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Boxer's split hoof was a long time in healing. They had started the rebuilding of the windmill the day after the victory celebrations were ended. Boxer refused to take even a day off work, and made it a point of honour not to let it be seen that he was in pain. In the evenings he would admit privately to Clover that the hoof troubled him a great deal. Clover treated the hoof with poultices of herbs which she prepared by chewing them, and both she and Benjamin urged Boxer to work less hard. "A horse's lungs do not last for ever," she said to him. But Boxer would not listen. He had, he said, only one real ambition left--to see the windmill well under way before he reached the age for retirement.

At the beginning, when the laws of Animal Farm were first formulated, the retiring age had been fixed for horses and pigs at twelve, for cows at fourteen, for dogs at nine, for sheep at seven, and for hens and geese at five. Liberal old-age pensions had been agreed upon. As yet no animal had actually retired on pension, but of late the subject had been discussed more and more. Now that the small field beyond the orchard had been set aside for barley, it was rumoured that a corner of the large pasture was to be fenced off and turned into a grazing-ground for superannuated animals. For a horse, it was said, the pension would be five pounds of corn a day and, in winter, fifteen pounds of hay, with a carrot or possibly an apple on public holidays. Boxer's twelfth birthday was due in the late summer of the following year.

Meanwhile life was hard. The winter was as cold as the last one had been, and food was even shorter. Once again all rations were reduced, except those of the pigs and the dogs. A too rigid equality in rations, Squealer explained, would have been contrary to the principles of Animalism. In any case he had no difficulty in proving to the other animals that they were NOT in reality short of food, whatever the appearances might be. For the time being, certainly, it had been found necessary to make a readjustment of rations (Squealer always spoke of it as a "readjustment," never as a "reduction"), but in comparison with the days of Jones, the improvement was enormous. Reading out the figures in a shrill, rapid voice, he proved to them in detail that they had more oats, more hay, more turnips than they had had in Jones's day, that they worked shorter hours, that their drinking water was of better quality, that they lived longer, that a larger proportion of their young ones survived infancy, and that they had more straw in their stalls and suffered less from fleas. The animals believed every word of it. Truth to tell, Jones and all he stood for had almost faded out of their memories. They knew that life nowadays was harsh and bare, that they were often hungry and often cold, and that they were usually working when they were not asleep. But doubtless it had been worse in the old days. They were glad to believe so. Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out.

There were many more mouths to feed now. In the autumn the four sows had all littered about simultaneously, producing thirty-one young pigs between them. The young pigs were piebald, and as Napoleon was the only boar on the farm, it was possible to guess at their parentage. It was announced that later, when bricks and timber had been purchased, a schoolroom would be built in the farmhouse garden. For the time being, the young pigs were given their instruction by Napoleon himself in the farmhouse kitchen. They took their exercise in the garden, and were discouraged from playing with the other young animals. About this time, too, it was laid down as a rule that when a pig and any other animal met on the path, the other animal must stand aside: and also that all pigs, of whatever degree, were to have the privilege of wearing green ribbons on their tails on Sundays.

The farm had had a fairly successful year, but was still short of money. There were the bricks, sand, and lime for the schoolroom to be purchased, and it would also be necessary to begin saving up again for the machinery for the windmill. Then there were lamp oil and candles for the house, sugar for Napoleon's own table (he forbade this to the other pigs, on the ground that it made them fat), and all the usual replacements such as tools, nails, string, coal, wire, scrap-iron, and dog biscuits. A stump of hay and part of the potato crop were sold off, and the contract for eggs was increased to six hundred a week, so that that year the hens barely hatched enough chicks to keep their numbers at the same level. Rations, reduced in December, were reduced again in February, and lanterns in the stalls were forbidden to save oil. But the pigs seemed comfortable enough, and in fact were putting on weight if anything. One afternoon in late February a warm, rich, appetising scent, such as the animals had never smelt before, wafted itself across the yard from the little brew-house, which had been disused in Jones's time, and which stood beyond the kitchen. Someone said it was the smell of cooking barley. The animals sniffed the air hungrily and wondered whether a warm mash was being prepared for their supper. But no warm mash appeared, and on the following Sunday it was announced that from now onwards all barley would be reserved for the pigs. The field beyond the orchard had already been sown with barley. And the news soon leaked out that every pig was now receiving a ration of a pint of beer daily, with half a gallon for Napoleon himself, which was always served to him in the Crown Derby soup tureen.

