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By 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 were 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 doom.

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 recapture of the farm.

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 yard.

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.

到了那里夏末,有关动物庄园里种种事件的消息,已经传遍了半个国家。每一天,斯诺鲍和拿破仑都要放出一群鸽子。鸽子的任务是混入附近庄园的动物中,告诉他们起义的史实,教他们唱“英格兰兽”。

这个时期,琼斯先生把大部分时间都在泡在威灵顿雷德兰的酒吧间了。他心怀着被区区畜牲撵出家园的痛苦,每逢有人愿意听,他就诉说一通他的冤屈。别的庄园主基本上同情他,但起初没有给他太多帮助。他们都在心里暗暗寻思,看是否能多少从琼斯的不幸中给自己捞到什么好处。幸而,与动物庄园毗邻的两个庄园关系一直很差。一个叫作福克斯伍德庄园,面积不小,却照管得很差。广阔的田地里尽是荒芜的牧场和丢人现眼的树篱。庄园主皮尔金顿先生是一位随和的乡绅,随着季节不同,他不是钓鱼消闲,就是去打猎度日。另一个叫作平彻菲尔德庄园,小一点,但照料得不错。它的主人是弗雷德里克先生,一个精明的硬汉子,却总是牵扯在官司中,落了个好斤斤计较的名声。这两个人向来不和,谁也不买谁的帐,即使事关他们的共同利益,他们也是如此。

话虽如此,可是这一次,他们俩都被动物庄园的造反行动彻底吓坏了,急不可待地要对他们自己庄园里的动物封锁这方面的消息。开始的时候,他们对动物们自己管理庄园的想法故作嘲笑与蔑视。他们说,整个事态两周内就会结束。他们散布说,曼纳庄园(他们坚持称之为曼纳庄园,而不能容忍动物庄园这个名字)的畜牲总是在他们自己之间打斗,而且快要饿死了。过一段时间,那里的动物显然并没有饿死,弗雷德里克和皮尔金顿就改了腔调,开始说什么动物庄园如今邪恶猖獗。他们说,传说那里的动物同类相食,互相用烧得通红的马蹄铁拷打折磨,还共同霸占他们中的雌性动物。弗雷德里克和皮尔金顿说,正是在这一点上,造反是悖于天理的。

然而,谁也没有完全听信这些说法。有这样一座奇妙的庄园,在那儿人被撵走,动物们掌管自己的事务,这个小道消息继续以各种形式流传着。整个那一年,在全国范围内造反之波此起彼伏:一向温顺的公牛突然变野了,羊毁坏了树篱,糟踏了苜蓿,母牛蹄翻了奶桶,猎马不肯越过围栏而把背上的骑手甩到了另一边。更有甚者,“英格兰兽”的曲子甚至还有歌词已经无处不知,它以惊异的速度流传着。尽管人们故意装作不屑一顾,认为它滑稽可笑,但是,当他们听到了这支歌,便怒不可遏。他们说,他们简直弄不明白,怎么就连畜牲们也竟能唱这样无耻的下流小调。那些因为唱这支歌而被逮住的动物,当场就会被责以鞭笞。可这支歌还是压抑不住的,乌鸦在树篱上啭鸣着唱它,鸽子在榆树上咕咕着唱它,歌声渗进铁匠铺的喧声,渗进教堂的钟声,它预示着人所面临的厄运,因而,他们听到这些便暗自发抖。

十月初,玉米收割完毕并且堆放好了,其中有些已经脱了粒。有一天,一群鸽子从空中急速飞回,兴高采烈地落在动物庄园的院子里。原来琼斯和他的所有伙计们,以及另外六个来自福克斯伍德庄园和平彻菲尔德庄园的人,已经进了五栅门,正沿着庄园的车道向这走来。除了一马当先的琼斯先生手里握着一支枪外,他们全都带着棍棒。显然,他们企图夺回这座庄园。

这是早就预料到了的,所有相应的准备工作也已经就绪。斯诺鲍负责这次防御战。他曾在庄主院的屋子里找到一本谈论儒略·凯撒征战的旧书,并且钻研过。此时,他迅速下令,不出两分钟,动物们已经各就各位。

