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A Horse Is A Horse... ?

I had a dream
Which was not all
A dream.
Lord Byron

Click to enlargeAraby shared both his strong back and
his good horse sense with Patrick.

Horse sense, n.:  Stable thinking

During the first dark weeks of Professor Thornhart’s sojourn in Llanview, he took a job as a stableboy at the country club, where he shared quarters with the one creature in town who had no evil designs on or convoluted feelings towards him - Blair’s horse, Araby. Araby was a silent witness to some of Patrick’s most agonizing rejections by Marty and most blatant manipulations by Blair. But did Araby always remain silent?

To this day, the Professor is not sure whether he stumbled into the off-schedule old legend that animals are granted the power to speak for an hour at midnight on Christmas eve or whether he was simply experiencing the effects of too much Irish Whiskey. But whichever it was, he could have sworn that Araby spoke to him one night…in the cultured, rather world-weary tones of Ronald Colman.

He remembers the incredible encounter this way….

(Scene: In the stables, late at night. Patrick is lying in bed, hands behind his head, looking up at the ceiling, thinking of Marty, in the depths of despair despite the bottle of Irish whiskey he has just polished off. Suddenly he hears a voice.)

Voice: (clearing throat sound) Ahem…Patrick. Are you awake?

Patrick: (sitting bolt upright) What the-- who the bloody hell is there?

Voice: Patrick, it’s me—Araby.

Patrick: (picking up empty bottle of Irish whiskey lying on the bed next to him) Bloody hell! It’s never done THAT to me before!

Araby: No, Patrick, it’s really me—I can talk.

(Patrick stumbles out of bed as quickly as his inebriated state will allow and hurries around to Araby’s stall. Araby observes Patrick’s state with wise brown eyes.)

Patrick: I don’t believe this! You didn’t talk! And what am I doin’ talkin’ to a bloody horse!

Araby: (nodding) Yes, I did, Patrick.

Patrick: (collapsing suddenly on a bail of hay and holding his head in his hands) Oh…my head…It’s bad enough I have Blair telling me what to do, now I’ve got a HORSE talkin’ to me. I’m dreaming, I must be.

Araby: Patrick! You aren’t dreaming, I can speak. And I haven’t that much time, so please listen to me.

Click to enlargeWise Araby was on to Blair Manning, even when
she was able to bamboozle Patrick.

Patrick: (looking up wonderingly) So you can talk…I never thought, I mean—why? How? Wait a minute! (looks around) Bo! If he thinks this is funny---

Araby: (impatiently) Patrick, please, you’re wasting time and I have something to say to you.

Patrick: Well, if I’m dreaming, I’ll wake up soon. So tell me, Araby…God, I can’t believe I’m going along with this….tell me, Araby, how is it you can talk?

Araby: (sighing) That isn’t important, Patrick, but if you must know, I have been observing you for a while now. Not many horses share their living quarters with a human, and since I’ve come to feel a kinship with you I requested Pegasus to let me have my hour of speech tonight.

Patrick: (startled) There is a Pegasus? Uh, what kind of kinship?

Araby: The kinship of one downtrodden creature to another, Patrick. Such a kind, compassionate human as you shouldn’t have to endure the abuse I watch you laboring under without self-pity or complaint. And I…well, you know who owns me. A woman who said I meant the world to her when I was given to her as a gift, but who now ignores my existence unless she can use me to get to you.

Patrick: Blair? The woman is a user, I know that. But she distracts me, and my life is in shambles, y’know, and….ah, ever since Margaret told me it was over I just haven’t known where to turn—

Araby: I know, Patrick. I’ve only seen Margaret a few times but I know she is the right woman for you. Why, one time when she thought she was alone here I saw her go open your closet and touch your clothes – she even read a poem out of one of your books. Animals understand love better than you humans realize, and I knew then that she loved you. But I don’t understand why I had to take you to her wedding to another man, why you aren’t with her when she loves you. Does it have anything to do with my owner?

Click to enlargeBut if Araby ever wished that he had an eject button,
he kept that wish to himself.

Patrick: Not really, Araby…it must be our fate. I don’t understand, y’know, I thought for a long time Margaret didn’t love me, then I found out she did but her husband got hurt and…(Sighs) I think I was better off before. But you, there aren’t any other horses in this barn, so how do you know what it’s like?

Araby: (blowing through his nose forlornly) Well, I don’t know that kind of love, that is true. After all, I’m a gelding, you know. (Patrick cringes.) But we horses don’t have much to do except stand around and we absorb these things, Patrick. If you think it’s hard to be a human, try being a horse.

Patrick: (quickly) No thanks! Ummm, I’m sorry, Araby, I mean I wish I had paid more attention to you. I think of you as always just being there, y’know and sometimes kind of wishin’ I could have such a peaceful life.

Araby: That’s why I wanted to talk to you, Patrick….I can tell that you feel things more deeply than the average human. We horses have been your beasts of burden since the beginning of time, and we’ve seen it all. But you take care of me every day, you exercise me and curry me and feed me no matter how badly you feel. I’ve grown rather fond of you and I knew you needed someone to talk to tonight. Just be patient, Patrick. That’s all I really wanted to tell you.

Patrick: But I’ve been patient! And she can’t be with me anyway!

Araby: I know it looks that way now. But you have so much to offer. One night I heard you reading a poem about a race in Galway by that poet you like—Oats, no, Yeats—and I remembered a line in it that went "And we find hearteners among men/That ride upon horses." That’s you, Patrick.

Patrick: (standing up, going to Araby) Ah, Araby, don’t quote Yeats at me! I want you to tell me –

(Suddenly, Patrick and Araby hear the church bell at St. James chiming the hour. Araby shakes his head, snorts, and moves his withers in a shrugging gesture.)

Patrick: Araby—don’t stop now—oh, what the hell am I saying, was I really talking to a horse? Well, what if I was, I think you’re the only one around here who really gives a damn about me, even if you are a horse. (sighs) G’night and I’ll remember this.

As Patrick goes back to bed, Araby’s glistening eyes follow him.