But if there were hardships to be borne, they were partly offset by the fact that life nowadays had a greater dignity than it had had before. There were more songs, more speeches, more processions. Napoleon had commanded that once a week there should be held something called a Spontaneous Demonstration, the object of which was to celebrate the struggles and triumphs of Animal Farm. At the appointed time the animals would leave their work and march round the precincts of the farm in

military formation, with the pigs leading, then the horses, then the cows, then the sheep, and then the poultry. The dogs flanked the procession and at the head of all marched Napoleon's black cockerel. Boxer and Clover always carried between them a green banner marked with the hoof and the horn and the caption, "Long live Comrade Napoleon!" Afterwards there were recitations of poems composed in Napoleon's honour, and a speech by Squealer giving particulars of the latest increases in the production of foodstuffs, and on occasion a shot was fired from the gun. The sheep were the greatest devotees of the Spontaneous Demonstration, and if anyone complained (as a few animals sometimes did, when no pigs or dogs were near) that they wasted time and meant a lot of standing about in the cold, the sheep were sure to silence him with a tremendous bleating of "Four legs good, two legs bad!" But by and large the animals enjoyed these celebrations. They found it comforting to be reminded that, after all, they were truly their own masters and that the work they did was for their own benefit. So that, what with the songs, the processions, Squealer's lists of figures, the thunder of the gun, the crowing of the cockerel, and the fluttering of the flag, they were able to forget that their bellies were empty, at least part of the time.

In April, Animal Farm was proclaimed a Republic, and it became necessary to elect a President. There was only one candidate, Napoleon, who was elected unanimously. On the same day it was given out that fresh documents had been discovered which revealed further details about Snowball's complicity with Jones. It now appeared that Snowball had not, as the animals had previously imagined, merely attempted to lose the Battle of the Cowshed by means of a stratagem, but had been openly fighting on Jones's side. In fact, it was he who had actually been the leader of the human forces, and had charged into battle with the words "Long live Humanity!" on his lips. The wounds on Snowball's back, which a few of the animals still remembered to have seen, had been inflicted by Napoleon's teeth.

In the middle of the summer Moses the raven suddenly reappeared on the farm, after an absence of several years. He was quite unchanged, still did no work, and talked in the same strain as ever about Sugarcandy Mountain. He would perch on a stump, flap his black wings, and talk by the hour to anyone who would listen. "Up there, comrades," he would say solemnly, pointing to the sky with his large beak--"up there, just on the other side of that dark cloud that you can see--there it lies, Sugarcandy Mountain, that happy country where we poor animals shall rest for ever from our labours!" He even claimed to have been there on one of his higher flights, and to have seen the everlasting fields of clover and the linseed cake and lump sugar growing on the hedges. Many of the animals believed him. Their lives now, they reasoned, were hungry and laborious; was it not right and just that a better world should exist somewhere else? A thing that was difficult to determine was the attitude of the pigs towards Moses. They all declared contemptuously that his stories about Sugarcandy Mountain were lies, and yet they allowed him to remain on the farm, not working, with an allowance of a gill of beer a day.

After his hoof had healed up, Boxer worked harder than ever. Indeed, all the animals worked like slaves that year. Apart from the regular work of the farm, and the rebuilding of the windmill, there was the schoolhouse for the young pigs, which was started in March. Sometimes the long hours on insufficient food were hard to bear, but Boxer never faltered. In nothing that he said or did was there any sign that his strength was not what it had been. It was only his appearance that was a little altered; his hide was less shiny than it had used to be, and his great haunches seemed to have shrunken. The others said, "Boxer will pick up when the spring grass comes on"; but the spring came and Boxer grew no fatter. Sometimes on the slope leading to the top of the quarry, when he braced his muscles against the weight of some vast boulder, it seemed that nothing kept him on his feet except the will to continue. At such times his lips were seen to form the words, "I will work harder"; he had no voice left. Once again Clover and Benjamin warned him to take care of his health, but Boxer paid no attention. His twelfth birthday was approaching. He did not care what happened so long as a good store of stone was accumulated before he went on pension. Late one evening in the summer, a sudden rumour ran round the farm that something had happened to Boxer. He had gone out alone to drag a load of stone down to the windmill. And sure enough, the rumour was true. A few minutes later two pigeons came racing in with the news; "Boxer has fallen! He is lying on his side and can't get up!"

