Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but
Was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes. With the ring of light
From his lantern dancing from side to side, he lurched across the yard,
Kicked off his boots at the back door, drew himself a last glass of beer
From the barrel in the scullery, and made his way up to bed, where
Mrs. Jones was already snoring.
As soon as the light in the bedroom went out there was a stirring and a
Fluttering all through the farm buildings. Word had gone round during the
Day that old Major, the prize Middle White boar, had had a strange dream
On the previous night and wished to communicate it to the other animals.
It had been agreed that they should all meet in the big barn as soon as
Mr. Jones was safely out of the way. Old Major (so he was always called,
Though the name under which he had been exhibited was Willingdon Beauty)
Was so highly regarded on the farm that everyone was quite ready to lose
An hour’s sleep in order to hear what he had to say.
At one end of the big barn, on a sort of raised platform, Major was
Already ensconced on his bed of straw, under a lantern which hung from a
Beam. He was twelve years old and had lately grown rather stout, but he
Was still a majestic-looking pig, with a wise and benevolent appearance in
Spite of the fact that his tushes had never been cut. Before long the
Other animals began to arrive and make themselves comfortable after their
Different fashions. First came the three dogs, Bluebell, Jessie, and
Pincher, and then the pigs, who settled down in the straw immediately in
Front of the platform. The hens perched themselves on the window-sills,
The pigeons fluttered up to the rafters, the sheep and cows lay down
Behind the pigs and began to chew the cud. The two cart-horses, Boxer and
Clover, came in together, walking very slowly and setting down their vast
Hairy hoofs with great care lest there should be some small animal
Concealed in the straw. Clover was a stout motherly mare approaching
Middle life, who had never quite got her figure back after her fourth foal.
Boxer was an enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as
Any two ordinary horses put together. A white stripe down his nose gave
Him a somewhat stupid appearance, and in fact he was not of first-rate
Intelligence, but he was universally respected for his steadiness of
Character and tremendous powers of work. After the horses came Muriel,
The white goat, and Benjamin, the donkey. Benjamin was the oldest animal
On the farm, and the worst tempered. He seldom talked, and when he did, it
Was usually to make some cynical remark – for instance, he would say that
God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, but that he would sooner
Have had no tail and no flies. Alone among the animals on the farm he
Never laughed. If asked why, he would say that he saw nothing to laugh at.
Nevertheless, without openly admitting it, he was devoted to Boxer; the
Two of them usually spent their Sundays together in the small paddock
Beyond the orchard, grazing side by side and never speaking.
The two horses had just lain down when a brood of ducklings, which had
Lost their mother, filed into the barn, cheeping feebly and wandering from
Side to side to find some place where they would not be trodden on. Clover
Made a sort of wall round them with her great foreleg, and the ducklings
Nestled down inside it and promptly fell asleep. At the last moment