There comes a certain time in the life of a stallion when he must question the wills and the while's of love. During this period of questioning and deliberating in which important decisions are made in which one may change details and aspects of his life, a stallion spends many hours over the course of many days over the time of many weeks considering all of who he is and all of what he wants the most. Over the course of this time of deliberation, a stallion is simply this: an emotional wreck.
During these times, a stallion loses all control of who he is and of his emotions. He spends many hours in constant swing of them and frequently alternates between periods of "highs" where he may be overly-confident and free of any sadness and periods of "lows" where he is then in a state of constant sadness and inexpressible grief. One hour he may feel as though he is atop of the world and then the very next he may be in such a pit of despair that he feels an utmost obligation and desire to end his life. This is the life a poor stallion who constantly questions the point of being in love. This is the life of Palmer Orchid.
Now seemingly without reason or purpose, at the first unbound crack of dawn one mid-summer day, Palmer Orchid rose from bed. It was still dark out and all the stars were shining just as bright against the dark blanket of night just as they always had and always will. Palmer Orchid removed himself from the cocoon of blankets and quilts that he had gotten himself into and turned slowly out of bed onto the wooden floor below. He crossed out over to his front door, opened it, and stepped out onto his front steps. He turned his head drowsily to the west and regarded the setting moon.
In the west, the crescent moon which so acted as his own watch and compass during his frequent midnight strolls amongst his flock of sheep was now beginning to sink slowly beneath the horizon. The night stars, that like the moon acted as his watch and compass were starting to slowly dim with the influx of morning light. Seeing the end of the night, Palmer turned his head over this time toward the east.
in the east, the sun for which Palmer Orchid so dearly loved was beginning to slowly rise. He loved the sun. The sun gave his fields and hills of grasses and flowers life, which in turn provided his flock of sheep with life and nourishment. This was all very fine with him because the more his sheep were out and about in the sun and the more grasses they ate, the more lustrous and vibrant their wool was and this was all very well for business. Another reason why he loved the sun so much was because several Hearths Warming Eve's ago, he had gone up to Canterlot to receive orders from some his higher-classed clients. While he was away on business, he had somehow gotten into some formal gathering and then from there, he had been graced by the presence of Princess Celestia herself. During that moment of grace, he had determined then that for everyday, he would love the sun so much more than he had before. Even so the sun, or rather Celestia's sun, was rising low in the early morning dawn. Palmer climbed back up the stairs and went back inside.
After Palmer Orchid had finished washing and after he had gotten ready, he crossed from his bath to his door and with a content gesture of everything, he reached up to a hook by the door and took down a formal tie and collar. It was a Sunday after all, according to the calender that restfully hung from the wall in the small kitchen. With both his collar and his tie, which were both coincidentally blue in color, snug and tight around his neck, Palmer left his cottage and headed back around to his barn. With a shrill screech and the dull thud of wood against wood, the doors were swung open and he instantly whistled for his dogs. After feeding them, Palmer took them out to the fields in which he had earlier left his sheep out to graze and he set them to work. After making sure all was as all should be, Palmer headed out to town.
The sound of packed gravel met Palmer's ears as he walked along the road. In the summer morning, the humidity of the evaporating dew caused an uncomfortable band of sweat to form on his brow as he went; he quickly swiped them away with an uncaring wave of his hoof. After several long moments of silent walking, Palmer finally marched up the steep stairs of the church and chapel.
Now being as how Klimmington was a small town of mostly other farmers and merchants, the facade and the homely nature of the place was very much in the way of appropriate. It was nothing too excitable nor was it very memorable but it is what it is nonetheless. And what it was then was a simple white-stone structure that had been built centuries ago. The main building of the chapel stood at an even twenty hooves tall and had a width of nearly double that. The spire of it rose to nearly sixty hooves above anything else. The spire, which in turn was also the bell tower, was also built out of white-stone, but unlike the smoothness of the chapel's stones, these were worn down and weathered from centuries of enduring the climate. Inside the chapel stood nearly twenty rows of benches, all brown and lacquered; quite comfortable once one had gotten used to them. Up at the front beneath a large stained-glass window depicting Princess Celestia in the process of raising the sun and lowering the moon stood a single pedestal and a small table.
Palmer Orchid took his usual spot in the far left corner furthest away from the front. He sat his haunches down on the cool wood and flinched at the sudden surprising coolness of it. As other ponies began to filter in and take their own places, Palmer rested his head against the smooth white-stone. He suddenly cursed. Earlier that morning during the sunrise and while walking here to the chapel, he was as content as he could have ever been, but now, he was in the deepest rut that he had been in since about two weeks ago. He cursed again. Was he truly not good enough? Was he not big enough? Was he not strong enough? Was he not rich enough? Had his grandfather really been as bad as Rose's Auntie had said? He wanted to believe that he was good enough for Rose and that his grandfather had been as good as he remembered him, but ever since listening to what the Auntie had had to say, he wasn't sure anymore. He used to believe that he had been good enough for her, but now as he was sitting with his head resting against the stone, he was no more than a speck of dust on the table. But even through all these feelings and troubles of heart, he still loved that fancy mare as dearly as he always had. He cursed again.
At the sudden hushing of the crowd of ponies, Palmer lifted his head from the stone and turned then to look at the large open wooden doors. What he saw then perked his head and ears higher in sudden excitement and interest; he watched as Rose walked in. As she entered, all the air seemed to stand still and all his thoughts of doubts vanished and were naught. She entered with an air of subtle superior beauty that took the air clean from the lungs of many ponies. Her long dress of lace, ribbons, and bows flowed delicately behind her as she walked and Palmer sat up higher in his chair to watch longer as she walked closer up to the front. When she sat and turned her attention to the large window, the poor herder instantly thought to himself, I will make her my wife.