About half the animals on the farm rushed out to the knoll where the windmill stood. There lay Boxer, between the shafts of the cart, his neck stretched out, unable even to raise his head. His eyes were glazed, his sides matted with sweat. A thin stream of blood had trickled out of his mouth. Clover dropped to her knees at his side.

"Boxer!" she cried, "how are you?"

"It is my lung," said Boxer in a weak voice. "It does not matter. I think you will be able to finish the windmill without me. There is a pretty good store of stone accumulated. I had only another month to go in any case. To tell you the truth, I had been looking forward to my retirement. And perhaps, as Benjamin is growing old too, they will let him retire at the same time and be a companion to me."

"We must get help at once," said Clover. "Run, somebody, and tell Squealer what has happened."

All the other animals immediately raced back to the farmhouse to give Squealer the news. Only Clover remained, and Benjamin who lay down at Boxer's side, and, without speaking, kept the flies off him with his long tail. After about a quarter of an hour Squealer appeared, full of sympathy and concern. He said that Comrade Napoleon had learned with the very deepest distress of this misfortune to one of the most loyal workers on the farm, and was already making arrangements to send Boxer to be treated in the hospital at Willingdon. The animals felt a little uneasy at this. Except for Mollie and Snowball, no other animal had ever left the farm, and they did not like to think of their sick comrade in the hands of human beings. However, Squealer easily convinced them that the veterinary surgeon in Willingdon could treat Boxer's case more satisfactorily than could be done on the farm. And about half an hour later, when Boxer had somewhat recovered, he was with difficulty got on to his feet, and managed to limp back to his stall, where Clover and Benjamin had prepared a good bed of straw for him.

For the next two days Boxer remained in his stall. The pigs had sent out a large bottle of pink medicine which they had found in the medicine chest in the bathroom, and Clover administered it to Boxer twice a day after meals. In the evenings she lay in his stall and talked to him, while Benjamin kept the flies off him. Boxer professed not to be sorry for what had happened. If he made a good recovery, he might expect to live another three years, and he looked forward to the peaceful days that he would spend in the corner of the big pasture. It would be the first time that he had had leisure to study and improve his mind. He intended, he said, to devote the rest of his life to learning the remaining twenty-two letters of the alphabet.

However, Benjamin and Clover could only be with Boxer after working hours, and it was in the middle of the day when the van came to take him away. The animals were all at work weeding turnips under the supervision of a pig, when they were astonished to see Benjamin come galloping from the direction of the farm buildings, braying at the top of his voice. It was the first time that they had ever seen Benjamin excited--indeed, it was the first time that anyone had ever seen him gallop. "Quick, quick!" he shouted. "Come at once! They're taking Boxer away!" Without waiting for orders from the pig, the animals broke off work and raced back to the farm buildings. Sure enough, there in the yard was a large closed van, drawn by two horses, with lettering on its side and a sly-looking man in a low-crowned bowler hat sitting on the driver's seat. And Boxer's stall was empty.

The animals crowded round the van. "Good-bye, Boxer!" they chorused, "good-bye!"

"Fools! Fools!" shouted Benjamin, prancing round them and stamping the earth with his small hoofs. "Fools! Do you not see what is written on the side of that van?"

That gave the animals pause, and there was a hush. Muriel began to spell out the words. But Benjamin pushed her aside and in the midst of a deadly silence he read:

"'Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler, Willingdon. Dealer in Hides and Bone-Meal. Kennels Supplied.' Do you not understand what that means? They are taking Boxer to the knacker's!"

A cry of horror burst from all the animals. At this moment the man on the box whipped up his horses and the van moved out of the yard at a smart trot. All the animals followed, crying out at the tops of their voices. Clover forced her way to the front. The van began to gather speed. Clover tried to stir her stout limbs to a gallop, and achieved a canter. "Boxer!" she cried. "Boxer! Boxer! Boxer!" And just at this moment, as though he had heard the uproar outside, Boxer's face, with the white stripe down his nose, appeared at the small window at the back of the van.

"Boxer!" cried Clover in a terrible voice. "Boxer! Get out! Get out quickly! They're taking you to your death!"

