THE LATE SUMMER the news of what had happened on Animal Farm had
spread across half the county. Every day Snowball and Napoleon
sent out flights of pigeons whose instructions were to mingle
with the animals on neighbouring farms, tell them the story of
the Rebellion, and teach them the tune of 'Beasts of England'.
Most of this time Mr. Jones had spent sitting in the taproom of
the Red Lion at Willingdon, complaining to anyone who would listen
of the monstrous injustice he had suffered in being turned out
of his property by a pack of good-for-nothing animals. The other
farmers sympathised in principle, but they did not at first give
him much help. At heart, each of them was secretly wondering whether
he could not somehow turn Jones's misfortune to his own advantage.
It was lucky that the owners of the two farms which adjoined Animal
Farm were on permanently bad terms. One of them, which was named
Foxwood, was a large, neglected, old-fashioned farm, much overgrown
by woodland, with all its pastures worn out and its hedges in
a disgraceful condition. Its owner, Mr. Pilkington, was an easy-going
gentleman farmer who spent most of his time in fishing or hunting
according to the season. The other farm, which was called Pinchfield,
was smaller and better kept. Its owner was a Mr. Frederick, a
tough, shrewd man, perpetually involved in lawsuits and with a
name for driving hard bargains. These two disliked each other
so much that it was difficult for them to come to any agreement,
even in defence of their own interests.
Nevertheless, they were both thoroughly frightened by the rebellion
on Animal Farm, and very anxious to prevent their own animals
from learning too much about it. At first they pretended to laugh
to scorn the idea of animals managing a farm for themselves. The
whole thing would be over in a fortnight, they said. They put
it about that the animals on the Manor Farm (they insisted on
calling it the Manor Farm; they would not tolerate the name 'Animal
Farm') were perpetually fighting among themselves and w ere also
rapidly starving to death. When time passed and the animals had
evidently not starved to death, Frederick and Pilkington changed
their tune and began to talk of the terrible wickedness that now
flourished on Animal Farm. It was given out that the animals there
practised cannibalism, tortured one another with red-hot horseshoes,
and had their females in common. This was what came of rebelling
against the laws of Nature, Frederick and Pilkington said.
However, these stories were never fully believed. Rumours of a
wonderful farm, where the human beings had been turned out and
the animals managed their own affairs, continued to circulate
in vague and distorted forms, and throughout that year a wave
of rebelliousness ran through the countryside. Bulls which had
always been tractable suddenly turned savage, sheep broke down
hedges and devoured the clover, cows kicked the pail over, hunters
refused their fences and shot their riders on to the other side.
Above all, the tune and even the words of Beasts of England were
known everywhere. It had spread with astonishing speed. The human
beings could not contain their rage when they heard this song,
though they pretended to think it merely ridiculous. They could
not understand, they said, how even animals could bring themselves
to sing such contemptible rubbish. Any animal caught singing it
was given a flogging on the spot. And yet the song was irrepressible.
The blackbirds whistled it in the hedges, the pigeons cooed it
in the elms, it got into the din of the smithies and the tune
of the church bells. And when the human beings listened to it,
they secretly trembled, hearing in it a prophecy of their future
Early in October, when the corn was cut and stacked and some of
it was already threshed, a flight of pigeons came whirling through
the air and alighted in the yard of Animal Farm in the wildest
excitement. Jones and all his men, with half a dozen others from
Foxwood and Pinchfield, had entered the five-barred gate and were
coming up the cart-track that led to the farm. They were all carrying
sticks, except Jones, who was marching ahead with a gun in his
hands. Obviously they were going to attempt the re capture of
This had long been expected, and all preparations had been made.
Snowball, who had studied an old book of Julius Caesar's campaigns
which he had found in the farmhouse, was in charge of the defensive
operations. He gave his orders quickly, and in a couple of minutes
every animal was at his post.
