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There was this boy named Billy who lives on a farm. He wants two good hunting dogs, very badly, but his Pap cannot afford any for him. Billy decides that he has to work hard, selling fruit and bait to fishermen, so eventually he has enough money for the dogs. He gives the money to his grandfather, who orders the dogs for him. Billy sneaks off in the middle of the night to go to town and pick them up. While in town, other children pick on him, but he stands up for himself and is helped by the local sheriff. On his way home, he and his two pups decide to sleep in a cave. Outside, they hear a mountain lion, and the pups bravely howl back. He decides to name them Old Dan and Little Ann. He can see that Old Dan is very brave but not to smart, and that Little Ann is very smart but not the bravest.
Once home, he wants to begin training them. He has to have a raccoon hide to train them with. His grandfather shows him a way to set a trap that will catch any alright sized animal. Just when he is about to give up on the traps, he catches a raccoon. The next day he begins to train Old Dan and Little Ann happily. By the time raccoon season starts in the fall, they are ready. On the first night, his dogs chase a raccoon up into the biggest tree imaginable. Billy immediately sees that it will take days to cut down, but he is determined to cut it down, because he told his dogs that if they chase and corner a raccoon he would take care of the rest. His dogs are counting on him so he can’t let them down. His parents bring him food. His grandfather then shows him how to make a scarecrow; so that the raccoon in the tree will stay there and then he comes home with dinner.
Billy goes raccoon hunting almost every night after that. His father relieves him of his chores, and Billy gives him the money from the raccoon skins he sells. Sometimes, raccoons try to trick his dogs, and Old Dan gets into trouble but he is a tough dog. One night, Dan gets stuck in a muskrat hole.
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"Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls." 123HelpMe.com. 14 Dec 2019
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One day, Billy and his grandfather make a bet with Ruben and Rainie Pritchard, that Billy's hounds can catch the legendary "ghost coon." The Pritchard boys set out with Billy to see if Old Dan and Little Ann can catch the ghost raccoon. The raccoon leads the dogs on a long, tiring, complicated chase, and the Pritchard boys want to give up, but Billy is too determined. Finally, when the dogs have the raccoon up in a tree, Billy refuses to kill her. Just as Ruben starts to beat up Billy, Old Dan and Little Ann begin to attack the Pritchards' dog. Ruben runs to attack the dogs with an axe, but slips, and falls and kills himself.
Billy's grandfather enters Billy in a raccoon-hunting contest. He, his grandfather, and his father take a buggy to the contest. It is filled with adult raccoon hunters with expensive gear and beautiful hounds. Somehow, Little Ann wins the beauty contest on the first day. The other coon hunters are very kind to Billy especially since they saw he was new but good at hunting. Billy and his dogs qualify for the championship round. While Billy, his dad, his grandfather, and a judge are out hunting with raccoons, a winter blizzard begins. They lose track of the dogs, and Billy's grandfather falls and badly sprains his ankle. They stop and build a fire as day begins to break. Soon enough, they find the dogs, covered with ice. They had just enough raccoon kills to win. Everyone at the tournament cheers. Billy is especially happily because he won the tournament and also won a jackpot of $300.
Billy's mom and sisters are overjoyed. Billy keeps up his hunting. A couple of weeks later one night while hunting his dogs chase a mountain lion up into the tree. Old Dan howls defiantly, and the mountain lion feeling threatened, attacked Old Dan. Billy is horrified and isn‘t sure what to do, after a moment with his axe he enters the fight, hoping to save his dogs life, but they end up having to save him. Eventually, the dogs defeat the mountain lion, but Old Dan is horribly wounded and torn up. He dies the next day. Billy is heartbroken and was having trouble dealing with the loss of his beloved dog. Little Ann is so sad, and missed Old Dan that she loses her will to live, and dies a few days later. Billy's dad tries to tell him that it is all for the best, because with the money Billy has earned, the family hopes to move to town from the mountains.
Billy does not completely recover until on the day of the move; he goes to visit the dogs' graves and finds a giant red fern growing out of the grave. According to Indian legend, only an angel can plant a red fern and give it the ability to grow. Billy and his family look at the fern in shock, but at the same time Billy is happy because something so unique is growing where his beloved dogs lay, and at that point he feels he is finally ready to move into town.