‘The Rocking-Horse’ is a psychological short story which tells about how a mother’s greed to have more and more money became the cause of the death of one of her own children. The mother wanted more and more, and the son exerted all his mental power to get the names of winning horses and the mental exhaustion caused his death. Mrs. Hester was beautiful and she married for love. However she was not happy in her marriage. She had three children, a boy and two girls. She did not love the children, as she thought that they had been thrust upon her. She tried her best to hide her want of love but her children felt it. They too looked upon her coldly without love. They were poor but they lived in style to keep up the superior social position that their family held. There was a feeling of poverty always. Everything in the house seemed to whisper that there must be more money.
At last it became unbearable to Paul, her son. He learned from his mother that one could earn a lot of money if one had luck. Both his parents were unlucky with money. Suddenly something in his mind told Paul that he was very lucky. Like children in general, Paul was very imaginative. He thought his rocking horse could take him where there was luck. He talked to Bassett, their gardener and collected the names of the horses taking part in the races. He rode on his rocking horse and rocked very furiously. He asked his horse to take him where there was luck. At the end of his imaginary journey the name of the winning horse would flash into his mind. Sometimes he would be sure of the horse that would win and sometimes he was not. He betted on the horse when he was sure and won often. Bassett was his partner. He earned quite a lot of money this way up to three hundred and twenty pounds.
His uncle, Oscar Creswell was also interested in the horse race. He came to know what Paul did. He did not believe at first, but out of curiosity he also became a partner and betted some money on a horse called Daffodil. Paul had got the intuition that Daffodil was going to win. Daffodil came first and they earned quite a lot of money. Paul made a gift of five thousand pounds to his mother secretly through a lawyer. The lawyer was to give a gift of one thousand pounds to his mother on every birthday for five years and say that a rich relative had asked him to do so. Paul’s mother was not very happy at it and wanted the whole sum of five thousand pounds at a time. Paul and his uncle gave the money to her. After she got the money, the whisper in the house that there must be more and more money became fiercer and fiercer.
There was a great sense of poverty in the house which became intolerable. Paul tried very hard to know the names of the winning horses but he failed several times. Still he tried harder and harder to know the name of the winning horse for the great race, Derby. He rode very furiously on the rocking horse till the time his mother came back from a party in the town and found him rocking so. He came down at last from the horse and lay on the ground. He was unconscious with brain fever. But he shouted, as if in a delirium, the name of the horse Malabar. Bassett played a thousand pounds on Malabar in the Derby. Malabar came first and Paul got seventy thousand pounds. Mrs. Hester became richer by more than eighty thousand pounds. But Paul died in the night as he had exerted too much of his mental energies and will, and his brain fever became fatal. Paul thus died to satisfy his mother who could never be satisfied.