Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 9
Billy is exhausted from chopping. His muscles ache and as he is just about ready to give up, he hears Grandpa coming in his buggy. Grandpa tells Billy that he needs to eat and rest if he is going to chop down that tree. Billy says he cannot leave the tree or else the coon will get out. Grandpa shows Billy an old trick so that he is able to leave the tree and still keep the coon in it. Together, they make a scarecrow. The coon will think it is a real man and be too frightened to get down out of the tree. Billy is thrilled, and as they begin to leave to go home, Old Dan is reluctant. He wants to stay by the tree. Grandpa and Billy are pleased with his determination to catch the coon. Grandpa says he is a real coon hound.
They arrive home and eat a delicious meal of chicken and dumplings. Mama has been so worried about Billy and does not like his hunting at all. Papa assures her everything will be fine. Grandpa tells Billy of a new fad he heard about in New England where everyone is wearing coonskin coats. Billy gets excited because this means the price of coonskins will go up and Billy could make a lot of money if he catches a lot of coonskins.
The next morning, Billy wakes up from a sound sleep. He still aches, but is ready to head back out to the tree. Just as breakfast is being put on the table, they hear the sound of Little Ann. She is on the porch whimpering and Old Dan is not with her. She signals that he is in the woods. They are all amazed at both of the dogs - Old Dan for his determined nature to go back to the tree and Little Ann for her smarts and consideration to come and get Billy. Billy darts out into the woods immediately looking for Old Dan. He finds him right where he thought he would be - by the big tree. Just as Billy is about to scold Little Ann for not being as committed to watching the coon as Old Dan, he looks and sees two beds in the leaves. He realizes that Old Dan was not out all night alone. Little Ann was with him and she had returned home to get Billy. Billy is so pleased with his dogs.
Billy starts to chop the tree again. His hands are sore and he wants to quit, but he doesn't. His hands have blisters and when they pop, the pain is too much to bear. Old Dan and Little Ann lick Billy's sores and snuggle up against him. Billy feels badly about quitting because he feels like he would have killed the tree for nothing, and he knows that is not right.
He asks God to give him the strength to chop down the tree. As he turns around to finish the job, he hears a crackling sounds and sees the top of the tree starting to blow in the wind. All of the other trees around the big tree are steady - not a movement among one of them. Billy knows that it is time for the tree to fall. It finally falls and Old Dan darts after the coon. He bangs into a log and is hurt. Little Ann goes after the coon and wrestles with it. Just as she is about to lose the fight, Old Dan comes back in to help her. Together, they catch their first coon. Billy is thrilled. They go home and show everyone. Mama is still worried about Billy's safety, but again, Papa assures her everything will be fine.
Later, when Billy and Papa are skinning the coon to put on the smokehouse wall, Billy asks Papa about the wind. Billy knows that it wasn't just any wind that blew the tree over. He knows that his prayer was answered and that he was helped by God.