The Rocking-Horse Winner
There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck~She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny
1children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them.
They looked at her coldly, as if they were finding fault with her. And hurriedly she felt she must cover up some fault in herself. Yet what it was that she must cover up she never knew. Nevertheless, when her children were present, she always felt the centre of her heart go hard. This troubled her, and in her manner she was all the more
2gentle and anxious for her children, as if she loved them very much. Only she herself
knew that at the centre of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no,
3not for anybody. Everybody else said of her: “She is such a good mother. She adores
her children.” Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each other’s eyes.
There were a boy and two little girls. They lived in a pleasant house, with a garden, and they had discreet servants, and felt themselves superior to anyone in the neighbourhood.
4Although they lived in style, they felt always an anxiety in the house. There was
never enough money. The mother had a small income, and the father had a small income, but not nearly enough for the social position which they had to keep up. The father went into town to some office. But though he had good prospects, these
5prospects never materialized. There was always the grinding sense of the shortage of money, though the style was always kept up.
At last the mother said: “I will see if I can’t make something.” But she did not know where to begin. She racked her brains, and tried this thing and the other, but could not find anything successful. The failure made deep lines come into her face. Her children were growing up; they would have to go to school. There must be more money, there must be more money. The father, who was always very handsome and expensive in his tastes, seemed as if he never would be able to do anything worth
doing. And the mother, who had a great belief in herself, did not succeed any better, and her tastes were just as expensive.
And so the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There must be
more money! There must be more money! The children could hear it all the time,
though nobody said it aloud. They heard it at Christmas, when the expensive and splendid toys filled the nursery. Behind the shining modern rocking-horse, behind the smart doll’s house, a voice would start whispering: “There must be more money!
There must be more money!” And the children would stop playing to listen for a
1 they had been thrust upon her?他们，孩子们：是硬塞给她的。 2 in her manner she was all the more gentle and anxious for her children?她对孩子们表现得更加和蔼可亲；更
加关心。 3 adore?极其喜爱。 4 live in style?过着奢华的生活。 5 these prospects never materialized?这些期望绝不会实现。
moment. They would look into each other’s eyes, to see if they had all heard. And each one saw in the eyes of the other two that they too had heard. “There must be
more money；There must be more money!”
It came whispering from the springs of the still-swaying rocking-horse, and even the horse, bending his wooden, champing head, heard it. The big doll, sitting so pink and smirking in her new pram, could near it quite plainly, and seemed to be smirking all the more self-consciously because of it. The foolish puppy, too, that took the place of the teddy-bear, he was looking so extraordinarily foolish for no other reason but that he heard the secret whisper all over the house: “There must be more money!”
Yet nobody ever said it aloud. The whisper was everywhere, and therefore no one spoke it. Just as no one ever says: “We are breathing!” in spite of the fact that
breath is coming and going all the time.
“Mother,” said the boy Paul one day, “why don’t we keep a car of our own? Why do we always use uncle’s, or else a taxi?”
“Because we’re the poor members of the family,” said the mother.”
But why are we, mother?”
“Well—I suppose,” she said slowly and bitterly, “it’s because your father has no luck.”
The boy was silent for some time.
“Is luck money, mother?” he asked, rather timidly.
“No, Paul. Not quite. It’s what causes you to have money.”
“Oh!” said Paul vaguely. “I thought when Uncle Oscar said filthy-lucker, it
“Filthy Lucre does mean money,” said the mother. “But it’s lucre, not luck.”
“Oh” said the boy. “Then what is luck, mother?”
“It’s what causes you to have money. If you’re lucky you have money. That’s why it’s better to be born lucky than rich. If you’re rich, you may lose your money. But if you’re lucky, you will always get more money.”
“Oh；Will you? And is father not lucky?”
“Very unlucky, I should say,” she said bitterly. The boy watched her with unsure eyes.
“Why?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Nobody ever knows why one person is lucky and another unlucky.”
“Don’t they? Nobody at all?Does nobody know?”
“Perhaps God. But He never tells.”
“He ought to, then. And aren’t you lucky either, mother?”
