Chapter 20 Summary
Two days after the storm, Buck and Mill-wheel come to check on the Baxters. The storm has disrupted all the habits and patterns of the wild animals, so the two Forresters and the two Baxter men go to explore. They see dead animals of all kinds, and the water is still high in most places.
The men check on the doctor; he left a note on the door, saying he was heading to the ocean “where this much water is ain’t so peculiar.” The men enjoy a moment of laughter. They discover islands of land amid the swampy ground, islands which are full of all sorts of animals. The men shoot six wild cats because these are the predators of their farm animals. Jody shoots a lynx, and they also shoot several deer for meat.
After they settle for the night, they are threatened by a fierce but starving panther and her two cubs. Buck kills them and the dogs eat the meat, but the dead cubs make Jody sad. In the middle of the night, Baxter and Jody chase an alligator back to the water.
The horses do not have much to graze on, for the grasses are all beaten flat; the water nearly everywhere around them is putrid, so they do not have much to drink. When Jody asks whether the animals will be able to survive on the rotten water, none of the men are certain because these conditions are unprecedented in their experience. Soon they discover a newly created marsh full of bears fishing for mullet from the ocean which are leaping everywhere.
Buck, Mill-wheel, and Jody each shoot a bear. They all head back home, and Jody is proud to be the provider of meat for his family.