Jupiter Ann by Eleanor H. Porter
It was only after serious consideration that Miss Prue had bought
the little horse, Jupiter, and then she changed the name at once. For a
respectable spinster to drive any sort of horse was bad enough in Miss
Prue's opinion; but to drive a heathen one! To replace “Jupiter” she
considered “Ann” a sensible, dignified, and proper name, and “Ann” she
named him, regardless of age, sex, or “previous condition of
servitude.” The villagers accepted the change—though with
modifications; the horse was known thereafter as “Miss Prue's Jupiter
Miss Prue had said that she wanted a safe, steady horse; one that
would not run, balk, or kick. She would not have bought any horse,
indeed, had it not been that the way to the post office, the store, the
church, and everywhere else, had grown so unaccountably long—Miss Prue
was approaching her sixtieth birthday. The horse had been hers now a
month, and thus far it had been everything that a dignified, somewhat
timid spinster could wish it to be. Fortunately—or unfortunately, as
one may choose to look at it—Miss Prue did not know that in the dim
recesses of Jupiter's memory there lurked the smell of the turf, the
feel of the jockey's coaxing touch, and the sound of a triumphant
multitude shouting his name; in Miss Prue's estimation the next deadly
sin to treason and murder was horse racing.
There was no one in the town, perhaps, who did not know of Miss
Prue's abhorrence of horse racing. On all occasions she freed her mind
concerning it; and there was a report that the only lover of her youth
had lost his suit through his passion for driving fast horses. Even the
county fair Miss Prue had refused all her life to attend—there was the
horse racing. It was because of all this that she had been so loath to
buy a horse, if only the way to everywhere had not grown so long!
For four weeks—indeed, for five—the new horse, Ann, was a
treasure; then, one day, Jupiter remembered.
Miss Prue was driving home from the post office. The wide, smooth
road led straight ahead under an arch of flaming gold and scarlet. The
October air was crisp and bracing, and unconsciously Miss Prue lifted
her chin and drew a long breath. Almost at once, however, she frowned.
From behind her had come the sound of a horse's hoofs, and reluctantly
Miss Prue pulled the right-hand rein.
Jupiter Ann quickened his gait perceptibly, and lifted his head. His
ears came erect.
“Whoa, Ann, whoa!” stammered Miss Prue nervously.
The hoof beats were almost abreast now, and hurriedly Miss Prue
turned her head. At once she gave the reins an angry jerk; in the other
light carriage sat Rupert Joyce, the young man who for weeks had been
unsuccessfully trying to find favor in her eyes because he had already
found it in the eyes of her ward and niece, Mary Belle.
“Good-morning, Miss Prue,” called a boyish voice.
“Good-morning,” snapped the woman, and jerked the reins again.
Miss Prue awoke then to the sudden realization that if the other's
speed had accelerated, so, too, had her own.
“Ann, Ann, whoa!” she commanded. Then she turned angry eyes on the
young man. “Go by—go by! Why don't you go by?” she called sharply.
In obedience, young Joyce touched the whip to his gray mare: but he
did not go by. With a curious little shake, as if casting off years of
dull propriety, Jupiter Ann thrust forward his nose and got down to
Miss Prue grew white, then red. Her hands shook on the reins.
“Ann, Ann, whoa! You mustn't—you can't! Ann, please whoa!” she
supplicated wildly. She might as well have besought the wind not to
On and on, neck and neck, the horses raced. Miss Prue's bonnet
slipped and hung rakishly above one ear. Her hair loosened and fell in
straggling wisps of gray to her shoulders. Her eyeglasses dropped from
her nose and swayed dizzily on their slender chain. Her gloves split
across the back and showed the white, tense knuckles. Her breath came
in gasps, and only a moaning “whoa—whoa” fell in jerky rhythm from her
white lips. Ashamed, frightened, and dismayed, Miss Prue clung to the
reins and kept her straining eyes on the road ahead.
On and on down the long straight road flew Jupiter Ann and the
little gray mare. At door and window of the scudding houses appeared
men and women with startled faces and upraised hands. Miss Prue knew
that they were there, and shuddered. The shame of it—she, in a
horse-race, and with Rupert Joyce! Hurriedly she threw a look at the
young man's face to catch its expression; and then she saw something
else: the little gray mare was a full half-head in the lead of Jupiter
It was then that a strange something awoke in Miss Prue—a fierce
new something that she had never felt before. Her lips set hard, and
her eyes flashed a sudden fire. Her moaning “whoa—whoa” fell silent,
and her hands loosened instinctively on the reins. She was leaning
forward now, eagerly, anxiously, her eyes on the head of the other
horse. Suddenly her tense muscles relaxed, and a look that was
perilously near to triumphant joy crossed her face—Jupiter Ann was
ahead once more!
By the time the wide sweep of the driveway leading to Miss Prue's
home was reached, there was no question of the result, and well in the
lead of the little gray mare Jupiter Ann trotted proudly up the
driveway and came to a panting stop.
Flushed, disheveled, and palpitating, Miss Prue picked her way to
the ground. Behind her Rupert Joyce was just driving into the yard. He,
too, was flushed and palpitating—though not for the same reason.
“I—I just thought I'd drive out and see Mary Belle,” he blurted out
airily, assuming a bold front to meet the wrath which he felt was sure
to come. At once, however, his jaw dropped in amazement.
“Mary Belle? I left her down in the orchard gathering apples,” Miss
Prue was saying cheerfully. “You might look for her there.” And she
smiled— the gracious smile of the victor for the vanquished.
Incredulously the youth stared; then, emboldened, he plunged on
“I say, you know, Miss Prue, that little horse of yours can run!”
Miss Prue stiffened. With a jerk she straightened her bonnet and
thrust her glasses on her nose.
“Ann has been bad—very bad,” she said severely. “We'll not talk of
it, if you please. I am ashamed of her!” And he turned haughtily away.
In the barn two minutes later, Miss Prue patted Jupiter Ann on the
neck —a thing she had never done before.
“We beat 'em, anyhow, Ann,” she whispered. “And, after all, he's a
pleasant-spoken chap, and if Mary Belle wants him—why—let's let her