Summary and Analysis: "Spotted Horses"
It takes all day to sell the horses, most of which go for three or four dollars, less than the five dollars that Henry paid for his. After the auction, Henry is impatient to get his horse, and when the Texan refuses to help him catch it, Henry orders Mrs. Armstid, who has been sitting in their wagon, to bring the plowline rope. Ratliff describes Mrs. Armstid as "not looking at nothing, ever since this morning." She is a defeated woman; all financial security for her family seems lost because of her husband's arrogant stupidity.
The Texan tries to prevent Mrs. Armstid from going inside the corral, but she obeys her husband. Twice Henry blames her for letting the horse escape, and twice he hits her with the rope. Before he can hit her a third time, the Texan interferes, stopping Henry's sadistic beating. He leads Henry out of the lot and gives back the five dollars to Mrs. Armstid. Infuriated, Henry demands his horse. He grabs the five dollars from Mrs. Armstid and gives it to Flem, who has finally turned up at the auction. The Texan tells Mrs. Armstid that she can get her money from Flem. This action sets up the final encounter between Mrs. Armstid and Flem, an encounter we know will be doomed to failure for Mrs. Armstid.