Deprived of their leader, the rabbits are uncertain of themselves and do not know what to do. Holly tells the story of what happened on their journey to the warren that Kehaar told them about. They bumped into a rabbit who told them not to go to Efrara (the warren), but just then three big rabbits approached them and escorted them in.
The Owsla in Efrafa are in complete control, along with a Council of advisors, and a rabbit named General Woundwort is the leader. Each of the rabbits is marked and then put in a group with a similar mark, and they only go above ground with their group. The warren is designed to avoid detection because the rabbits fear humans. The Owsla run a "Wide Patrol"—they move far away from the warren looking for enemies or wandering rabbits.
A rabbit called Captain Campion took Holly and the others into a burrow, where they learned about the warren by talking to the rabbits, especially a doe named Hyzenthlay, who told them that the warren was overcrowded. They were brought before the Council, and Holly tried to explain that they just wanted a few does for their own warren. However, General Woundwort explained to them that they were to stay in Efrafa—they quickly realized that they were prisoners, not guests.
Holly came up with a plan to escape, and they ran away while their guard was eating outside. They were soon pursued, however, and they knew they would be overtaken. They were saved only by climbing over one side of a railroad track, although Holly did not know what the track was. The train came through and cut them off from the Efrafan Owsla. Holly describes the train as a giant hrududu sent by Lord Frith himself to save them. They managed to make their way back to the warren, only to learn that Hazel was killed in the raid on the barn.
Blackberry comes and tells them that Hazel is alive and that he is with Fiver at the bottom of the hill. Bigwig runs down to help and finds Hazel sleeping. The next morning, Kehaar comes down and pulls the shotgun pellets out of Hazel's leg. Hazel spends three days resting and tells Holly and the rest what they need to do. They need to return to Efrafa and bring back some does, and Hazel wants Blackberry to figure out how to do it.
Hazel returns the next morning and tells the rabbits that he plans to go to Efrafa and get some does. Holly speaks out against the plan, saying it is suicide. But then Fiver says that he will go and claims that he thinks it will work. Bigwig also says that he is going and that Kehaar is coming with them. Silver and Pipkin volunteer, and then Blackberry comes in and says that the plan is better than he originally thought. Kehaar tells Hazel he will help them to find the does, but that he must leave afterwards. He promises to return another time in the future.