The Horse-Dealer's Daughter Summary

The Horse-Dealer's Daughter Summary

Mabel Pervin is 27 years old and unmarried. Her father made a living dealing horses, but shortly before his death the business started taking a dive. Upon his demise, Mabel and her three brothers—Joe, Fred Henry and Malcolm—learned that their family was, actually, in quite deep debt. So deep was the debt that Oldmeadow, the family’s home, had to be put on the market.

The four siblings and the horses were likewise expected to leave. While the horses are in the process of forced vacation from the premises, Fred Henry suggests that Mabel should move in with another sibling, their sister Lucy. Joe advises Mabel on the wisdom of seeking employment in the servant industry. Mabel grows increasingly more despondent as the brothers discuss their futures. Eventually, the despondency manages to turn into an utter lack of interest in the conversation.

Mabel begins to clear the dining table when Dr. Jack Ferguson shows up. She lets him know that she is most assuredly not going to impose upon Lucy and Fred Henry makes it known that he will meet up with Jack later at a local pub.

While horse-dealing was never a particularly profitable business and while life amongst her brothers was typically one lacking refinement, at least there was always enough money to maintain food and shelter. The lapse into poverty has convinced Mabel of just how much she actually has been suffering from a rather demeaning and pointless life. A visit to the graveyard to arrange the flowers around her mother’s headstone is briefly interrupted by eye contact with Jack Ferguson making out for his rounds.

Late that afternoon, Jack’s round are done and he’s walking home by way of the Oldmeadow. Mabel is heading in the direction of the pond and stares as she enters into the water, which at this time of year is beyond chilly and well into frigid. He quickly runs to pull her out amid suspicion of an ignoble motive. She is breathing, but unconscious when he finally gets her out of the pond. After carrying her back to the house, he takes off her soaking clothes and wraps her in blankets in front of the fire in an attempt to get warmth back into her blood.

Upon arousing back to consciousness and learning what happened, she starts to pepper Jack about his motives for saving her. Jack himself has been suffering from a lingering cold and would like nothing better than change into something warm, but can find no reasonable point at which to take his leave of Mabel. Only then does Mabel realize that she has been undressed and upon learning that it was, indeed, Jack who disrobed her, she makes an inquiry: is he in love with her?

As Mabel reaches out and puts her arms tightly around Jack, Jack ruminates over a definitely awkward element: he does not love and has never had any desire to love her. Only after Mabel keeps pressing upon her own insistence that he does love her—that he must love her—does Jack come around to the conclusion that she must be right. She is right. Yes, he does Mabel. And what’s more, he tells Mabel that he loves her. They kiss, with great passion.

At the break of their embrace, Mabel rushes upstairs to find Jack suitably dry clothing. When he is in the suitably dry clothing, Mabel shows up wearing her finest dress. Mabel begins to insist to Jack that she is an awful match for her and there is no way he could actually want to love her, he quiets her by insisting that not only does he want to love her, he does love and wants to marry her.

Tomorrow, if possible.

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