“I can’t be, if I married an unlucky husband.”
“But by yourself, aren’t you?”
“I used to think I was, before I married. Now, I think I am very unlucky indeed.”
“Well—never mind! Perhaps I’m not really,” she said.
The child looked at her, to see if she meant it. But he saw, by the lines of her
6mouth, that she was only trying to hide something from him.
“Well, anyhow,” he said stoutly, “I’m a lucky person.”
“Why?” said his mother, with a sudden laugh.
He stared at her. He didn’t even know why he had said it.
7“God told me,” he asserted, brazening it out.
“I hope He did, dear!” she said, again with a laugh, but rather bitter.
“He did, mother!”
“Excellent!” said the mother, using one of her husband’s exclamations.
The boy saw she did not believe him; or, rather, that she paid no attention to his
8assertion. This angered him somewhat, and made him want to compel her attention.
He went off by himself, vaguely, in a childish way, seeking for the clue to “luck.” Absorbed, taking no heed of other people, he went about with a sort of stealth, seeking inwardly for luck. He wanted luck, he wanted it, he wanted it. When the two girls were playing dolls in the nursery, he would sit on his big rocking-horse, charging
9madly into space, with a frenzy that made the little girls peer at him uneasily. Wildly
10the horse careered, the waving dark hair of the boy tossed, his eyes had a strange glare in them. The little girls dared not speak to him.
When he had ridden to the end of his mad little journey, he climbed down and stood in front of his rocking-horse, staring fixedly into its lowered face. Its red mouth was slightly open, its big eye was wide and glassy-bright.
“Now!” he would silently command the snorting steed. “Now, take me to where there is luck! Now take me!”
And he would slash the horse on the neck with the little whip he had asked Uncle Oscar for. He knew the horse could take him to where there was luck, if only he forced it. So he would mount again, and start on his furious ride, hoping at last to get there. He knew he could get there.
“You’ll break your horse, Paul!” said the nurse.
“He’s always riding like that；I wish he’d leave off!” said his elder sister Joan.
But he only glared down on them in silence. Nurse gave him up. She could make
11nothing of him. Anyhow he was growing beyond her.
One day his mother and his Uncle Oscar came in when he was on one of his furious rides. He did not speak to them.
“Hallo, you young jockey! Riding a winner?” said his uncle.
“Aren’t you growing too big for a rocking horse? You’re not a very little boy any longer, you know,” said his mother.
But Paul only gave a blue glare from his big, rather close-set eyes. He would speak to nobody when he was in full tilt. His mother watched him with an anxious expression on her face.
6 by the lines of her mouth?从母亲嘴角的皱纹。 7 brazening it out?厚着脸皮说出来。 8 compel her attention?引起她的关注。 9 charging madly into space?疯狂地旋转着。 10 Wildly the horse careered?疯狂地策马疾驰。 11 he was growing beyond her?他已经长大；已不为她所能理解了。
At last he suddenly stopped forcing his horse into the mechanical gallop, and slid down.
“Well, I got there!” he announced fiercely, his blue eyes still flaring, and his
sturdy long legs straddling apart.
“Where did you get to?” asked his mother.
“Where I wanted to go,” he flared back at her.
“That’s right, son!” said Uncle Oscar. “Don’t you stop till you get there. What’s the horse’s name?”
“He doesn’t have a name,” said the boy.
12“Gets on without all right?” asked the uncle.
“Well, he has different names. He was called Sansovino last week.”
13“Sansovino, eh? Won the Ascot. How did you know his name?”
“He always talks about horse-races with Bassett,” said Joan.
The uncle was delighted to find that his small nephew was posted with all the
14racing news. Bassett, the young gardener, who had been wounded in the left foot in the war and had got his present job through Oscar Cresswell, whose batman he had
15been, was a perfect blade of the “turf.“ He lived in the racing events, and the small
boy lived with him.
Oscar Cresswell got it all from Bassett.
“Master Paul comes and asks me, so I can’t do more than tell him, sir,” said Bassett, his face terribly serious, as if he were speaking of religious matters.
“And does he ever put anything on a horse he fancies?”
