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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
CHAPTER 25 - The Raid
Hazel and Pipkin do not return to the down until the evening. By then Fiver is concerned. Kehaar has already returned to tell the Honeycomb members that Holly and the others reached the big warren. Hazel does not really want to tell Fiver what he has been up to, but Fiver presses him. When Hazel tells him, Fiver accuses him of being a showoff and reminds him that hutch rabbits do not take easily to wild life. Hazel tells him to be quiet and the next day he presents the idea to Bigwig and Blackberry. They decide to take Dandelion, Speedwell and Hawkbit and return to the farm that night, a plan which is delayed by a day due to rain. Fiver is uneasy about it. He has no feelings at all about the farm, but he has tremendous misgivings about Hazel. Hazel promises that he will stay outside at the top of the lane, thus meeting Fiverís fears halfway.
When they do return to the farm, they are joined by Bluebell, Acorn and Pipkin. The first obstacle is a cat which Bigwig attacks and drives off easily in spite of a couple scratches. Then they have to figure out how to get the hutch doors open; they are hinged with strips of leather. Blackberry soon figures out how to chew through them while the hutch rabbits push from the inside.
Once the rabbits are out of the hutch Blackberry has to convince them to follow him. They are uncertain of themselves and have no idea of what to do or even of the lay of the land outside the hutch. They succeed in getting Boxwood and Clover to follow them, but the other two rabbits remain in the farmyard, too dazed and confused to move. The wild rabbits are forced to run up the lane when the cats show up and the dog begins to carry on. Once they are safe, Hazel and Bigwig go back in to try to get the other two hutch rabbits. Just then a car comes up the drive; the lights momentarily stun the rabbits, but the wild ones are able to collect themselves by closing their eyes and running. The men stop and begin to chase the hutch rabbits; this jolts Haystack into realizing that she does want to go with them. She runs with Hazel and Dandelion. Dandelion and Haystack get away, but Hazel is wounded by a gunshot. He crawls into a drain hole and loses consciousness.
By the time the rabbits get back to the Honeycomb, Holly and his crew have also returned from the big warren. They are wounded except Silver and they have brought no new rabbits with them.
Hazelís idea succeeds in getting two more does for the Honeycomb. However, he did it for the wrong reasons, and it almost cost him his life. He was vaguely jealous of Holly and the others who took the trip to the big warren. Perhaps if Holly succeeded, eventually it would have meant putting him in a position of leadership. While not exactly wanting to upstage Holly, he does want to show that he can do anything Holly can do. He really didnít need to feel that way as he has already proven his skills on the trip to Watership Down.
Fiver has overcome his earlier timidness. He hunts down Hazel and bluntly calls him a showoff; this time it is Bigwig who realizes that if Fiver says it, Hazel ought to listen. However, Hazel is determined to carry out the raid. Fiverís insights also seem to be getting more specific in that he can tell exactly which rabbit will be in danger and which ones will be unharmed.
CHAPTER 26 - Fiver Beyond
Fiver has a dream/vision in which he sees a hole in which Hazel is still alive. He convinces Blackberry to go with him to help save Hazel.
CHAPTER 27 -"You Canít Imagine it Unless Youíve Been There"
The Honeycomb has achieved the addition of three hutch rabbits-one buck and two does. Holly explains why their trip was unsuccessful. The big warren is called Efrafa, and it is highly organized and tightly controlled. Great care is taken to keep the warren hidden from men, but in return for their safety the rabbits have no freedom. Ruled by a large vicious rabbit named "Woundwort," the rabbits are marked (by means of a bite) on some part of their bodies and organized according to those marks. In addition to the well trained and merciless Owsla, the rabbits kowtow to a council of rabbits. The Council police are called Owslafa and they administer brutal punishment to any rabbit that tries to escape Efrafa or steps out of line in any way. The warren is so huge that the does have stopped bearing any young, but Woundwort will not allow any to leave. Furthermore, those who enter unknowingly are added to the warren and forced to simply remain.
Not knowing the true condition of things in the warren, Holly presents his request for a few extra does. Woundwort refuses and tells them what mark they will be assigned to. They make friends with a doe named Hyzenthlay who tells them that the system isnít working anymore, and they witness the brutalizing of Blackavar who had tried to escape shortly before they had arrived. Holly realizes that they need to escape before the council starts marking them. Recalling the story of the kingís lettuce, he comes up with a plan for tricking one of the sentries into believing that the council has sent for him. When the sentry is out of sight, the four rabbits run for it, fighting off two more sentries on the way. They run in the opposite direction from which they came which takes them across the iron road (railroad). Holly explains that Lord Frith performed a miracle and saved them just in time by sending a roaring creature by on the iron road, effectively separating them from the trailing Efrafa sentries.
Efrafa is the opposite extreme from the Cowslip warren. Where Cowslipís group were free to come and go as they pleased and had almost no structure at all to the warren, Efrafa is so highly structured that the rabbits live in constant fear of their own kind. The tamed meadow rabbits were so accustomed to the comings and goings of men that they had learned to accept it and even look to the men for food even though it frequently cost a life or two. Efrafa is totally hidden from men. As long as they abide by the rules of never asking "where" and of never speaking of the wires, the rabbits have a relaxed, if not exactly happy, interchange with one another and can run about their tunnels as they see fit. Efrafaís tunnels have limited connections and the rabbits of the different marks rarely communicate with each other, relying solely on the council police for instructions and information. Where the meadow rabbits choose ignorance, the Efrafa rabbits have it forced on them unless they are part of the privileged class. Neither solution is ideal. The goal of the Honeycomb will be to provide some sort of happy medium with protection and structure and yet freedom.