• Published 14th Jul 2013
  • 1,847 Views, 92 Comments

Song of Silver - GrassAndClouds2



Silver Spoon, desperate to avoid losing to Sweetie Belle, resolves to become a musical prodigy. Hijinks ensue.

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Silver Spoon Versus the Piano

"Silver Spoon!"

Silver Spoon rolled over. She had retreated to a quiet park bench to think of who to ask next, and had been hoping that nopony would bother her. Unfortunately, such was not to be the case. "What?"

It was Diamond Tiara that was approaching her. Silver Spoon liked Diamond Tiara, as they had similar tastes in fashion and playtime activities, and they also were two of the earliest in their class to get cutie marks. They also came from similar social strata, as Filthy Rich was the second richest pony in town, only after Sterling Silver. That allowed them to enjoy various cultural activities that, Silver Spoon knew, the other foals in town simply didn't have the ability to get. Granted, Diamond could be a little vain, and she probably wasn't as smart as she thought she was, but she was still a good friend to have. Silver Spoon had even thrown herself around Diamond Tiara in a big hug after the tyrant alicorns had been defeated at the equinox... though she would never admit that to another living pony.

The other foal scurried over to Silver Spoon, her face a blinding smile. "Look at what Daddy got me!" She tilted her head to reveal two shining sapphire earrings, each one looking like it would cost no less than three hundred bits. "He said it was because I did so well on that math test last week!"

Silver Spoon knew for a fact that Diamond Tiara had scraped a 'B' on that test, while Silver Spoon, as usual, had gotten an 'A.' Still, the earrings did look nice on her, and a 'B' was fine for other foals. "Congratulations!" said Silver Spoon. "They look really nice."

"I know!" Diamond Tiara bounced up onto the bench. "You should get your sparkly pearl necklace, and we should show off at Tootsie's cutecenara!" She grinned. "I bet every foal in town's going to be there. A great chance to show them just what we're made of."

"Oh, right. The cutecenara." Silver Spoon tried to work up some fake cheer. "Yeah, that'll be a lot of fun."

"I heard that Sweetie Belle's going to try singing." Diamond Tiara snickered. "She's not even good at anything yet, since she doesn't have her mark... she's going to be a total disaster." Diamond Tiara grinned. "We should make sure to get front row seats, so we can yell that blank-flank off the stage."

"Yeah... good idea." Silver Spoon rolled over again. "You're right. She's probably a terrible singer."

"She just thinks she can sing because her sister's got that delusion that she can somehow work her way into high society." Diamond Tiara reared back on her hooes and did her best impression of Rarity's voice. "Oh, yes, all my clothes are honest haute couture and none of that pret-a-porter stuff. What do you take me for, a commoner with delusions of grandeur? Now, let's all go to the opera where we'll watch some show I don't understand and drink wines that I can't tell apart. Oh, won't you please let me into all your little high society clubs yet? No? What if I adopt zees outrageous Prench accent?"

Silver Spoon laughed. "She's not even that good of a designer. I mean, she's creative, but her dresses are so showy and glitzy. Sometimes less is more. I bet if she had to design a plain, simple dress, she'd probably pop."

After a few minutes, the foals stopped laughing. Diamond Tiara said, "But enough about those idiots. Let's do something!" The foal grinned. "My daddy bought me a rail pass too. Let's go into Canterlot and go shopping!"

"Who would take us?"

"My new maid. She's a bit whiny, but I'll train her up soon enough." Diamond Tiara chuckled. "Anyways, I want to look at that fashion show. I need some clothes to go with these sapphires. You game?"

Silver Spoon shook her head. The mention of a show had brought her problem back to the forefront of her mind. "I'm busy today," she said. "You go ahead."

"You sure?" Diamond Tiara frowned. "Is something wrong?"

There was, but Silver Spoon would never admit it to any of the other ponies in town. "No," she said. "I've just got some stuff to do. For Daddy's business... you know. Grown-up stuff."

"Blech." Diamond Tiara stuck her tongue out. "Sorry. Can't you just pay somepony to do it for you? That's what I do when Daddy insists on giving me chores."

