A few days later, things are looking good. Kehaar has confirmed that Holly and the others are on the right course, and, meanwhile, back at Watership Down, the rabbits have been working on enlarging the burrows in anticipation of the does’ arrival. Hazel feels a “happy mischief” building inside him, and knows he is ready for a new adventure. He longs to show the others that he is a capable and intrepid Chief and decides that going in search of the “box full of rabbits” Kehaar saw might be just the ticket.
Though Hazel and the others are safe at Watership Down and are working on establishing a comfortable home, Hazel feels a restless energy and the desire to set out on a journey or mission once again. He thought after leaving Sandleford that all he wanted was a place to feel safe again, but now has realized he has a taste for adventure and danger.
Hazel decides to bring Pipkin along with him to the farm just to have a look around. Pipkin is nervous, but Hazel promises that he will protect him. They set off together in the pre-dawn light, and Hazel is buoyed by a lucky feeling. They approach the sprawling old farm just as dawn breaks, and take stock of the place from a nearby slope. They smell nothing dangerous but see a dog in the yard tied to his kennel by a rope. Feeling brave, they make their way down to the farm and follow the scent of other rabbits to a low-roofed shed.
Hazel’s choices are never not deliberate, and in bringing the small but loyal Pipkin along, he is both rewarding the little rabbit’s loyalty and hoping, perhaps, to strengthen both his endurance and confidence so that he can be a more useful member of the warren.
Inside the shed, Hazel has Pipkin keep watch while he approaches the hutch and introduces himself to the rabbits within. One of them, Boxwood, tells Hazel that there are four of them who live there—two bucks and two does. Boxwood tells Hazel to come around to a wire door at the back so that they can talk more easily. There, Hazel meets the other rabbits—Laurel, Clover, and Haystack. Hazel entices the hutch rabbits with tales of his fellow wild rabbits’ freedom, and the rabbits are intrigued. Their lives in the hutch are “dull but safe.” Though fascinated by Hazel’s way of life, they cannot make up their minds about what to do.
When Hazel learns that there are does living amongst the hutch rabbits, he knows that he needs to find a way to get the rabbits to come with him—but wants to make them feel it’s their idea to leave, and so begins enticing them with romantic descriptions of the wild and the freedom it offers.
Knowing time is running short, Hazel says he’ll leave and return one night soon to release the rabbits and bring them back to Watership Down. Pipkin announces there is a cat in the yard, and Hazel, wanting to keep the hutch rabbits assured of his capability, tries to stay cool. He joins Pipkin, and both stand still as the cat approaches. Just as it pounces, the rabbits take off. Though the cat chases them it is not fast enough, and soon Hazel and Pipkin are back in the safe, lush fields beyond.
Hazel employs a trick worthy of his idol El-ahrairah to avoid a confrontation with the intimidating cat, and narrowly manages to avoid being attacked.