As the human beings approached the farm buildings, Snowball launched
his first attack. All the pigeons, to the number of thirty-five,
flew to and fro over the men's heads and muted upon them from
mid-air; and while the men were dealing with this, the geese,
who had been hiding behind the hedge, rushed out and pecked viciously
at the calves of their legs. However, this was only a light skirmishing
manoeuvre, intended to create a little disorder, and the men easily
drove the geese off with their sticks. Snowball now launched his
second line of attack. Muriel, Benjamin, and all the sheep, with
Snowball at the head of them, rushed forward and prodded and butted
the men from every side, while Benjamin turned around and lashed
at them with his small hoofs. But once again the men, with their
sticks and their hobnailed boots, were too strong for them; and
suddenly, at a squeal from Snowball, which was the signal for
retreat, all the animals turned and fled through the gateway into
The men gave a shout of triumph. They saw, as they imagined, their
enemies in flight, and they rushed after them in disorder. This
was just what Snowball had intended. As soon as they were well
inside the yard, the three horses, the three cows, and the rest
of the pigs, who had been lying in ambush in the cowshed, suddenly
emerged in their rear, cutting them off. Snowball now gave the
signal for the charge. He himself dashed straight for Jones. Jones
saw him coming, raised his gun and fired. The pellets scored bloody
streaks along Snowball's back, and a sheep dropped dead. Without
halting for an instant, Snowball flung his fifteen stone against
Jones's legs. Jones was hurled into a pile of dung and his gun
flew out of his hands. But the most terrifying spectacle of all
was Boxer, rearing up on his hind legs and striking out with his
great iron-shod hoofs like a stallion. His very first blow took
a stable-lad from Foxwood on the skull and stretched him lifeless
in the mud. At the sight, several men dropped their sticks and
tried to run. Panic overtook them, and the next moment all the
animals together were chasing them round and round the yard. They
were gored, kicked, bitten, trampled on. There was not an animal
on the farm that did not take vengeance on them after his own
fashion. Even the cat suddenly leapt off a roof onto a cowman's
shoulders and sank her claws in his neck, at which he yelled horribly.
At a moment when the opening was clear, the men were glad enough
to rush out of the yard and make a bolt for the main road. And
so within five minutes of their invasion they were in ignominious
retreat by the same way as they had come, with a flock of geese
hissing after them and pecking at their calves all the way.
All the men were gone except one. Back in the yard Boxer was pawing
with his hoof at the stable-lad who lay face down in the mud,
trying to turn him over. The boy did not stir.
'He is dead,' said Boxer sorrowfully. 'I had no intention of doing
that. I forgot that I was wearing iron shoes. Who will believe
that I did not do this on purpose?'
'No sentimentality, comrade!' cried Snowball from whose wounds
the blood was still dripping. 'War is war. The only good human
being is a dead one.'
'I have no wish to take life, not even human life,' repeated Boxer,
and his eyes were full of tears.
'Where is Mollie?' exclaimed somebody.
Mollie in fact was missing. For a moment there was great alarm;
it was feared that the men might have harmed her in some way,
or even carried her off with them. In the end, however, she was
found hiding in her stall with her head buried among the hay in
the manger. She had taken to flight as soon as the gun went off.
And when the others came back from looking for her, it was to
find that the stable-lad, who in fact was only stunned, had already
recovered and made off.
The animals had now reassembled in the wildest excitement, each
recounting his own exploits in the battle at the top of his voice.
An impromptu celebration of the victory was held immediately.
The flag was run up and 'Beasts of England' was sung a number
of times, then the sheep who had been killed was given a solemn
funeral, a hawthorn bush being planted on her grave. At the graveside
Snowball made a little speech, emphasising the need for all animals
to be ready to die for Animal Farm if need be.
The animals decided unanimously to create a military decoration,
'Animal Hero, First Class,' which was conferred there and then
on Snowball and Boxer. It consisted of a brass medal (they were
really some old horse-brasses which had been found in the harness-room),
to be worn on Sundays and holidays. There was also 'Animal Hero,
Second Class,' which was conferred posthumously on the dead sheep.
There was much discussion as to what the battle should be called.
In the end, it was named the Battle of the Cowshed, since that
was where the ambush had been sprung. Mr. Jones's gun had been
found lying in the mud, and it was known that there was a supply
of cartridges in the farmhouse. It was decided to set the gun
up at the foot of the Flagstaff, like a piece of artillery, and
to fire it twice a year - once on October the twelfth, the anniversary
of the Battle of the Cowshed, and once on Midsummer Day, the anniversary
of the Rebellion.
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