Trouble is brewing on the farm, bubbling slowly underneath the surface, but drowned out by raucous praise worship services of animals loyal to White, who have now started a religion. Whitism they call it. Whitists they call themselves. And where Whitism thrives, there is neither failure nor evil; neither mistakes nor bad choices. With Whitism there is no trouble, even where there is trouble. Because old things have passed away and all things have become new and white.
White is walking, hands behind his back, observing Whitist prayer sessions, silent. He looks away when some species leaders pay young animals to become full time Whitist priests. He nods and the farm hands know what to do. They sweep in, moving to the rhythm of Whitist hymns, picking up animals who were loyal to Goodhead and his hyena That’s Uki. White stares at the crocodile swamp as he passes by, glowering at the leader of the crocodiles. The crocodile leader is a sworn Whitist and patron to a few young Whitist priests. Or at least he says so. The crocodile leader watches as White occasionally stops to rest because his liver is acting up. Soon White will have to travel to a farm far away where they have veterinary surgeons who perform transplants. The crocodile leader allows himself to dream that perhaps, soon, if White gets too tired to run the farm, he can step in and become farm manager. White knows this and that is why he glowers.
“Bless me White for I am your loyal servant,” the crocodile leader says, bowing, as White comes closer.
White blesses him but both their eyes say something else.
The crocodile leader’s eyes say: I can see that you will not last very long. I do not agree with many things that you do. I will complain in private. But I will hang on. Because soon, I will become farm manager.
White’s eyes say: I can see that you want to become farm manager. But I remember a time when I came to visit the farm, when you still worked for Goodhead. I remember the way you spat at me then, before you began to swear that you were a Whitist. And I do not forget. I never forget.
White says: “You are blessed, my dimunitive crocodile son.”
He winces in pain. The crocodile leader smiles.
The rumours of White and the pain in his side are spreading. The rumour that White does not intend to stay too long as farm manager is also spreading. And all the animal heads are watching and making moves so that if the pain in White’s side becomes too great to handle or if White decides not to continue as farm manager, they can step in and take over.
As the animal leaders are plotting, the Whitist priests are turning up the volume of their praise worship services. Young animals are receiving extra portions of food to drum and formulate songs about all the great things that White is doing. Young Whitists go to places where animals worry about the limp in White’s walk and whether White knows exactly how to bring the farm back to life. They go there and they begin to drum, very loudly.
White is walking. May he walk faster.
White is thrusting. May he thrust harder.
White is winning. May he win better.
And we are joyful. May our joy increase.
They dance around in circles and accuse people who ask them to be a little quiet of being traitors and friends of That’s Uki, the hyena who helped Goodhead plunder the farm.
White is changing his mind about a few of the things that were promised in meetings he held with animals who secretly opposed Goodhead, at around the time when he was trying to take over the farm. White told them that he would give 5 cups of grain to animals who could look for their own food. At that meeting it was not White who spoke, but one of his assistants. He only nodded. And now White has changed his mind. So he has asked one of his new assistants to make announcements in the centre of farm to say that 5 grains to all indolent animals was simply unrealistic. And as the assistant speaks, White nods, silent.
Deep in the south of the farm there is trouble brewing. One of the pipes carrying water from the marshes to the rest of the farm has been blown up. The word on the farm is that a wild dog named Some Fellow who used to be friends with Goodhead has done it. White has been trying to get Some Fellow and has asked his farm hands to chain it wherever it is found. But animals are hard to capture in the dark marshes. This is great for the leader of the turtles and the prominent turtles who live in the marshes. Any of them can blow up the water pipes and blame it on Some Fellow.
It has been a long time since a wild dog blew up a water pipe.
There is still not much food on the farm. That’s Uki is still reeling out names of those with whom he and Goodhead plundered the farm. Dead bats, massacred by farm hand Dick-Tai, still smell in the corners of the farm. The Whitist religion grows stronger and louder – they now have external loudspeakers in their places of worship. And White still walks around the farm, hands behind his back, feeling a pain in his side, silent.
PS. As usual, no animals were harmed in the production of this story, not even goats who get yams to serve as full time Whitist priests. And any coincidence between the animals on this farm and any humans, real or imagined, dead or alive, is just that - a coincidence.