Dandelion runs, attempting to dodge the dog, who is close behind him, without leading him astray from the path to Blackberry. He briefly hides in a shed, but then runs back out to draw the dog onto the right path. As he runs, he realizes that the dog is getting tired. At last, he arrives at Blackberry’s post, and, exhausted, drops into a ditch to hide while Blackberry, relay-style, begins leading the dog towards Watership Down. Blackberry too, though, has trouble keeping the dog moving in a straight line, and Dandelion joins the effort so that they can bring the dog up the down at a fast-enough speed to frighten the Efrafans.
Blackberry and Dandelion have been given a difficult, dangerous task—but they do not let their fear get the better of them, even in the run’s most trying moments, because they know that the fate of their warren depends solely, in this moment, upon them.
Bigwig defends the tunnel against Woundwort. Holly sees that Bigwig is bleeding and offers to take his place, but Bigwig insists this fight is his. Woundwort urges Bigwig not to throw his life away and offers him the chance to come back to Efrafa and take command of any Mark he wants. Bigwig curses Woundwort, realizing that the cunning General is trying to lure him above ground to be killed. Woundwort leaps forward onto Bigwig, and Bigwig is unable to push the massive rabbit off. Woundwort bites Bigwig’s neck, but as his nose has been injured, he cannot breathe, and releases the hold. Bigwig tries to get up but feels faint. When he stands again, Woundwort is gone.
Bigwig and Woundwort are true adversaries—though Hazel is the leader of Watership Down, Bigwig is its bravest physical defender, and he has a personal bone to pick with Woundwort after witnessing the violence, pain, mutilation, and destruction the rabbit has wrought on his own people. Bigwig is determined to finish Woundwort himself not just because he’s been given orders to defend the run, but because he wants to see the evil rabbit stopped.
Out in the Honeycomb, the exhausted Woundwort tells Vervain to finish Bigwig off. Vervain is shocked that Woundwort has been beaten. Woundwort goes to check on how the digging is going. Groundsel and the others nearly have one run open. Vervain approaches Woundwort and admits he is frightened to approach Bigwig. Woundwort calls Vervain a coward and goes off to finish Bigwig himself. Bigwig surprises him from a new vantage point, though; he is severely injured, but ready to fight some more. Woundwort is surprised as he feels fear come over him—he does not want to attack Bigwig again.
Though Woundwort has put up a good fight, he is weakening, and even his officers know it. Woundwort himself is aware of having been bested, in earnest, for the first time by Bigwig and the others, and is shocked by his own decimated emotional, physical, and psychological state.
Woundwort again tries to lure Bigwig out by warning him that they’ll soon have finished digging around the run, but Bigwig states that he will defend this run until his death because his Chief has told him to. Woundwort is shocked—he had assumed that Bigwig was the Chief of Watership Down and wonders how big and terrifying their real Chief must be. Woundwort retreats to gather his full forces and bring them down to fight. When he returns to the Honeycomb, though, a small rabbit is standing there. Woundwort tells Vervain to kill him, but as Vervain approaches the small rabbit, the little one speaks up. He says he is sorry. Vervain asks the rabbit what he is sorry for; the small rabbit answers, “For your death.” Vervain, filled with horror, flees up a nearby run.
In this passage, the Watership Down rabbits, knowing that they cannot win in a physical fight, try some psychological warfare instead in a last-ditch effort to save their home from the Efrafan invaders. Both Bigwig and Fiver—separately, but around the same time—manage to emotionally and psychologically upend their opponents, inspiring fear, doubt, and confusion in the highest-ranking rabbits in all Efrafa.
Above ground, Woundwort struggles to contain his troops’ fear and desire to retreat. Suddenly, Campion dashes around the corner and tells them all to run for their lives. Two Watership Down rabbits streak past—close behind them is a great black dog. The Efrafans flee, but Woundwort stands his ground. As it springs upon him, they hear him yelling, “Come back, you fools! Dogs aren’t dangerous! Come back and fight!”
The Efrafans have been defeated—both outfought and outwitted—but only Woundwort refuses to see that the end is nigh. His infamous, once even admirable refusal to cower in the face of a threat from elil is, in this passage—at least seemingly—his certain downfall.