"Nah, my Daddy doesn't like that." Filthy Rich didn't like it either, but Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon knew, was usually clever enough to sneak Truffle Shuffle or Dinky or some other foal into the house to do her chores for her without her father being the wiser. Silver Spoon, though, wouldn't take part in such actions. They were low, and unbefitting of a foal of her capabilities and stature. "You have fun, though."

"Okay. See you later, then." Diamond Tiara waved, then ran off.

Silver Spoon lay still for another few moments, then rolled off the bench and got to her hooves. It was already past noon; she simply didn't have time to waste anymore. Now that she knew Diamond Tiara would be at the cutecenara, it was all the more important that Sweetie Belle's performance not be unchallenged. Silver Spoon would need to take her on and win. And now she had an idea how.

Before, I just wanted to find a teacher who would make me good on some instrument. But the teachers in this town suck. What I need now is an instrument that I can make myself into a virtuoso on. She nodded. I heard that Medley has instruments that practically play themselves. I'll just get the best one of those and use it to sound wounderful! Medley's poor, so I should be able to just buy the best instrument she has in stock -- she won't ask questions. Then I'll get it going and play it right after Sweetie. That'll show her!

She hurried off in the direction of Medley's Music Emporium.

***

Medley seemed strangely skeptical. "I'm... not quite sure what you're looking for," she told Silver Spoon. "Do you want something that you will play, or do you want a self-playing instrument?"

"I want your best instrument," said Silver Spoon. She trotted through the showroom, casting a critical eye over the various wares. They all seemed to be high quality, in contrast to the shop, which was almost crumbling -- even the ceiling fan overhead creaked ominously. Still, the instruments were what mattered. Any of these might do, but I want the very best. "My Daddy can pay whatever you ask, so don't worry about that. Just find the best--"

"It's not about the price," said Medley, looking mildly annoyed. "If I'm going to sell you an instrument, I want to make sure it's the right one for you." She flapped her wings. "I take customer satisfaction very seriously."

Silver Spoon struggled not to roll her eyes. Her, too? Good grief. Well, if I say I want to buy something, I don't think she's going to refuse to sell it to me. "Well, I'll look around and ask you if I need help," she said. And then, before Medley could respond, she darted behind the shelves and was lost to the proprietor's sight.

It was interesting, the foal thought, looking at all the different kinds of instruments. From the simple recorder to the massive, and massively complicated, grand piano, Medley's shop had something for everypony. Silver Spoon smiled as she looked among all her choices. Which would be best? I need sometihng that I can learn with a bit of effort, but it should also be able to play something really great, and...

Her gaze was drawn to a large box on one side of the room. It was labeled with a price tag of one hundred and forty bits, but there was no other indication of what the box's contents actually were. Judging from the box's size, the instrument was fairly large and bulky, but that was as far as Silver Spoon could get. "Hmm..."

"Oh, that one isn't for sale yet." Medley flew over. "I haven't got it set up yet. I only just built it."

"Built?"

Medley nodded. "I craft instruments that are played by wind and water, and I just started selling a few of those." She nodded at some windchimes that were set up around the room and were making sweet, soft tones in the gentle breeze of the ceiling fan. "The other Bearers recommended it... anyways, that one's a new design. I built it downstairs, but I'm not ready to sell it yet."

"Why not?"

"I had to take it apart to get it up here, and I need to put it back together to show customers. I can't sell somepony an instrument sight-unseen."

Silver Spoon smiled to herself. New design? Nopony knows what it sounds like? Good. Sweetie'll never expect this. "I've heard such good things about your crafted instruments, though," said the foal. "Especially your aeolian harp. I was by the park that day when you set it up there, and I just listened to it for over an hour. Your instruments are really nice."

Medley blushed. "Thank you."

"I bet this one'll be even better than all the others. It's your best instrument yet, right?"

"Well, personally, I prefer my aeolian harp, but... in a certain sense, yes. It can produce more tones with more shading than the harp can."

"I'll take that one, then," said Silver Spoon.

