"The Rocking-Horse Winner" introduces us to Hester, a woman who dreams of living a luxurious lifestyle she cannot afford. She lives in a modest house with her husband and her three children, two girls and a boy. Although she and her husband never mention their financial woes, the children sense that their house and everything inside of it whisper about the need for more money. Kind of creepy, huh? Hester attempts to make money at various jobs, but she isn't very successful at any of them.
One day Hester's son Paul asks her what makes some people lucky. She tells him that people with luck are the ones who make lots of money; Paul's father is unlucky because no matter how hard he tries, he can't make enough money. This makes Paul determined to prove that he is lucky to his mother.
Paul discovers that when he rides his rocking horse long enough, he is somehow able to "know" what the winning racehorse will be. Using this knowledge, he asks Bassett, the family gardener, to help him place bets and hold onto his winnings. Eventually, Uncle Oscar discovers Paul's gambling scheme and joins in as a partner too. Paul arranges to have a lawyer send his mother five thousand pounds with the money he's won, which she promptly spends on all kinds of luxuries.
Meanwhile, unaware of her son's gambling habit, Hester grows concerned about Paul's health. She plans to send Paul to the seaside to recover, but Paul convinces her to let him stay until after the Derby Stakes race. One evening while out at a party, Hester is overcome with anxiety over Paul. When she returns home, she discovers that he is still riding his rocking horse. Paul collapses with a brain fever, but not before he utters the name of the Derby Stakes winner. Now that's what we call a dramatic finish.
With this information, Uncle Oscar and Bassett go ahead and place their bets and make off with a hefty winning when the Derby Stakes winner is announced. On hearing this news, Paul dies later that night.