“Well—I don’t want to give him away—he’s a young sport, a fine sport, sir. Would you mind asking him yourself? He sort of takes a pleasure in it, and perhaps he’d feel I was giving him away, sir, if you don’t mind.”
Bassett was serious as a church.
The uncle went back to his nephew, and took him off for a ride in the car.
“Say, Paul, old man, do you ever put anything on a horse?” the uncle asked.
The boy watched the handsome man closely.
“Why, do you think I oughtn’t to?” he parried.
“Not a bit of it. I thought perhaps you might give me a tip for the Lincoln.”
The car sped on into the country, going down to Uncle Oscar’s place in
“Honour bright?” said the nephew.
“Honour bright, son!” said the uncle.
“Well, then, Daffodil.”
“Daffodil! I doubt it, sonny. What about Mirza?”
“I only know the winner,” said the boy. “That’s Daffodil.”
12 Gets on without all right?没有也没关系? 13 the Ascot?爱斯科赛马会；世界最著名的赛马比赛。 14 was posted with all the racing news?对所有赛事都很灵通。 15 “turf”?赛马迷。 16 Hampshire?汉普郡。英国南部的一个郡。
There was a pause. Daffodil was an obscure horse comparatively.
“You won’t let it go any further, will you? I promised Bassett.”
“Bassett be damned, old man! What’s he got to do with it?”
“We’re partners. We’ve been partners from the first. Uncle, he lent me my first five shillings, which I lost. I promised him, honour bright, it was only between me and him; only you gave me that ten-shilling note I started winning with, so I thought you were lucky. You won’t let it go any further, will you?”
The boy gazed at his uncle from those big, hot, blue eyes, set rather close together. The uncle stirred and laughed uneasily.
“Right you are, son；I’ll keep your tip private. Daffodil, eh? How much are you putting on him?”
17“All except twenty pounds,” said the boy. “I keep that in reserve.”
The uncle thought it a good joke.
“You keep twenty pounds in reserve, do you, you young romancer? What are you betting, then?”
“I’m betting three hundred,” said the boy gravely. “But it’s between you and me, Uncle Oscar；Honour bright?”
The uncle burst into a roar of laughter.
18“It’s between you and me all right, you young Nat Gould,” he said, laughing.
“But where’s your three hundred?”
“Bassett keeps it for me. We’re partners.”
“You are, are you! And what is Bassett putting on Daffodil?”
“He won’t go quite as high as I do, I expect. Perhaps he’ll go a hundred and fifty.”
“What, pennies?” laughed the uncle.
“Pounds,” said the child, with a surprised look at his uncle.” Bassett keeps a bigger reserve than I do.”
Between wonder and amusement Uncle Oscar was silent. He pursued the matter no further, but he determined to take his nephew with him to the Lincoln races.
“Now, son,” he said, “I’m putting twenty on Mirza, and I’ll put five for you on any horse you fancy. What’s your pick?”
“No, not the fiver on Daffodil!”
“I should if it was my own fiver,” said the child.
“Good! Good! Right you are! A fiver for me and a fiver for you on Daffodil.”
The child had never been to a race-meeting before, and his eyes were blue fire.
19He pursed his mouth tight, and watched. A Frenchman just in front had put his
money on Lancelot. Wild with excitement, he flayed his arms up and down, yelling, “Lancelot! Lancelot!” in his French accent.
17 I keep that in reserve?我把那个留下来备用。 18 Nat Gould?纳特?古尔德，1857-1919：；英国作家、记者；著有一百多本有关赛马的通
俗小说。 19 pursed his mouth tight?他撅着紧闭的嘴。
Daffodil came in first, Lancelot second, Mirza third. The child, flushed and with eyes blazing, was curiously serene. His uncle brought him four five-pound notes, four to one.
“What am I to do with these?” he cried, “waving them before the boy’s eyes.”
“I suppose we’ll talk to Bassett,” said the boy. “I expect I have fifteen hundred now; and twenty in reserve; and this twenty.”
His uncle studied him for some moments.
“Look here, son!” he said. “You’re not serious about Bassett and that fifteen hundred, are you?”