"You don't know what it sounds like--"

"I know it sounds beautiful, because all your instruments do," the foal flattered. "And I'd really like to try this one right away." She put on her best pleading face. "You wouldn't want to force me to wait until it got all set up again, would you?"

"Er..."

Silver Spoon took her money out of her saddlebag. She noticed Medley's gaze flickering over to it for the barest of moments. "I can pay right now," she informed the pegasus. "As long as you assure me it sounds beautiful -- that's all I need to know." She beamed.

"But..." Medley shut her eyes for a moment. "I don't have time to set it up today. I have to watch my shop, and then I have a meeting with Lyra, Lily, Rose, and Daisy. We're trying to make an instrument that can be played by sunlight and... anyway. I won't be able to set this up for a couple of days. You won't be able to use the instrument without assembly--"

"Can I do it?"

"I can write down instructions, but it might be difficult." Medley hesitated. "It wouldn't be right if I sold you something you couldn't use. If you'll just wait--"

Maybe for others. Not for me! "No, that's fine," said Silver Spoon. "Assembling it should give me a closer connection with the instrument anyway." She put the bits on the counter. "Just send that on over to Mr. Sterling Silver, 11 Main Street. I'll get it put together right away. Thank you!"

Before Medley could say anything else, Silver Spoon was out the door. She waited until she was a suitable distance from Medley's shop, then let out a joyous laugh and began to run back home.

Her problem was finally solved. Medley would send over the instrument, and all Silver Spoon had to do was put it together. Then she just needed to turn it on or whatever, and it would play something so beautiful that Sweetie Belle would be blown away. Silver Spoon would definitely be the best musical foal in town. The world would be set right.

With another laugh, Silver Spoon changed courses to head for the post office. Maybe she could browbeat or bribe some of the mailmares into making sure her instrument reached her home as quickly as possible. The sooner it arrived, the sooner Silver Spoon could assemble it, and the sooner everything would be ok.

***

Silver Spoon, upon returning home, whiled away half an hour reading a book until Medley's package arrived. She then gave strict orders to Buttle and the other household servants that she was not to be disturbed for anything short of a catastrophe, such as some other foal in town turning up with an outfit that was better than hers. She then followed the package into the living room and shut all the doors. It was time to get to work.

Her father had a tool chest which Silver Spoon was reasonably conversant with; as with everything else, she had wanted to ensure that she was better at using a hammer and chisel than any other foal in town. Silver Spoon took the hammer now, and holding it carefully in hooves and mouth, managed to pry the box open. The four sides came down, and Silver Spoon was able to look at the parts.

There were a lot of parts.

For a moment, the foal felt a tinge of fear -- but only for a moment. Then she nodded sharply. She could build this instrument. She was exceptional, after all. She had great potential; that was what her father, and Miss Cheerilee, and every other adult worth considering said. Would a foal with great potential give up just because the instrument before that foal had twenty-five or so parts? No. That foal would build the instrument and be done with it, and Silver Spoon was resolved to do just that.

True to her word, Medley had included four sheets of parchment -- complete with illustrations -- indicating how the instrument was to be assembled. Silver Spoon looked at the first few lines and made sure she had all the required tools. Then, with a grunt of effort as she hauled the first piece into its proper position, she got to work. The second piece was moved over to its right spot, then connected to the first one by means of a clever interlocking screw mechanism. Silver Spoon smiled as she put the screwdriver down. That wasn't so hard. Only two dozen more parts to go.

With that thought, she got back to work.

***

Building the instrument took several hours.

Irritatingly, she wasn't able to remain completely free of distractions while she worked, much as she tried. The servants came in a couple of times, having apparently forgotten her injunction to remain free of the room. Her father had also come in, watching her for a bit and making some encouraging noises as she wrestled another piece of the instrument into position. And then there had been dinner. Sterling Silver had been quite adamant that his daughter was to eat something, even though Silver Spoon wanted nothing more than to keep working on the machine. She was almost done, after all, and she wasn't the kind of pony who needed to stop to have cookies and juice every couple of hours, unlike a certain hyperactive orange-and-purple pegasus foal that she could name. But her father had been insistant, and that had cost her another hour.