All the animals took up the cry of "Get out, Boxer, get out!" But the van was already gathering speed and drawing away from them. It was uncertain whether Boxer had understood what Clover had said. But a moment later his face disappeared from the window and there was the sound of a tremendous drumming of hoofs inside the van. He was trying to kick his way out. The time had been when a few kicks from Boxer's hoofs would have smashed the van to matchwood. But alas! his strength had left him; and in a few moments the sound of drumming hoofs grew fainter and died away. In desperation the animals began appealing to the two horses which drew the van to stop. "Comrades, comrades!" they shouted. "Don't take your own brother to his death! "But the stupid brutes, too ignorant to realise what was happening, merely set back their ears and quickened their pace. Boxer's face did not reappear at the window. Too late, someone thought of racing ahead and shutting the five-barred gate; but in another moment the van was through it and rapidly disappearing down the road. Boxer was never seen again.

Three days later it was announced that he had died in the hospital at Willingdon, in spite of receiving every attention a horse could have. Squealer came to announce the news to the others. He had, he said, been present during Boxer's last hours.

"It was the most affecting sight I have ever seen!" said Squealer, lifting his trotter and wiping away a tear. "I was at his bedside at the very last. And at the end, almost too weak to speak, he whispered in my ear that his sole sorrow was to have passed on before the windmill was finished. 'Forward, comrades!' he whispered. 'Forward in the name of the Rebellion. Long live Animal Farm! Long live Comrade Napoleon! Napoleon is always right.' Those were his very last words, comrades."

Here Squealer's demeanour suddenly changed. He fell silent for a moment, and his little eyes darted suspicious glances from side to side before he proceeded.

It had come to his knowledge, he said, that a foolish and wicked rumour had been circulated at the time of Boxer's removal. Some of the animals had noticed that the van which took Boxer away was marked "Horse Slaughterer," and had actually jumped to the conclusion that Boxer was being sent to the knacker's. It was almost unbelievable, said Squealer, that any animal could be so stupid. Surely, he cried indignantly, whisking his tail and skipping from side to side, surely they knew their beloved Leader, Comrade Napoleon, better than that? But the explanation was really very simple. The van had previously been the property of the knacker, and had been bought by the veterinary surgeon, who had not yet painted the old name out. That was how the mistake had arisen.

The animals were enormously relieved to hear this. And when Squealer went on to give further graphic details of Boxer's death-bed, the admirable care he had received, and the expensive medicines for which Napoleon had paid without a thought as to the cost, their last doubts disappeared and the sorrow that they felt for their comrade's death was tempered by the thought that at least he had died happy.

Napoleon himself appeared at the meeting on the following Sunday morning and pronounced a short oration in Boxer's honour. It had not been possible, he said, to bring back their lamented comrade's remains for interment on the farm, but he had ordered a large wreath to be made from the laurels in the farmhouse garden and sent down to be placed on Boxer's grave. And in a few days' time the pigs intended to hold a memorial banquet in Boxer's honour. Napoleon ended his speech with a reminder of Boxer's two favourite maxims, "I will work harder" and "Comrade Napoleon is always right"--maxims, he said, which every animal would do well to adopt as his own.

On the day appointed for the banquet, a grocer's van drove up from Willingdon and delivered a large wooden crate at the farmhouse. That night there was the sound of uproarious singing, which was followed by what sounded like a violent quarrel and ended at about eleven o'clock with a tremendous crash of glass. No one stirred in the farmhouse before noon on the following day, and the word went round that from somewhere or other the pigs had acquired the money to buy themselves another case of whisky.

鲍克瑟蹄掌上的裂口过了很长时间才痊愈。庆祝活动结束后第二天,动物们就开始第三次建造风车了。对此,鲍克瑟哪里肯闲着,他一天不干活都不行,于是就忍住伤痛不让他们有所察觉。到了晚上他悄悄告诉克拉弗,他的掌子疼得厉害。克拉弗就用嘴巴嚼着草药给他敷上。她和本杰明一起恳求鲍克瑟干活轻一点。她对他说:“马肺又不能永保不衰。”但鲍克瑟不听,他说,他剩下的唯一一个心愿就是在他到退休年龄之前,能看到风车建设顺利进行。

想当初,当动物庄园初次制定律法时,退休年龄分别规定为:马和猪十二岁,牛十四岁,狗九岁,羊七岁,鸡和鹅五岁,还允诺要发给充足的养老津贴。虽然至今还没有一个动物真正领过养老津贴,但近来这个话题讨论得越来越多了。眼下,因为苹果园那边的那块小牧场已被留作大麦田,就又有小道消息说大牧场的一角要围起来给退休动物留作牧场用。据说,每匹马的养老津贴是每天五磅谷子,到冬天是每天十五磅干草,公共节假日里还发给一根胡萝卜,或者尽量给一个苹果。鲍克瑟的十二岁生日就在来年的夏末。

