Billy’s Father / Papa Quotes in Where the Red Fern Grows
Papa set me on his lap and we had a good talk. He told me how hard times were, and that it looked like a man couldn't get a fair price for anything he raised. Some of the farmers had quit farming and were cutting railroad ties so they could feed their families. If things didn't get better, that's what he'd have to do. He said he'd give anything if he could get some good hounds for me, but there didn't seem to be any way he could right then.
I went off to bed with my heart all torn up in little pieces, and cried myself to sleep.
Papa whacked him again and it was all over. […]
After the coon was killed, I walked over. Papa was trying to get the coon's paw from the trap. […] A sorrowful look came over Papa's face… […] "Billy," he said, "l want you to take a hammer and pull the nails from every one of those traps. […] I don't think this is very sportsmanlike.”
“Please go just a little further," I begged. "I just know we'll hear them."
Still no one spoke or made a move to go on.
Stepping over to my father, I buried my face in his old mackinaw coat. Sobbing, I pleaded with him not to turn back. He patted my head. “Billy," he said, “a man could freeze to death in this storm, and besides, your dogs will give up and come in."
"That's what has me worried," I cried. 'They won't come in. They won't, Papa. Little Ann might, but not Old Dan. He'd die before he'd leave a coon in a tree."
I heard the judge say to my father, “This beats anything I have ever seen. Why, those dogs can read that boy's mind.” […]
Papa said, "Yes, I know what you mean. I've seen them do things that I couldn't understand. I'd never heard of hounds that ever had any affection for anyone, but these dogs are different. Did you know they won't hunt with anyone but him, not even me?"
"l never saw anything like it. Little Ann wouldn't have fought the lion if it hadn't been for Old Dan. All she was doing was helping him. He wouldn't quit. He just stayed right in there till the end. I even had to pry his jaws loose from the lion's throat after the lion was dead."
Glancing at Old Dan, Papa said, “It's in his blood, Billy. He's a hunting hound, and the best one I ever saw. He only has two loves—you and hunting. That's all he knows."
'Don't touch it, Mama," my oldest sister whispered. "It was planted by an angel."
Mama smiled and asked, "Have you heard the legend?"
'Yes, Mama," my sister said. “Grandma told me the story and I believe it, too."
With a serious look on his face, Papa said, "These hills are full of legends. Up until now I've never paid much attention to them, but now I don't know. Perhaps there is something to the legend of the red fern. Maybe this is God's way of helping Billy understand why his dogs died."
“I’m sure it is, Papa," I said, "and I do understand. I feel different now, and I don't hurt any more."