Where the Red Fern Grows Chapters 17 - 18 Summary

As Billy, Grandpa, Papa, and the judge continue to hunt in the runoff, Papa notices the sky is turning gray. He thinks a storm is coming on and is concerned about their safety. The wind picks up, along with it sleet starts to fall covering everything in a layer of ice.

Old Dan and Little Ann don't care about the weather conditions, all they want to do is hunt. Unfortunately, the wind is so loud it makes hearing the hounds almost impossible. The judge, afraid of becoming lost in the woods during the storm, tries to convince the others they should return to camp. Billy doesn't want to leave his dogs and pleads with them to stay out a little longer. He tells them he has never left his hounds during a hunt and he isn't going to leave them now.

His father explains to Billy a man can freeze to death in the storm, so it is prudent to return to camp. Billy pleads to stay out with his dogs. Papa tells Billy the dogs will abandon the hunt and return to camp on their own. Billy, who knows his dogs better than anyone else, tells him the hounds will not give up on a hunt, especially Old Dan, who will die before he leaves a treed raccoon.

The men decide to continue looking for the hounds. They hear Old Dan baying, but can't locate him, so Billy asks his father to fire his gun, in the hopes the dogs will hear it. It works as Little Ann comes running to the men and she is insistent they follow her. They follow her and find Old Dan ice covered and treed in a gully. After freeing Old Dan from the ice, Billy hears his father and the judge talking about Grandpa. It seems they don't know where he is, so they retrace their steps to find him. He is lying unconscious on the ground and his right foot is caught in a fork of a tree. First, they make sure he is alive and then they carry him to the area where they found Old Dan. The area is protected from the wind and they can start a fire to warm the old man.

The dogs are still bawling at the tree where Old Dan was found. Papa discovers the tree is hollow and with the help of the judge manages to topple it. Out of the tree runs three raccoons, two of which the dogs manage to catch and kill. The third one runs away and the dogs take off after it, which causes Billy to cry, for he fears his dogs will die in the storm.

Just before the new day begins, the storm ceases and snow descends on the woods. Billy hears a noise in the woods, so does his papa, it is a group of men from the camp who are searching for them. It seems the horses that pulled the buggy broke loose and returned to the camp, which made the men think Billy and the others were in distress. They have been searching all night for the little group of men.

The men are surprised to hear the dogs are still out guarding a coon they have treed. Billy is told he needs this raccoon pelt to win the championship. Then one of the men arrives to tell the others he has found Old Dan and Little Ann. He tells them they are frozen solid, after hearing this news Billy faints. Mr. Benson, the man who has found the dogs, explains that they are not dead just covered in ice. In fact, the two dogs have been circling the tree all night, which the other men think they did in order to keep from freezing to death.

After Grandpa is taken back to camp, to receive medical treatment, the rest set out to find the dogs. They are found still circling the tree. They are thawed out after being set by a fire for a while. Then a hunter fires his gun and the raccoon jumps down from the tree. Old Dan and Little Ann kill the raccoon.

Back at camp, Grandpa is waiting to be taken to town, so his foot can be put into a cast. He refuses to leave until he sees his grandson presented with the gold cup. Not only has Billy won the championship, but he also wins the jackpot money. He keeps the gold cup, but turns over the three hundred dollars in winnings over to his father.

His father and he pack up and head for home. There they learn Grandpa will be home in a few days, which is good news. Mama can't believe the good fortune of her son, she tells Papa her prayers have been answered after she sees the money.

The family celebrates with a large meal and Mama brings out special food to Little Ann and Old Dan. Then she gets down on her knees and prays, which confuses Billy because he doesn't know why she is praying. He later hears his parents talking, they talk about Grandpa needing some help in his store because of his injury. He thinks this explains his mother's reaction of praying and crying at the sight of the money. He feels they want him to work at his grandpa's store, which is fine with him.

Billy faces a deadly storm with his papa and grandpa. He thinks his dogs might die in the storm and is overcome after hearing they have been frozen, but in the end the dogs are well enough to kill the raccoon they have treed. His parents are very happy he won the competition, especially his mother after she sees the jackpot money. Billy is confused as to why the sight of the money overwhelms her. He later thinks his parents want him to work in his grandfather's store, which makes him happy.

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