All the animals on the farm were sad that day. The Wise Old Owl who kept an ever-present eye on the fields for rats and mice cooed a sad, low hoo-hoo. Moaning, whimpering and wailing, Barnabus, Scylla and Chardibis lay in the dusty dirt by the old broken windmills, right by the plaque that was put up in honor of an old hero named Boxer. Even the chicken coop that used to clitter and clack with merry clucking was full mournful chatter. The cows mooed low and the horses whinnied wearily.
After all, Old Man Kennedy was dead.
No one on Animal Farm knew how exactly Old Man Kennedy died. There were witnesses who said they saw different things and, of course, there was the official story that the likes of Old George were spreading around. The only thing anyone knew was that it was poison that did him in - well, they knew that and that Old Man Kennedy's Camelot Farm would never come to light. Bernard, the mangy old mutt who never cleaned his coat, who always growled and screamed - but who always spoke his mind and told the truth - spent his time walking around Animal Farm spreading his version of things to anyone who would listen. He sat in the chicken coop for the whole afternoon preaching to the hens. Then, he might be with the dopy-eyed cows, warning about how their milk was in danger, or he might be with the horses reminding them how Old Boxer the Hero of the Old Days of Animal Farm was worked to death and then shuffled off to a glue farm like so much meat and bones. In the yard, Bernard would yap, bark and speak his mind to anyone who passed by: "They're lying to you," Bernard would yell. "All of those pigs, Old George, Young George, Dick and Donald, all of them. It wasn't Lee the Adder who poisoned Old Man Kennedy. It couldn't have been."
"How do you know, Bernie?" asked Ruby, a Chihuahua with a sharp little nose and glaring white daggers for teeth who always shook with excitement. "Who told you the truth?"
"I know the truth," Bernie said, wildly darting among the animals in the yard. "There were three bites marks on the old man, not just one like they said. One on his ankle, one on his left arm and one was on his left hand. How could one adder do that?"
"I guess that's right," Marksy the plough horse said in his slow, careful, if not slightly daft, drawl, "but that's not what the pigs were saying. The Pigs all say it was Lee the Adder who did it because he knew that Old Man Kennedy was going to kill all the snakes on the farm and make it a better place. That's what the Pigs say."
"You can't chat with pigs without rolling in the mud," said Bernie. "What is a pig, anyway? They ruined the farm once, wallowing in whisky, stealing your food and (turning to the hens who had come out of their coop to hear Bernie's yapping) taking your children, slaughtering chicks and killing the hardest worker this farm ever knew - Boxer. Then they chased away the only decent pig who ever had a brain in his skull: Snowball. Look at them over there in their pen, up to their trotters in filth and mud and slop, eating and sitting around all day. What do they do? What do they make? Nothing! They're only good when their throats are slit and they're made into bacon and chops - and even then they're thick with fat while you're out here scraping by. They get fat and you feed them. How is that fair?"
"That really doesn't sound fair at all," Marksy agreed as he kicked the dry dirt of the farm with his hoof.
The owl hoo-hooed and the hens clucked with their old passion at that point. The horses whinnied loud and merrily while the cows lowed and mooed like a broken symphony. Meanwhile, the pigs stopped eating and trotted over to the fence that separated them from the rest. Their mouths hung open with mud, filth, and drool dripping away, a look of awe, fear and anger mixing in their eyes as Bernie roused the crowd that stood around him.
"What's he saying? I don't understand his words, daddy." asked Young George, who had been the runt of the litter and had darned near killed his mother when he came out. Young George was always trailing along behind the pack, and he probably would have been fed to the dogs years ago had it not been for his father. Old Man Kennedy always said Young George must have not gotten enough oxygen while he was being born; either that or the forceps crushed his brain a little too hard and a little too long.
