is very small and powerless, but is smarter than the male dog. Billy is confidant that the combination of the two dogs (power and brains) will make for a great hunting team.
In the middle of the night, Billy is awakened by a scream that he says sounds like a woman's scream. He realizes it is a mountain lion and he is scared to death. The dogs wake up and the boy dog goes over to the mouth of the cave and whoops out, as if to compete with the scream of the mountain lion. Then, he rushes back over to the girl pup, and both pups are scared. Billy rebuilds the fire to keep the lion away; he gets angrier and angrier at the thought of something hurting his pups. He says he is willing to die to protect his dogs. Billy and the dogs sit up the whole night watching the lion, and by morning, the lion finally leaves.