这个时期的生活十分艰苦。冬天象去年一样冷,食物也更少了。除了那些猪和狗以外,所有动物的饲料粮再次减少。斯奎拉解释说,在定量上过于教条的平等是违背动物主义原则的。不论在什么情况下,他都毫不费力地向其他动物证明,无论表面现象是什么,他们事实上并不缺粮。当然,暂时有必要调整一下供应量(斯奎拉总说这是“调整”,从不认为是“减少”)。但与琼斯时代相比,进步是巨大的。为了向大家详细说明这一点,斯奎拉用他那尖细的嗓音一口气念了一大串数字。这些数字反映出,和琼斯时代相比,他们现在有了更多的燕麦、干草、萝卜,工作的时间更短,饮用的水质更好,寿命延长了,年轻一代的存活率提高了,窝棚里有了更多的草垫,而且跳蚤少多了。动物们对他所说的每句话无不信以为真。说实话,在他们的记忆中,琼斯及他所代表的一切几乎已经完全淡忘了。他们知道,近来的生活窘困而艰难,常常是饥寒交迫,醒着的时候就是干活,但毫无疑问,过去更糟糕。他们情愿相信这些。再说,那时他们是奴隶,现在却享有自由。诚如斯奎拉那句总是挂在嘴上的话所说,这一点使一切都有了天壤之别。

现在有更多的嘴要吃饭。这天,四头母猪差不多同时都下小崽,共有三十一头。他们生下来就带着黑白条斑。谁是他们的父亲呢?这并不难推测,因为拿破仑是庄园里唯一的种猪。有通告说,过些时候,等买好了砖头和木材,就在庄主院花园里为他们盖一间学堂。目前,暂时由拿破仑在庄主院的厨房里亲自给他们上课。这些小猪平常是在花园里活动,而且不许他们和其他年幼的动物一起玩耍。大约与此同时,又颁布了一项规定,规定说当其他的动物在路上遇到猪时,他们就必须要站到路边;另外,所有的猪,不论地位高低,均享有星期天在尾巴上戴饰带的特权。

庄园度过了相当顺利的一年,但是,他们的钱还是不够用。建学堂用的砖头、沙子、石灰和风车用的机器得花钱去买。庄主院需要的灯油和蜡烛,拿破仑食用的糖(他禁止其他猪吃糖,原因是吃糖会使他们发胖),也得花钱去买。再加上所有日用的勤杂品,诸如工具、钉子、绳子、煤、铁丝、铁块和狗食饼干等等,开销不小。为此,又得重新攒钱。剩余的干草和部分土豆收成已经卖掉,鸡蛋合同又增加到每周六百个。因此在这一年中,孵出的小鸡连起码的数目都不够,鸡群几乎没法维持在过去的数目水平上。十二月份已经减少的口粮,二月份又削减了一次,为了省油,窝棚里也禁止点灯。但是,猪好像倒很舒服,而且事实上,即使有上述情况存在,他们的体重仍有增加。二月末的一个下午,有一股动物们以前从没有闻到过的新鲜、浓郁、令他们馋涎欲滴的香味,从厨房那一边小酿造房里飘过院子来,那间小酿造房在琼斯时期就已弃置不用了。有动物说,这是蒸煮大麦的味道。他们贪婪地嗅着香气,心里都在暗自猜测:这是不是在为他们的晚餐准备热乎乎的大麦糊糊。但是,晚饭时并没有见到热乎乎的大麦糊糊。而且在随后的那个星期天,又宣布了一个通告,说是从今往后,所有的大麦要贮存给猪用。而在此之前,苹果园那边的田里就早已种上了大麦。不久,又传出这样一个消息,说是现在每头猪每天都要领用一品脱啤酒,拿破仑则独自领用半磅,通常都是盛在德贝郡出产的瓷制的带盖汤碗里。

