Bigwig commends Holly on being brave and intrepid enough to navigate himself and the others back to safety, but Holly insists that the only reason they made it out of Efrafa is that Frith intended for them to do so. Holly helps the hutch rabbits up to silflay, offering to show them a good patch of nice grass.
Holly’s belief in the power of Frith’s will shows that even though he has been through a nightmare, his faith has not been entirely shaken.
Above ground, Bigwig catches the smell of Blackberry approaching. He bounds up the hill and breathlessly tells Bigwig that Hazel is alive but wounded, and that Fiver is with him at the bottom of the hill. Blackberry explains the extent of Hazel’s injury—though the bone is not broken and though Fiver and Blackberry have cleaned it, Hazel is weak from loss of blood. He predicts that Hazel won’t be able to manage making his way up the hill tonight.
The good news that Hazel is alive and will be coming home soon signals renewed hope for the rabbits in a time of total despondency.
Bigwig arrives at the bottom of the hill to find the exhausted Hazel sleeping and Fiver feeding. Bigwig spends the night guarding his friend, and in the morning, Kehaar returns. They tell the bird what has happened, and Kehaar volunteers to get the “liddle black stones” out of Hazel’s wound. Hazel wakes up and agrees to let Kehaar take a look. Kehaar digs two shotgun pellets out of Hazel’s haunch with his beak.
Just as Hazel and the others nursed Kehaar back to health and made him feel at home, he now returns the favor for them.
Hazel stays at the foot of the hill for three days, gathering his strength. Fiver stays with him, attending to his wound and keeping him company. The others come to visit, and Holly relays the story of his time in Efrafa. Hazel laments that both the excursion to Nuthanger and the journey to Efrafa were calamitous. Though Clover and Haystack are adjusting well to the warren, Holly anticipates fights breaking out over them when the breeding season arrives. Holly asks Hazel what they are supposed to do, and Hazel replies that what they must do is impossible: they must return to Efrafa and get some does out. Though the whole idea “scares [him] stiff,” Hazel knows it is the only way to keep their new warren alive—and since it can’t be done by “fighting or fair words,” it will have to be done “by means of a trick.”
Hazel has gotten his band of rabbits to Watership Down, secured some does, and bounced back from the edge of death itself. Now, though, he and the others are discovering that they need more than they thought they did to feel truly at home. As their needs expand, so too does Hazel’s confidence that he can give his people what they need—just as El-ahrairah did for his.
Hazel turns to Blackberry and suggests he be the one to devise a great trick which will get the does out of Efrafa, dodge a pursuit, and get out of the reach of the Wide Patrol. Blackberry says he’ll need Fiver’s help. Hazel declares that he’ll return to the warren with Fiver the next morning and they’ll all set to work on a plan. Holly warns Hazel that returning to Efrafa will get them all killed, but Fiver says he has faith they can pull it off.
Fiver’s role in the warren is a curious one. He is a seer who doesn’t seem to have come into his powers yet. His visions are revered as often as they’re ignored, and he doesn’t seem to have the confidence to declare when something is a hunch versus when it’s a vision.