“Yes, I am. But it’s between you and me, uncle. Honour bright!”
“Honour bright all right, son! But I must talk to Bassett.”
“If you’d like to be a partner, uncle, with Bassett and me, we could all be
partners. Only, you’d have to promise, honour bright, uncle, not to let it go beyond us three. Bassett and I are lucky, and you must be lucky, because it was your ten shillings I started winning with….”
Uncle Oscar took both Bassett and Paul into Richmond Park for an afternoon, and there they talked.
“It’s like this, you see, sir,” Bassett said. “Master Paul would get me talking about racing events, spinning yarns, you know, sir. And he was always keen on knowing if I’d made or if I’d lost. It’s about a year since, now, that I put five shillings on Blush of Dawn for him—and we lost. Then the luck turned, with that ten shillings he had from you: that we put on Singhalese. And since that time, it’s been pretty steady, all things considering. What do you say, Master Paul?”
“We’re all right when we’re sure,” said Paul. “It’s when we’re not quite sure that we go down.”
“Oh, but we’re careful then,” said Bassett.
“But when are you sure?” smiled Uncle Oscar.
“It’s Master Paul, sir,” said Bassett, in a secret, religious voice. “It’s as if he had
it from heaven. Like Daffodil, now, for the Lincoln. That was as sure as eggs.”
“Did you put anything on Daffodil?” asked Oscar Cresswell.
“Yes, sir. I made my bit.”
“And my nephew?”
Bassett was obstinately silent, looking at Paul.
“I made twelve hundred, didn’t I, Bassett? I told uncle I was putting three hundred on Daffodil.”
“That’s right,” said Bassett, nodding.
“But where’s the money?” asked the uncle.
“I keep it safe locked up, sir. Master Paul he can have it any minute he likes to
ask for it.”
“What, fifteen hundred pounds?”
“And twenty! and forty, that is, with the twenty he made on the course.”
“It’s amazing!” said the uncle.
“If Master Paul offers you to be partners, sir, I would, if I were you; if you’ll excuse me,” said Bassett.
Oscar Cresswell thought about it.
“I’ll see the money,” he said.
They drove home again, and sure enough, Bassett came round to the garden-house with fifteen hundred pounds in notes. The twenty pounds reserve was
20left with Joe Glee, in the Turf Commission deposit.
“You see, it’s all right, uncle, when I’m sure；Then we go strong, for all we’re
worth. Don’t we, Bassett!”
“We do that, Master Paul.”
“And when are you sure?” said the uncle, laughing.
“Oh, well, sometimes I’m absolutely sure, like about Daffodil,” said the boy,
“and sometimes I have an idea; and sometimes I haven’t even an idea, have I, Bassett? Then we’re careful, because we mostly go down.”
“You do, do you；And when you’re sure, like about Daffodil, what makes you sure, sonny?”
“Oh, well, I don’t know,” said the boy uneasily. “I’m sure, you know, uncle;
“It’s as if he had it from heaven, sir,” Bassett reiterated.
“I should say so!” said the uncle.
But he became a partner. And when the Leger was coming on, Paul was “sure” about Lively Spark, which was a quite inconsiderable horse. The boy insisted on putting a thousand on the horse, Bassett went for five hundred, and Oscar Cresswell two hundred. Lively Spark came in first, and the betting had been ten to one against him. Paul had made ten thousand.
“You see,” he said, “I was absolutely sure of him.”
21Even Oscar Cresswell had cleared two thousand.
“Look here, son,” he said, “this sort of thing makes me nervous.”
“It needn’t, uncle! Perhaps I shan’t be sure again for a longtime.”
“But what are you going to do with your money?” asked the uncle.
“Of course,” said the boy, “I started it for mother. She said she had no luck, because father is unlucky, so I thought if I was lucky, it might stop whispering.”
“What might stop whispering?”
“Our house. I hate our house for whispering.”
“What does it whisper?”
“Why—why”—the boy fidgeted—”why, I don’t know. But it’s always short of
money, you know, uncle.”
“I know it, son, I know it.”
“You know people send mother writs, don’t you, uncle?”