但是,不管受了什么气,不管日子多么难熬,只要一想到他们现在活得比从前体面,他们也就觉得还可以说得过去。现在歌声多,演讲多,活动多。拿破仑已经指示,每周应当举行一次叫做“自发游行”的活动,目的在于庆祝动物庄园的奋斗成果和兴旺景象。每到既定时刻,动物们便纷纷放下工作,列队绕着庄园的边界游行,猪带头,然后是马、牛、羊,接着是家禽。狗在队伍两侧,拿破仑的黑公鸡走在队伍的最前头。鲍克瑟和克拉弗还总要扯着一面绿旗,旗上标着蹄掌和犄角,以及“拿破仑同志万岁!”的标语。游行之后,是背诵赞颂拿破仑的诗的活动,接着是演讲,由斯奎拉报告饲料增产的最新数据。而且不时还要鸣枪庆贺。羊对“自发游行”活动最为热心,如果哪个动物抱怨(个别动物有时趁猪和狗不在场就会发牢骚)说这是浪费时间,只不过意味着老是站在那里受冻,羊就肯定会起响亮地叫起“四条腿号,两条腿坏”,顿时就叫得他们哑口无言。但大体上说,动物们搞这些庆祝活动还是兴致勃勃的。归根到底,他们发现正是在这些活动中,他们才感到他们真正是当家做主了,所做的一切都是在为自己谋福利,想到这些,他们也就心满意足。因而,在歌声中,在游戏中,在斯奎拉列举的数字中,在鸣枪声中,在黑公鸡的啼叫声中,在绿旗的飘扬中,他们就可以至少在部分时间里忘却他们的肚子还是空荡荡的。

四月份,动物庄园宣告成为“动物共和国”,在所难免的是要选举一位总统,可候选人只有一个,就是拿破仑,他被一致推举就任总统。同一天,又公布了有关斯诺鲍和琼斯串通一气的新证据,其中涉及到很多详细情况。这样,现在看来,斯诺鲍不仅诡计多端地破坏“牛棚大战”,这一点动物们以前已有印象了,而且是公开地为琼斯作帮凶。事实上,正是他充当了那伙人的元凶,他在参加混战之前,还高喊过“人类万岁!”有些动物仍记得斯诺鲍背上带了伤,但那实际上是拿破仑亲自咬的。

仲夏时节,乌鸦摩西在失踪数年之后,突然又回到庄园。他几乎没有什么变化,照旧不干活,照旧口口声声地讲着“蜜糖山”的老一套。谁要是愿意听,他就拍打着黑翅膀飞到一根树桩上,滔滔不绝地讲起来:“在那里,同志们,”他一本正经地讲着,并用大嘴巴指着天空——“在那里,就在你们看到的那团乌云那边——那儿有座‘蜜糖山’。那个幸福的国度将是我们可怜的动物摆脱了尘世之后的归宿!”他甚至声称曾在一次高空飞行中到过那里,并看到了那里一望无际的苜蓿地,亚麻子饼和方糖就长在树篱上。很多动物相信了他的话。他们推想,他们现在生活在饥饿和劳累之中,那么换一种情形,难道就不该合情合理地有一个好得多的世界吗?难以谈判的是猪对待摩西的态度,他们都轻蔑地称他那些“蜜糖山”的说法全是谎言,可是仍然允许他留在庄园,允许他不干活,每天还给他一吉尔的啤酒作为补贴。

鲍克瑟的蹄掌痊愈之后,他干活就更拼命了。其实,在这一年,所有的动物干起活来都象奴隶一般。庄园里除了那些常见的活和第三次建造风车的事之外,还要给年幼的猪盖学堂,这一工程是在三月份动工的。有时,在食不果腹的情况下长时间劳动是难以忍受的,但鲍克瑟从未退缩过。他的一言一行没有任何迹象表明他的干劲不如过去,只是外貌上有点小小的变化:他的皮毛没有以前那么光亮,粗壮的腰部似乎也有点萎缩。别的动物说:“等春草长上来时,鲍克瑟就会慢慢恢复过来”;但是,春天来了,鲍克瑟却并没有长胖。有时,当他在通往矿顶的坡上,用尽全身气力顶着那些巨型圆石头的重荷的时候,撑持他的力量仿佛唯有不懈的意志了。这种时候,他总是一声不吭,但猛地看上去,似乎还隐约见到他口中念念有词“我要更加努力工作”。克拉弗和本杰明又一次警告他,要当心身体,但鲍克瑟不予理会。他的十二岁生日临近了,但他没有放在心上,而一心一意想的只是在领取养老津贴之前把石头攒够。

夏天的一个傍晚,快到天黑的时候,有个突如其来的消息传遍整个庄园,说鲍克瑟出了什么事。在这之前,他曾独自外出,往风车那里拉了一车石头。果然,消息是真的。几分钟后两只鸽子急速飞过来,带来消息说:“鲍克瑟倒下去了!他现在正側着身体躺在那里,站不起来了!”

