Standing atop of his watchtower, Winston the rooster surveyed his domain—and it was his domain. It even seemed to some animals that it was old Winston, and not Mr McGinley, who was boss on the farm. For although Mr McGinley chose which hens lived and which would be killed, which piglets would be kept and which would be sold, and though he decided the fate of all the other animals, he had no say in which rooster became chief. And though Mr McGinley told the sheepdog where to run, and put bridles on the horses, and even made the great bull plough his paddocks, he never told Winston when to crow. Winston even had his own house. The other animals on the farm had to share their houses: the pigs shared the sty, the cows shared the barn, the hens shared the henhouse and the horses shared the stable—even Mr McGinley shared the farmhouse with Mrs McGinley. But Winston didn’t stay with the other chickens; he slept alone in the old wooden shed next to the henhouse. Mr McGinley didn’t use that shed anymore. It was mostly empty, but for some planks of wood and a few shelves holding old tools and paint tins. The floor was strewn with hay and sawdust, and there were cobwebs throughout. It was dark and dusty and the door had fallen off, but at night Winston had it all to himself. He was the king and that shed was his castle. No animal on the farm commanded respect like the old rooster.
When Winston was satisfied that the farm was awake and about its business, he ruffled his feathers with a shudder and nodded to himself. He flapped down from the big white fencepost and was met by Sonny, the little grey rooster. “Good morning, Winston,” said the young rooster.
“Good morning, Sonny,” said Winston.
The old rooster was gruff and he liked solitude, but he didn’t mind having Sonny around. Some chickens thought it was out of pity for the little rooster, since he held an embarrassingly low place in the pecking order. Others thought it was because he posed no threat; even though Sonny was now old enough to challenge the chief, he didn’t have the size or strength to go talon to talon with a seasoned fighter like Winston. Besides, Sonny had never displayed the least amount of ambition or aggression; he just wasn’t chief rooster material. But the truth was Winston saw something of himself in that little grey rooster. As for Sonny, the nature of his interest in Winston was much less cryptic: he idolised him.
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