“I’m afraid I do,” said the uncle.
“And then the house whispers, like people laughing at you behind your back. It’s awful, that is! I thought if I was lucky . . .”
“You might stop it,” added the uncle.
The boy watched him with big blue eyes that had an uncanny cold fire in them,
20 Turf Commission?赛马佣金。 21 cleared two thousand?赢了两千。
and he said never a word.
“Well, then!” said the uncle. “What are we doing?”
“I shouldn’t like mother to know I was lucky,” said the boy.
“Why not, son?”
“She’d stop me.”
“I don’t think she would.”
“I don’t want her to know, uncle.” “Oh!” —and the boy writhed in an odd way—
“All right, son! We’ll manage it without her knowing.”
They managed it very easily. Paul, at the other’s suggestion, handed over five thousand pounds to his uncle, who deposited it with the family lawyer, who was then to inform Paul’s mother that a relative had put five thousand pounds into his hands,
which sum was to be paid out a thousand pounds at a time, on the mother’s birthday, for the next five years.
“So she’ll have a birthday present of a thousand pounds for five successive years,” said Uncle Oscar. “I hope it won’t make it all the harder for her later.”
Paul’s mother had her birthday in November. The house had been “whispering” worse than ever lately, and, even in spite of his luck, Paul could not bear up against it.
He was very anxious to see the effect of the birthday letter, telling his mother about the thousand pounds.
When there were no visitors, Paul now took his meals with his parents, as he was beyond the nursery control. His mother went into town nearly every day. She had discovered that she had an odd knack of sketching furs and dress materials, so she worked secretly in the studio of a friend who was the chief “artist” for the leading drapers. She drew the figures of ladies in furs and ladies in silk and sequins for the newspaper advertisements. This young woman artist earned several thousand pounds a year, but Paul’s mother only made several hundreds, and she was again dissatisfied. She so wanted to be first in something, and she did not succeed, even in making sketches for drapery advertisements.
She was down to breakfast on the morning of her birthday. Paul watched her face as she read her letters. He knew the lawyer’s letter. As his mother read it, her face hardened and became more expressionless. Then a cold, determined look came on her mouth. She hid the letter under the pile of others, and said not a word about it.
“Didn’t you have anything nice in the post for your birthday, mother?” said Paul.
“Quite moderately nice,” she said, her voice cold and absent.
She went away to town without saying more.
But in the afternoon Uncle Oscar appeared. He said Paul’s mother had had a long interview with the lawyer, asking if the whole five thousand could be advanced at once, as she was in debt.
“What do you think, uncle?” said the boy.
“I leave it to you, son.”
“Oh, let her have it, then! We can get some more with the other,” said the boy.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, laddie!” said Uncle Oscar.
2223“But I’m sure to know for the Grand National; or the Lincolnshire; or else the
22 Grand National?，英国一年一度的：全国越野障碍赛马赛。
24Derby. I’m sure to know for one of them,” said Paul.
So Uncle Oscar signed the agreement, and Paul’s mother touched the whole five thousand. Then something very curious happened. The voices in the house suddenly went mad, like a chorus of frogs on a spring evening. There were certain new
25furnishings, and Paul had a tutor. He was really going to Eton, his father’s school, in
the following autumn. There were flowers in the winter, and a blossoming of the luxury Paul’s mother had been used to. And yet the voices in the house, behind the
sprays of mimosa and almond blossom, and from under the piles of iridescent cushions, simply trilled and screamed in a sort of ecstasy: “There must be more money! Oh-h-h, there must be more money. Oh, now, now-w! Now-w-w—there must
be more money—more than ever! More than ever!”
It frightened Paul terribly. He studied away at his Latin and Greek with his tutors. But his intense hours were spent with Bassett. The Grand National had gone by: he had not “known,” and had lost a hundred pounds. Summer was at hand. He was in
agony for the Lincoln. But even for the Lincoln he didn’t “know” and he lost fifty
pounds. He became wild-eyed and strange, as if something were going to explode in him.
“Let it alone, son；Don’t you bother about it!” urged Uncle Oscar. But it was as if the boy couldn’t really hear what his uncle was saying.