庄园里大约有一半动物冲了出去,赶到建风车的小山包上。鲍克瑟就躺在那里。他在车辕中间伸着脖子,连头也抬不起来,眼睛眨巴着,两肋的毛被汗水粘得一团一团的,嘴里流出一股稀稀的鲜血。克拉弗跪倒在他的身边。

“鲍克瑟!”她呼喊道,“你怎么啦?”

“我的肺,”鲍克瑟用微弱的声音说,“没关系,我想没有我你们也能建成风车,备用的石头已经积攒够了。我充其量只有一个月时间了。不瞒你说,我一直盼望着退休。眼看本杰明年老了,说不定他们会让他同时退休,和我作个伴。”

“我们会得到帮助的,”克拉弗叫到,“快,谁跑去告诉斯奎拉出事啦。”

其他动物全都立即跑回庄主院,向斯奎拉报告这一消息,只有克拉弗和本杰明留下来。本杰明躺在鲍克瑟旁边,不声不响地用他的长尾巴给鲍克瑟赶苍蝇。大约过了一刻钟,斯奎拉满怀同情和关切赶到现场。他说拿破仑同志已得知此事,对庄园里这样一位最忠诚的成员发生这种不幸感到十分悲伤,而且已在安排把鲍克瑟送往威灵顿的医院治疗。动物们对此感到有些不安,因为除了莫丽和斯诺鲍之外,其他动物从未离开过庄园,他们不愿想到把一位患病的同志交给人类。然而,斯奎拉毫不费力地说服了他们,他说在威灵顿的兽医院比在庄园里能更好地治疗鲍克瑟的病。大约过了半小时,鲍克瑟有些好转了,他好不容易才站起来,一步一颤地回到他的厩棚,里面已经由克拉弗和本杰明给他准备了一个舒适的稻草床。

此后两天里,鲍克瑟就呆在他的厩棚里。猪送来了一大瓶红色的药,那是他们在卫生间的药柜里发现的,由克拉弗在饭后给鲍克瑟服用,每天用药两次。晚上,她躺在他的棚子里和他聊天,本杰明给他赶苍蝇。鲍克瑟声言对所发生的事并不后悔。如果他能彻底康复,他还希望自己能再活上三年。他盼望着能在大牧场的一角平平静静地住上一阵。那样的话,他就能第一次腾出空来学习,以增长才智。他说,他打算利用全部余生去学习字母表上还剩下的二十二个字母。

然而,本杰明和克拉弗只有在收工之后才能和鲍克瑟在一起。而正是那一天中午,有一辆车来了,拉走了鲍克瑟。当时,动物们正在一头猪的监视下忙着在萝卜地里除草,忽然,他们惊讶地看着本杰明从庄园窝棚那边飞奔而来,一边还扯着嗓子大叫着。这是他们第一次见到本杰明如此激动,事实上,也是第一次看到他奔跑。“快,快!”他大声喊着,“快来呀!他们要拉走鲍克瑟!”没等猪下命令,动物们全都放下活计,迅速跑回去了。果然,院子里停着一辆大篷车,由两匹马拉着,车边上写着字,驾车人的位置上坐着一个男人,阴沉着脸,头戴一顶低檐圆礼帽。鲍克瑟的棚子空着。

动物们围住车,异口同声地说:“再见,鲍克瑟!再见!”

“笨蛋!傻瓜!”本杰明喊着,绕着他们一边跳,一边用他的小蹄掌敲打着地面:“傻瓜!你们没看见车边上写着什么吗?”

这下子,动物们犹豫了,场面也静了下来。穆丽尔开始拼读那些字。可本杰明却把她推到了一边,他自己就在死一般的寂静中念到:

“‘威灵顿,艾夫列·西蒙兹,屠马商兼煮胶商,皮革商兼供应狗食的骨粉商。’你们不明白这是什么意思吗?他们要把鲍克瑟拉到在宰马场去!”

听到这些,所有的动物都突然迸发出一阵恐惧的哭嚎。就在这时,坐在车上的那个人扬鞭催马,马车在一溜小跑中离开大院。所有的动物都跟在后面,拼命地叫喊着。克拉弗硬挤到最前面。这时,马车开始加速,克拉弗也试图加快她那粗壮的四肢赶上去,并且越跑越快,“鲍克瑟!”她哭喊道,“鲍克瑟!鲍克瑟!鲍克瑟!”恰在这时,好像鲍克瑟听到了外面的喧嚣声,他的面孔,带着一道直通鼻子的白毛,出现在车后的小窗子里。

“鲍克瑟!”克拉弗凄厉地哭喊道,“鲍克瑟!出来!快出来!他们要送你去死!”

