(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The story begins some time after an unspecified tragedy has befallen the protagonist, Mrs. McNair, and it is a wonder that she has not gone mad. Nevertheless, Mrs. McNair is portrayed as a happy woman, one who embodies the qualities desired in a young wife. She is neat and cheerful, well dressed, and polite. She returns her library books on time and politely agrees with others’ political opinions, even though she has experienced a terrible, freakish thing.

Mrs. McNair, whose husband remains in the city during weekdays and is little more than a visitor on weekends, lives in a seventeenth century Dutch farmhouse that is apparently situated along the lower Hudson River in New York State. There, with her stallion and her large silver dog, Blue Boy, she exists in a peaceful but somewhat mystical, weekday world, in which she spends numerous hours reading about the supernatural and riding her horse. Science fiction, ghost stories, and parapsychology particularly appeal to her because she experienced her unexplained tragedy.

Through the eyes of her neighbor, Mr. DePuy, Mrs. McNair is observed on one of her early morning gallops on her stallion. Perceiving her as reckless and arrogant, Mr. DePuy, an otherwise kind and decent man, discovers himself wishing for her to fall. Her wantonness distresses him. Mrs. DePuy, however, more charitably recognizes the tragedy underlying Mrs. McNair’s recklessness. She has nothing to fear anymore, thinks Mrs. DePuy, who simultaneously pities and envies her.

Although there are several allusions to her...

(The entire section is 639 words.)