Old George was a big, fat thing who ate more than any other pig. When Old Man Kennedy would come with the slop bucket to feed the pigs, Old George would come running, barreling into Donald and Dick (his loyal sidekicks since what they called the "Golden Years" of Napoleon's rule of Animal Farm), practically pummeling even his own son to get to the grub. When he had his fill, the rest could eat, and only after all the pigs ate could the rest of the farm animals eat. Old George had always thought that if he could only get Old Man Kennedy out of the way, he could take rule back to the Pigs, just like his idol Napoleon had done. Old George would wallow in his mud-hole with his big, fat belly warming in the sun, envisioning himself in the barn with all the other animals around him, all of them trembling in fear of his power and hanging on every one of his crucially important, well-chosen words. "A plan," he would often mutter to himself, "we need a plan. If only we had a plan."
"What are they saying, daddy?" Young George asked again.
"They're talking filth, especially that Bernard," Old George said in a seething, hissing tone.
Donald and Dick sidled up next to the other two. Of all pigs, the vile and stinking creatures they were, Donald and Dick sneered the most, stank the worst and walked about with a glaring, greedy meanness in their eyes. They were always at Old George's side just waiting for their turn to eat at the trough or scoop up a random cornhusk that may have fallen from their leader's mouth, or lap up some stray slop off of his trotters.
"They called us fat, George," Donald said with sinister sneer.
"And lazy," Dick said.
"They said we don't produce anything," Donald added, "and that all we do is sit around all day eating and rolling around in slop."
"Is that true, daddy?" asked Young George.
"No, Georgie," the father said, "they're just jealous of us pigs. They're jealous that we live the good life while they work and slave away. Why everything good and lasting on this farm has always come from pigs. You should have been around during the days of Napoleon. Now there was a leader. A pig with vision and courage. Too bad he was cut short before his greatest achievement."
Donald looked up to the sky and then spoke in reverential tones, "The pipeline."
"The Pipeline," Dick echoed with similar reverence.
"The Pipeline?" Young George inquired.
"Yes, Georgie, The Pipeline," the father told his son. "It was something only Napoleon could have imagined. Only a Pig like him could have had the greatness of mind, the creativity, the sheer will to power to even think that something like The Pipeline could be a reality."
"But what was it?" Young George asked.
"The greatest invention of Pig History," the father continued. "Right over there, on the other side of the farm is the storehouse - a virtual Garden of Eden, a cornucopia of feed, grain, slop, dried meats, salted meats, rotten fruits, fresh fruits, kerosene for light and oil … tons of oil."
"So where does The Pipeline come in?" the son asked.
"Napoleon was going to build a pipeline from the storehouse, right down the middle of the yard, just east of the farmhouse, to right here where we live. Worker animals would be on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to fill The Pipeline with whatever we Pigs desired, from food to oil, and all we'd have to do is send the Wise Old Owl over there with our order and in minutes all our desires would be met. Our lives would be little more than eating, drinking and wallowing in the mud while all of them out there tend to our needs."
Bernard was still out there among the others yapping away about the Pigs, their greed, their sloth, and how Old Man Kennedy had been murdered and how it was not an accident - he called it an "assassination." Old George watched him and groaned low and deep as his face writhed and wrinkled. His brow creased in anger. "Dick. Donald," he said while keeping his piercing gaze on Bernard out in the yard, "we have to do something about this. Napoleon must be turning over in his grave. We need to reinstate our righteous place as Pigs - a place of power."
"What should we do, George?" Donald asked.
"Yeah," Dick echoed, "what shall we do?"
"Call an election," Old George said calmly.
"That's madness," Dick said. "Bernard is way too popular. He'll get all the votes - the hens, the horses, those stupid cows."
"And don't forget the Wise Old Owl," Donald chimed in, "and the field mice, and the other dogs and the stray cats. Everyone but the snakes and the pigs will vote for him. How are we going to beat him?"
Old George remained calm. Donald and Dick knew that when Old George got calm and quiet he was hatching up a plan, and when he was doing that, they knew it would be cold and sinister. The old man groaned slightly and bristled at the dissent. "Just do what I say. And call in Murdoch."
"Murdoch?" Dick said and he gasped.
"Not Murdoch," Donald said. "What do we need him for?"
"Just find him," Old George said, "and hurry up. We don't have any time to spare."