所有的动物一齐跟着哭喊起来,“出来,鲍克瑟,快出来!”但马车已经加速,离他们越来越远了。说不准鲍克瑟到底是不是听清了克拉弗喊的那些话。但不一会,他的脸从窗上消失了,接着车内响起一阵巨大的马蹄踢蹬声。他是在试图踹开车子出来。按说只要几下,鲍克瑟就能把车厢踢个粉碎。可是天啊!时过境迁,他已没有力气起了;一忽儿,马蹄的踢蹬声渐渐变弱直至消失了。奋不顾身的动物便开始恳求拉车的两匹马停下来,“朋友,朋友!”他们大声呼喊,“别把你们的亲兄弟拉去送死!”但是那两匹愚蠢的畜牲,竟然傻得不知道这是怎么回事,只管竖起耳朵加速奔跑。鲍克瑟的面孔再也没有出现在窗子上。有的动物想跑到前面关上五栅门,但是太晚了,一瞬间,马车就已冲出大门,飞快地消失在大路上。再也见不到鲍克瑟了。

三天之后,据说他已死在威灵顿的医院里,但是,作为一匹马,他已经得到了无微不至的照顾。这个消息是由斯奎拉当众宣布的,他说,在鲍克瑟生前的最后几小时里,他一直守候在场。

“那是我见到过的最受感动的场面!”他一边说,一边抬起蹄子抹去一滴泪水,“在最后一刻我守在他床边。临终前,他几乎衰弱得说不出话来,他凑在我的耳边轻声说,他唯一遗憾的是在风车建成之前死去。他低声说:‘同志们,前进!以起义的名义前进,动物庄园万岁!拿破仑同志万岁!拿破仑永远正确。’同志们,这些就是他的临终遗言。”

讲到这里,斯奎拉忽然变了脸色,他沉默一会,用他那双小眼睛射出的疑神疑鬼的目光扫视了一下会场,才继续讲下去。

他说,据他所知,鲍克瑟给拉走后,庄园上流传着一个愚蠢的、不怀好意的谣言。有的动物注意到,拉走鲍克瑟的马车上有“屠马商”的标记,就信口开河地说,鲍克瑟被送到宰马场了。他说,几乎难以置信竟有这么傻的动物。他摆着尾巴左右蹦跳着,愤愤地责问,从这一点来看,他们真的很了解敬爱的领袖拿破仑同志吗?其实,答案十分简单,那辆车以前曾归一个屠马商所有,但兽医院已买下了它,不过他们还没有来得及把旧名字涂掉。正是因为这一点,才引起大家的误会。

动物们听到这里,都大大地松了一口气。接着斯奎拉继续绘声绘色地描述着鲍克瑟的灵床和他所受到的优待,还有拿破仑为他不惜一切代价购置的贵重药品等等细节。于是他们打消了最后一丝疑虑,想到他们的同志在幸福中死去,他们的悲哀也消解了。

在接下来那个星期天早晨的会议上,拿破仑亲自到会,为向鲍克瑟致敬宣读了一篇简短的悼辞。他说,已经不可能把他们亡故的同志的遗体拉回来并埋葬在庄园里了。但他已指示,用庄主院花园里的月桂花做一个大花圈,送到鲍克瑟的墓前。并且,几天之后,猪还打算为向鲍克瑟致哀举行一追悼宴会。最后,拿破仑以“我要更加努力工作”和“拿破仑同志永远正确”这两句鲍克瑟心爱的格言结束了他的讲话。在提到这两句格言时,他说,每个动物都应该把这两句格言作为自己的借鉴,并认真地贯彻到实际行动中去。

到了确定为宴会的那一天,一辆杂货商的马车从威灵顿驶来,在庄主院交付了一只大木箱。当天晚上,庄主院里传来一阵鼓噪的歌声,在此之后,又响起了另外一种声音,听上去象是在激烈地吵闹,这吵闹声直到十一点左右的时候,在一阵打碎了玻璃的巨响声中才静了下来。直到第二天中午之前,庄主院不见任何动静。同时,又流传着这样一个小道消息,说猪先前不知从哪里搞到了一笔钱,并给他们又买了一箱威士忌。