当这伙人接近庄园的窝棚时,斯诺鲍发动第一次攻击,所有的鸽子,大概有三十五只左右,在这伙人头上盘旋,从半空中向他们一齐拉屎。趁着他们应付鸽子的“空袭”,早已藏在树篱后的一群鹅冲了出来,使劲地啄他们的腿肚子。而这还只是些小打小闹的计策,只不过制造点小混乱罢了。这帮人用棍棒毫不费力就把鹅赶跑了。斯诺鲍接着发动第二次攻击,穆丽尔、本杰明和所有的羊,随着打头的斯诺鲍冲向前去,从各个方向对这伙人又戳又抵,而本杰明则回头用他的小蹄子对他们尥起蹶子来。可是,对动物们来说,这帮拎着棍棒、靴子上又带着钉子的人还是太厉害了。突然,从斯诺鲍那里发出一声尖叫,这是退兵的信号,所有的动物转身从门口退回院子内。

那些人发出得意的呼叫,正象他们所想象的那样,他们看到仇敌们溃不成军,于是就毫无秩序的追击着。这正是斯诺鲍所期望的。等他们完全进入院子后,三匹马,三头牛以及其余埋伏在牛棚里的猪,突然出现在他们身后,切断了他们的退路。这时,斯诺鲍发出了进攻的信号,他自己径直向琼斯冲出,琼斯看见他冲过来,举起枪就开了火,弹粒擦过斯诺鲍背部,刻下了一道血痕,一只羊中弹伤亡。当时迟,那时快,斯诺鲍凭他那两百多磅体重猛地扑向琼斯的腿,琼斯一下子被推到粪堆上,枪也从手中甩了出去。而最为惊心动魄的情景还在鲍克瑟那儿,他就像一匹没有阉割的种马,竟靠后腿直立起来,用他那巨大的钉着铁掌的蹄子猛打一气,第一下就击中了一个福克斯伍德庄园的马夫的脑壳,打得他倒在泥坑里断了气。看到这个情形,几个人扔掉棍子就要跑。他们被惊恐笼罩着,接着,就在所有动物的追逐下绕着院子到处乱跑。他们不是被抵,就是被踢;不是被咬,就是被踩。庄园里的动物无不以各自不同的方式向他们复仇。就连那只猫也突然从房顶跳到一个放牛人的肩上,用爪子掐进他的脖子里,疼得他大喊大叫。趁着门口没有挡道的机会,这伙人喜出望外,夺路冲出院子,迅速逃到大路上。一路上又有鹅在啄着他们的腿肚子,嘘嘘的轰赶他们。就这样,他们这次侵袭,在五分钟之内,又从进来的路上灰溜溜地败逃了。

除了一个人之外,这帮人全都跑了。回到院子里,鲍克瑟用蹄子扒拉一下那个脸朝下趴在地上的马夫,试图把它翻过来,这家伙一动也不动。

“他死了”,鲍克瑟难过地说,“我本不想这样干,我忘了我还钉着铁掌呢,谁相信我这是无意的呢?”

“不要多愁善感,同志!”伤口还在滴滴答答流血的斯诺鲍大声说到。“打仗就是打仗,只有死人才是好人。”

“我不想杀生,即使对人也不”,鲍克瑟重复道,两眼还含着泪花。

不知是谁大声喊道:“莫丽哪儿去了?”

莫丽确实失踪了。大家感到一阵惊慌,他们担心人设了什么计伤害了她,更担心人把她抢走了。结果,却发现她正躲在她的厩棚里,头还钻在料槽的草中。她在枪响的时候就逃跑了。后来又发现,那个马夫只不过昏了过去,就在他们寻找莫丽时,马夫苏醒过来,趁机溜掉了。

这时,动物们又重新集合起来,他们沉浸在无比的喜悦之中,每一位都扯着嗓子把自己在战斗中的功劳表白一番。当下,他们立即举行了一个即兴的庆功仪式。庄园的旗帜升上去了,“英格兰兽”唱了许多遍。接着又为那只被杀害的羊举行了隆重的葬礼,还为她在墓地上种了一棵山楂树。斯诺鲍在墓前作了一个简短的演说,他强调说,如果需要的话,每个动物都当为动物庄园准备牺牲。

动物们一致决定设立一个“一级动物英雄”军功勋章,这一称号就地立即授予斯诺鲍和鲍克瑟。并有一枚铜质奖章(那是在农具室里发现的一些旧的、货真价实的黄铜制做的),可在星期天和节日里佩戴。还有一枚“二级动物英雄”勋章,这一称号追认给那只死去的羊。

关于对这次战斗如何称谓的事,他们讨论来,讨论去,最后决定命名为“牛棚大战”,因为伏击就是在那儿发起的。他们还把琼斯先生那支掉在泥坑里的枪找到了,又在庄主院里发现了存贮的子弹。于是决定把枪架在旗杆脚下,像一门大炮一样,并在每年鸣枪两次,一次在十月十二日的“牛棚大战”纪念日,一次在施洗约翰节,也就是起义纪念日。