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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
PART IV: Hazel-rah
CHAPTER 39 - The Bridges
The rabbits ride the boat down the river, most of them unaware of their exposure or of where they are headed. They only know that they have escaped from Woundwort. They do not realize, until Kehaar shows up and points it out, that they are floating parallel to the path they had used earlier to reach Efrafa. Kehaar tells them that they will be in trouble if they remain sitting where they are as they may not have head room to clear the bridge. Hazel understands just in time to get the rabbits into the bottom of the boat. Acorn and one of the does gets knocked down by the bridge. Kehaar is unable to help Hazel stop the boat or get the rabbits onto the bank, but he tells them that another bridge is coming.
The second bridge is held up by four arches, more like culverts, through which the boat cannot pass. It punts up against the bridge, unable to carry them any further. Kehaar is unable to make them understand that they should swim through the one of the tunnels formed by the bridge arches, so he swims through himself, then flies back over the bridge to show them that it can be done. Even Hazel is unsure, not knowing how he will climb the bank if he does get through the arch. Fiver comes to the rescue and offers to swim through first, telling them he is quite sure it will be all right. A group of men startle them by crossing the bridge over their heads. This gives Hazel the courage he needs to make the swim. Pipkin follows him and they soon find that the water on the other side of the bridge runs into a shallow pool and a swampy area that they can easily climb out of. Then Blackavar makes the swim, and he and Hazel go around the bridge on the land to urge the rest into the water. It takes a long time to get all the does off the bridge, but eventually they get out of the river and mud and into a wooded area with some undergrowth where they catch some much needed sleep.
Kehaarís friendship is tested as what seems easy to him seems impossible to the rabbits. He thinks they are rather stupid, and it is long past time for him to be out over the ocean with the rest of his kind, but he does not give up on them. Blackavar surprises Hazel in showing remarkable resiliency and courage, especially when they consider that he is not even an Owsla rabbit. He is typical of the social characters who lead revolts and revolutions rather than merely accepting orders and allowing the ruling powers to control and regulate their lives.
CHAPTER 40 - The Way Back
The rabbits have to cross the bridge and head north, going back home the way they have come. Kehaar takes his leave of them, as there is nothing more he can do to help them, and he needs to get off with other gulls. Bigwig, whose shoulder was injured in fighting Blackavarís guards, finds it rough going, and Hazel soon discovers the Blackavar was well worth bringing along.
After traveling awhile, they reach an area called "Caesarís Belt. The rabbits all want to dig some holes and stay there to recuperate for a couple of days. Fiver feels that it isnít quite right, but doesnít know exactly why. Then Blackavar chimes in and urges them to keep on because they are in the heart of fox country where even a Wide Patrol wouldnít dally. Bigwig is lame and grumpy and is beginning to feel that Blackaver is a bit of a showoff with his Efrafan scout craft. He gets sarcastic with Blackaver, ridiculing his "feelings" just as he had Fiverís several weeks ago. There is also the mention of the smell of rabbits on the wind. Nevertheless, Hazel can see that the rabbits are too exhausted to continue on as they are. They dig their holes and decide to just take their chances long enough to get some rest.
They stay in this area for two days. In the late morning of the second day, a fox appears out of nowhere and snatches up one of the does who is feeding on a nearby bank. They gather the rabbits together, and Bigwig tries to apologize to Blackavar who says he doesnít remember giving Bigwig any such advice. Hyzenthlay later explains that in Efrafa, if a rabbit gave advice and that advice was rejected, he and everyone else immediately forgot it. They decide to press on toward the Honeycomb in hopes of making it that night. Later in the afternoon, they are stopped by four big rabbits who jump out of the bushes and block their path. One of them is Captain Campion who had taken it upon himself to carry out an ambush; Campion had been sent on a Wide Patrol and was hoping to have something worthwhile to show upon his return to the council. Campion claims to have a very large patrol hidden in the bushes, but Hazel calls his bluff, and he has to back off and let them pass. They make excellent progress and soon reach the slopes of Watership Down where Strawberry and Buckthorn have been watching for him.
There is some ominous foreshadowing that the Honeycomb rabbits will not have seen the last of Woundwort or his Efrafan Owsla. Although it seems like the two warrens are in different countries, they are actually only about three miles apart. Hyzenthlay indicates that she is as independent as Blackavar in thinking for herself, and unlike him, she does not necessarily "forget" when things do not go her way. She credits it to being a "doe."