Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 539
Chapter 15 returns to Mack, the boys, the landowner, and his dog. The boys have left their campsite and gone up the hill to the farmhouse, where Mack is in the kitchen preparing the Epsom salt poultice for the injured dog's shoulder. As he works, the dog's numerous puppies fight...
(The entire section contains 539 words.)
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Chapter 15 returns to Mack, the boys, the landowner, and his dog. The boys have left their campsite and gone up the hill to the farmhouse, where Mack is in the kitchen preparing the Epsom salt poultice for the injured dog's shoulder. As he works, the dog's numerous puppies fight for dominance at her teats for milk. The poor dog wearily looks to Mack, her eyes conveying her weariness and seeming to seek his empathy.
The owner watches Mack, grateful to learn how to treat a tick bite. Mack tells him that in addition to healing her shoulder, the owner also needs to get her puppies weaned; they are too old to still be nursing, and the effort to continue providing milk to them is dangerously wearing the mother down.
The captain (as the owner is also called) confesses that he knows that they ought to have been weaned and, furthermore, he should not have allowed so many puppies to live. Mack is horrified and asks whether the captain really would have drowned them. The captain skirts the questions and instead tells Mack of his wife's involvement in politics. Since she has been elected to the Assembly, she is rarely home. The captain is frustrated and lonely.
Mack changes the subject too. He mentions that he could make a "real bird dog" out of one of the puppies in three years. The captain is delighted to offer him one, the pick of the litter. He is happy to see someone appreciate a good, working dog.
So pleased is the captain with Mack that he soon feels them not to be an intrusion at all; rather, they are welcome companions to his isolated life. Mack offers to allow the captain to join the collecting run and the man enthusiastically accepts. The landowner offers Mack and the boys a drink before they go out on their now-approved collecting run. Soon, having a "short one" turns into having many. It is a couple of hours later before all remember their task for the evening.
Quietly, the hunting party heads out to the pools. Humans have been hunting frogs for millennia. Frogs have become used to the game of hide-and-seek. But this time, Mack's band of brothers has a surprise. Instead of a single net and a set of feet, there are many nets and a dozen feet; there is terrible shouting and inescapable illumination from half a dozen flashlights. The frogs are startled and then terrified. Thousands run for their lives, abandoning the old rules without understanding the new. Thousands run; hundreds are caught.
The trip is a bigger success than any of the boys could have imagined. Huge dripping sacks full of frogs are loaded into the truck, and then all return to the farmhouse to celebrate their glorious battle with even more whiskey. The captain has had the time of his life but then passes out. Mack wants to know whether the rest of the boys also heard the captain offer him a jug of whiskey; they had. He also asks for their reassurance that the man had offered him a pup; he had. So whiskey, pup, and frogs in tow, Mack and the boys head back to Cannery Row, victorious.