The Freedom of the Individual

Secret admiration for Pearl, the big grey mare owned by Hughie Paterson of Seamuir – Voiced by Janet, 1947

(Extracted from My Friends the Miss Boyds by Jane Duncan)


Pearl had been bought “for half-nothing” as Tom put it, because she had been badly broken to harness and was not “guaranteed for work”. She was a handsome animal but a character to be reckoned with. Pearl was in no way vicious – she never thought of rearing, kicking, bolting or biting. No. When it came into Pearl’s head that she had had enough of work for the present she simply refused to move. All those men who prided themselves on their horsemanship tried all their tricks on Pearl. They would cajole and flatter her and the hatful of oats would be held a foot from her nose. Pearl would not move. Eventually in the middle of some man’s speech to her, she would give him a scornful, disgusted look and march away with her load, leaving him looking a fool for she made it obvious to all that she had moved merely because she felt like it and not because of anything that had been said to her.

In a contrary sort of way, all of us, who were so proud of our intelligent, hard-working, “guaranteed” horses, had a special pride in Pearl. She was a symbol of the freedom of the individual to entertain his own views and indulge his own whims. She was not mischievous like our big mare from Reachfar. Pearl lived unto herself and would pull a load to oblige when she felt like it, but when she did not feel like it, no power in heaven or on earth would make her do it. Secretly everyone admired her for her stolid independence of spirit, although at times, it could be the limit of exasperation for everyone involved.

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