“I’ve got to know for the Derby! I’ve got to know for the Derby；”the child
reiterated, his big blue eyes blazing with a sort of madness.
26His mother noticed how overwrought he was.
“You’d better go to the seaside. Wouldn’t you like to go now to the seaside, instead of waiting? I think you’d better,” she said, looking down at him anxiously, her heart curiously heavy because of him.
27But the child lifted his uncanny blue eyes.
“I couldn’t possibly go before the Derby, mother” he said. “I couldn’t possibly!”
“Why not?” she said, her voice becoming heavy when she was opposed. “Why not? You can still go from the seaside to see the Derby with your Uncle Oscar, if that’s what you wish. No need for you to wait here. Besides, I think you care too much about these races. It’s a bad sign. My family has been a gambling family, and you won’t know till you grow up how much damage it has done. But it has done
damage. I shall have to send Bassett away, and ask Uncle Oscar not to talk racing to you, unless you promise to be reasonable about it; go away to the seaside and forget it.
28You’re all nerves；”
“I’ll do what you like, mother, so long as you don’t send me away till after the Derby,” the boy said.
23 Lincolnshire?林肯郡赛马会。 24 Derby?英国的大赛马会。1780年德贝伯爵所创立；每年六月的第一个星期三在London
附近的Epsom举行。参赛马龄平均为三岁；这天称为Derby Day。 25 Eton伊顿；泰晤士河边的一个市镇；位于伦敦附近的白金汉郡；伊顿公学所在地。 ?26 overwrought?过度紧张的。 27 uncanny?诡异的。 28 You’re all nerves?你太紧张了。
“Send you away from where? Just from this house?”
“Yes,” he said, gazing at her.
“Why, you curious child, what makes you care about this house so much,
suddenly? I never knew you loved it.”
He gazed at her without speaking. He had a secret within a secret, something he had not divulged, even to Bassett or to his Uncle Oscar.
But his mother, after standing undecided and a little bit sullen for some moments, said?
“Very well then! Don’t go to the seaside till after the Derby, if you don’t wish it. But promise me you won’t let our nerves go to pieces. Promise you won’t think so much about horse-racing and events, as you call them!”
“Oh, no,” said the boy casually. “I won’t think much about them, mother. You needn’t worry. I wouldn’t worry, mother, if I were you.”
“If you were me and I were you,” said his mother, “I wonder what we should
“But you know you needn’t worry, mother, don’t you?” the boy repeated.
“I should be awfully glad to know it,” she said wearily.
“Oh, well, you can, you know. I mean, you ought to know you needn’t worry,”
“Ought I? Then I’ll see about it,” she said.
Paul’s secret of secrets was his wooden horse, that which had no name. Since he
was emancipated from a nurse and a nursery-governess, he had had his rocking horse removed to his own bedroom at the top of the house.
“Surely, you’re too big for a rocking horse!” his mother had remonstrated.
“Well, you see, mother, till I can have a real horse, I like to have some sort of
animal about,” had been his quaint answer.
“Do you feel he keeps you company?” she laughed.
“Oh, yes；He’s very good, he always keeps me company, when I’m there,” said Paul.
So the horse, rather shabby, stood in an arrested prance in the boy’s bedroom.
The Derby was drawing near, and the boy grew more and more tense. He hardly heard what was spoken to him, he was very frail, and his eyes were really uncanny.
29His mother had sudden strange seizures of uneasiness about him. Sometimes, for
half-an-hour, she would feel a sudden anxiety about him that was almost anguish. She wanted to rush to him at once, and know he was safe.
Two nights before the Derby, she was at a big party in town, when one of her rushes of anxiety about her boy, her first-born, gripped her heart till she could hardly
30speak. She fought with the feeling, might and main, for she believed in common
sense. But it was too strong. She had to leave the dance and go downstairs to telephone to the country. The children’s nursery-governess was terribly surprised and
startled at being rung up in the night.
29 sudden strange seizures of uneasiness about him?突然莫名地为他不安起来。 30 might and main?竭尽全力。