That night, the rabbits sleep snug in their new temporary burrows. They are so tired that they sleep well past dawn. When Hazel at last awakens, he goes up to pass hraka and nibble at some grass. Looking out over the fields, he is grateful that his band has found their place. Blackberry comes up too after a while, and the two discuss what to do now that their journey is over. Blackberry points out that there are no does to do the digging, but Hazel suggests that their group can overcome their natures and form new traditions. Excited, the two of them scout out a new place on the down to start digging.
The rabbits enjoy their first night in their new burrow and catch up on some much-needed rest. The first thing in the morning, though, they discuss the work that it still to be done to truly make the place feel like home. They are enthusiastic and motivated rather than daunted, though, and look forward to establishing a warren in earnest.
After the other rabbits have woken up and silflayed, Hazel leads the group to a wooded part of the down—the place he and Blackberry believe the digging should begin. Fiver and Pipkin are excited, and immediately set to work. Soon the others follow suit. When it’s time for a break, Hazel and Bigwig lead a group down the slope to get at some better grass, and Hazel and Bigwig discuss construction. Hazel says he would like to copy one thing from Cowslip’s from warren—a great meeting-room in the middle.
This passage shows that though the rabbits have endured scary, traumatic things—such as the close call at Cowslip’s warren—they have also learned to take the good with the bad, and find inspiration, knowledge, and experience even in the darkest of times.
When darkness begins to fall, Bigwig suggests they return to the top of the hill. They all set out, but Speedwell signals that he has heard something coming, and they take cover in a ditch. Dandelion says he heard the noise, too, but can’t pick up the thing’s scent, as it’s downwind. Soon, the others hear a wavering wailing—frightened, they believe that the legendary Black Rabbit of Inlé has come for them. As the noise grows closer, they can make out words—“All dead,” the voice says, crying, before shouting Bigwig’s Lapine name, Thlayli.
This passage shows that many of the rabbits can hardly believe they’ve managed to survive all the way to their new home, and still believe that the spirit of death is waiting for them around any corner.
Bigwig, believing that the Black Rabbit has indeed come for him, prepares to step out of the ditch to meet his fate. Hazel tells Bigwig to stay put and steps out to see who’s there himself. The loyal Dandelion goes with him. It is not the Black Rabbit, though, whom Hazel finds himself face to face with—it is the exhausted, injured Holly, former captain of the Sandleford Owsla.
Though Bigwig is ready to accept his fate, Hazel—intrepid and contrarian as ever—is determined to face down and question even death itself. The arrival of Holly shows that though the rabbits have physically escaped their past and former home, there is still unfinished business where those they left behind are concerned.