It wasn't quite that hot that afternoon, but it was hot enough so that beads of sweat formed close to Palmer Orchid's brow as he walked down the road towards the hut he knew to be Rose's lodging. As he slowly walked with a new-found sense of pride, confidence, and determination, he crossed over a stone bridge that was growing moss and vines of flowers all along the sides and railing of it. The small fair stream lolled peacefully underneath. He made haste then towards the clump of trees that he knew concealed the familiar hut. He wasted no time in turning onto the path.
Before Palmer had set out on his way to seek Rose's hoof in marriage, he had subsequently sat through three hours of lecturing and sermons After the sermons had ended and everypony was free to go home of their own accord, he had stayed back so that he could watch Rose pass as she left. After she had gone, Palmer had risen from his own bench and had then returned to his cottage on the side of his steep, windy hill. There, he had made sure his dogs were doing their jobs of watching and guarding and that his flock was tended to. Then upon redoing his Sunday best, he struck down the hill again toward the road and turned left onto it. This was what bought him to the narrow path that without a doubt was the very one that he had taken many months ago.
The sound of clopping hooves against the dry, hard, summer earth caused Palmer to prick his ears towards the source of the sound. He listened on for a moment before deciding then that he had simply heard the sound of his own hooves as he walked; he resumed his steady pace down the path. He then heard the sound again and quickly spun around in his spot to see what or who it was. He heard the sudden rustling of leaves and watched as the low hedge off to his immediate right rustled and shook. Curious, he slowly trotted forward and stopped. Palmer removed his tie and collar from around his neck so that he would not get them dirty and immediately shoved his head into the depths of the bush. Thorns and the sharp ends of branches bit and stung at his neck until he was looking out on the other side. He cleared his throat.
"Hello, Rose," said Palmer Orchid as he pushed his way out through the hedge. He stopped for a moment to clean the thorns and leaves that had stuck to his outfit.
"Hello, Orchid," Rose responded, not taking a single glance in the farmer's direction.
"I've come to see you, Rose," he said quickly.
"Oh?" Rose then inquired. "What's the occasion? You just up and suddenly stop talking to me in the afternoons and then you start avoiding me as if I've got some deadly contagious disease? And now you just decide that you want to speak with me? What's your deal?"
"Well that's just cause I've been doing some long, hard thinking about some things."
"And your thinking has prevented you from speaking with me?"
"I'm not buying it. You can't just stop talking to somepony just because you're doing some thinking. It's ridiculous."
Palmer kicked slowly at the dirt, obviously at a loss for words; all senses of doubt washing back over him in a single instant. He gulped heavily before raising his head to meet her gaze. "Well you see . . . I've been doing some heavy thinking and so I'm here now to seek your hoof in marriage."
Now it was Rose's turn to be at a loss for words. "Orchid -"
"Now I know I'm not the best stallion," Palmer was quick to say, cutting her off. "I haven't gotten much of anything to put onto my good name except for my fields and my sheep but I can promise you that I'll be a good husband and a good stallion to you that would try to get you anything you ever wanted."
"Well now that sounds all fine -"
"And then after a while after we're married and all and I've gotten the money, we could find a larger cottage someplace where you wouldn't have to smell the sheep all the time."
"And that's all very well -"
"And then I could buy you all the dresses you could ever want. You would love that, wouldn't you, Rose?"
"I surely would but -"
"And then after a while and we've moved to the larger cottage, we could have our own -"
"PALMER ORCHID!" Rose suddenly cried, cutting the rambling shepherd off mid-sentence.
"Yes, Rose?" he silently asked, returning to kick at the ground in an unsure manner.
"Palmer Orchid, while I am flattered that you would ever seek my hoof in marriage . . . I cannot marry you."
"Why not? Surely I'm good enough?"
"Yes Orchid, you are good in your own right of it, but I will not marry you."
"Because I am not looking for a husband."
"But then what was all that early when you were spouting out stuff about it being fine and everything then that you had said?"
"I was trying to speak out but you kept cutting me across . . . "
Palmer kicked the ground and hung his head, his mane falling in sheets in front of his eyes. He brushed it away. "So you won't marry me?"
"Not now; not ever."
"Because I am not looking to marry."
"Because I want to be tamed and put in my place as a mare and you certainly aren't the one to do it."
Palmer hung his head lower at this last statement which was obviously an insult to him and deeply sighed. All those doubts were seemingly true. "Why?" he sadly asked, fearing the response.
"Palmer Orchid! You ask me why but I do not know the answer to it! I cannot know why a lady's heart is as the way it is nor can I ever know why you are not the one to marry me! Now please, your constant asking me why is heavy on me! Please! Stop asking me why it is and just accept that I will not marry you!"
"It's because you're vain, isn't it?" Palmer asked before he could stop himself.
"Vain? Is that what you think of me?"
"I didn't mean it that -"
"That way? How other way could you have meant it by calling me 'vain'?"
"Palmer Orchid, if there was any slight chance at all of me marrying you, it is gone now."
"So you will never marry me?"
"Then I will never ask it of you again," Palmer sadly said then after an uncomfortable moment of silence. His voice shook and whether it be by the heat of the day or the fact that he had struck out, he felt faint. He steadied himself on the side of a tree and sighed, his heart pumping a mile a minute.
"Good then. Good bye, Orchid."
With that said and nothing else added onto it, Rose departed back through the hedge and out back onto the main path. Palmer heard the sudden clopping of hooves against earth and he knew then that she was gone. With a sorrowful angry sigh, Palmer cursed loudly and swung a rude kick towards a tree. When his hoof made contact with the hard, roughened bark, he stumbled back off his footing and rolled a far ways down the slight embankment. He cursed heavily before leaving and returning to his lonesome flock.