Chapter 31 Summary
The boys return from their first solo hunting trip with many stories to tell. They herded several antelope onto their territory either to use as meat or raise for the future.
Fritz says it was exhilarating to take their animals onto the open prairie and give them room to fully gallop at top speed. It was at the top of a hill that they saw the antelope. At first, they thought they would run down and shoot as many as possible but decided it would be even better to steer them home. So they rode down, formed a semicircle behind the pack and with the help of their dogs, guided the animals along the stream to home.
The boys also brought back some angora rabbits. The father is concerned since rabbits multiply so quickly. They could become a nuisance, gorging in the gardens; the family would have trouble getting rid of them. Fritz says that if the rabbits are on Whale Island, they would not make trouble, but the boys could still hunt them whenever they wanted to.
Jack tells his parents of a cuckoo who led them to a bees' nest filled with honey. Jack attempted to smoke the bees, as his father had taught, but it did not work. Instead of sedating the bees, the smoke appeared to make them angry. They flew out as if in one body and stung Jack all over.
The next day, the father has one more excursion to make with his sons, so they each choose an animal to ride and search for the ostriches. They ride across Green Valley and past Turtle Marsh. In the distance, they spy the ostriches. Jack and Franz, who had ridden ahead, drive the ostriches back toward their father. This time the flock consists of a new male and possibly the same three females.
Before releasing his falcon, Fritz binds the bird's beak so it cannot kill. The bird swoops down on the lead ostrich's head, confusing the ostrich so it is incapable of moving. Jack throws his lasso around the ostrich's middle. When the father reaches them, he wraps a piece of cloth around the ostrich's head, subduing him.
Elizabeth is not happy to see the ostrich, thinking how much he will eat. Jack, however, believes he can train the ostrich to take a rider, making him the fastest of all the animals they ride.