The Horse Dealer's Daughter
by D H Lawrence (1922)
'Well, Mabel, and what are you going to do with yourself ?' asked Joe, with foolish flippancy. He felt quite safe
himself. Without listening for an answer, he turned aside, worked a grain of tobacco to the tip of his tongue, and
spat it out. He did not care about anything, since he felt safe himself.
The three brothers and the sister sat round the desolate breakfast-table, attempting some sort of desultory
consultation. The morning's post had given the final tap to the family fortunes, and all was over. The dreary dining-
room itself, with its heavy mahogany furniture, looked as if it were waiting to be done away with.
But the consultation amounted to nothing. There was a strange air of ineffectuality about the three men, as they
sprawled at table, smoking and reflecting vaguely on their own condition. The girl was alone, a rather short, sullen-
looking young woman of twenty-seven. She did not share the same life as her brothers. She would have been good-
looking, save for the impressive fixity of her face, 'bull-dog', as her brothers called it.
There was a confused tramping of horses' feet outside. The three men all sprawled round in their chairs to
watch. Beyond the dark holly bushes that separated the strip of lawn from the high-road, they could see a cavalcade
of shire horses swinging out of their own yard, being taken for exercise. This was the last time. These were the last
horses that would go through their hands. The young men watched with critical, callous look. They were all
frightened at the collapse of their lives, and the sense of disaster in which they were involved left them no inner
Yet they were three fine, well-set fellows enough. Joe, the eldest, was a man of thirty-five, broad and
handsome in a hot flushed way. His face was red, he twisted his black moustache over a thick finger, his eyes were
shallow and restless. HE had a sensual way of uncovering his teeth when he laughed, and his bearing was stupid.
Now he watched the horses with a glazed look of helplessness in his eyes, a certain stupor of downfall.
The great drought-horses swung past. They were tied head to tail, four of them, and they heaved along to
where a lane branched off from the high-road, planting their great roofs flouting in the fine black mud, swinging
their great rounded haunches sumptously, and trotting a few sudden steps as they were led into the lane, round the
corner. Every movement showed a massive, slumbrous strength, and a stupidity which held them in subjection. The
groom at the head looked back, jerking the leading rope. And the cavalcade moved out of sight up the lane, the tail
of the last horse, bobbed up tight and stiff, held out taut from the swinging great haunches as they rocked behind the
hedges in a motion-like sleep.
Joe watched with glazed hopeless eyes. The horses were almost like his own body to him. He felt he was done