Still, though, she did finish at last.

It was dark out, and Silver Spoon smiled out the large Prench windows as she looked at the moon and stars. It felt good, she thought. She had built the instrument. She had done what the others couldn't. And now all she had to do was get it to the cutecenara, and all would be well. She could play it, and...

She paused.

Would the instrument fit through the door?

The device itself consisted of a large set of metal bars, each tuned to a specific pitch like a xylophone. The bars were fixed fast to a frame and covered by a wooden board, which would vibrate when the bars were struck and amplify the sound. Beneath the bars were several mounted mallets, each one connected to a small water wheel. The entire thing was longer than a full-grown pony lying prone. It would be challenging to move.

Silver Spoon shook her head. That shouldn't matter; the instrument was long, but relatively narrow, and if she had a couple servants help her she should be able to get it pointed through the door and then out of the house. If nothing else, it could go out the window and then around and through the back gate. That wouldn't be a problem. She was fine there.

Silver Spoon laughed at that. To think I was almost defeated by such a silly concern. Of course I can move the thing. After all this, how could I not? She grinned, slapping the instrument lightly. "You won't beat me," she told it. "Not like that."

All that remained, then, was figuring out how to play it. Silver Spoon looked back in the instructions, eyes flicking down to the final paragraph. "Let's see... place instrument in river, preferably where there are strong currents or tides." She blinked. "Wait, what?"

Looking at the instrument again, she realized how it was supposed to work. The device was mounted in a stream, suspended above the riverbed at a narrow point. The water would flow through the water wheels and spin them, which moved the mallets to knock into the various metal bars. The bars would vibrate, the frame would vibrate as well, and tones would be produced. All well and good. Except--

"Wait. Tootsie Flute's cutecenara is going to be inside." Silver Spoon blinked. "There won't be a river there."

She was silent for a moment. Then she let out a little cry of rage. "Fine! I'll just spin the wheels myself!" She pushed at one... and strained against it futilely. It would not budge. Now that it was connected to a heavy mallet, it could not be moved by a little foal pushing on it. Only a strong river current could move the wheel enough to bring the mallet to the bars.

"No!" Silver Spoon yelled as she began slamming her hooves at the water wheels. The instrument still refused to play. "No! No! No! I have to play this! I spent all day building it! I can't have nothing to show for it!"

The instrument remained placidly useless.

A door to the study opened, and Betty Buttle poked her head in. "Does the Young Mistress desire something?"

Silver Spoon bit back a sharp remark. "No, nothing new. Please leave me alone in this room."

Betty hesitated, but withdrew.

Silver Spoon turned back to the instrument and glared at it with fire in her eyes. "You stupid! Broken! Piece of junk!" she thundered. "Work!"

It did not work.

"FINE!" Silver Spoon turned away from the instrument and sprang at the grand piano. "Fine! I don't need Medley! Or Vinyl or Octavia or anypony! I'll do this all MYSELF!" She grabbed some sheet music at random. "I'll learn it myself! I'll play piano, and I'll show Sweetie Belle!" She thumped her first note. "Nothing is going to stop me!"

***

Early next morning, Betty Buttle went downstairs to fix herself some breakfast. She liked the weekend mornings, finding them a peaceful break from the usual hubbub of her life. Granted, she cared dearly for Silver Spoon, as she was able to well identify with the foal's zeal to excel in all sorts of things -- she had been very similar, when she was young. But it was nice sometimes to be able to fix a plate of eggs and hash browns, prepare a cup of tea, and consume them without needing to worry about the Young Mistress getting ready for a play date.

As it happened, though, she was interrupted from her reverie by muffled complaints coming from the study. Betty frowned. She knew she had sent Silver Spoon to bed the previous night. Had the foal snuck out and spent the night downstairs? That wasn't usually like her; she generally obeyed her father's commands. Confused, Betty went to the study and opened the door. The room seemed deserted.

Then the piano lid cracked open a bit.

Betty hurried over and lifted the lid. Silver Spoon was inside, tangled up and held fast by the piano strings. She looked as if she'd tried to get into a fight with the piano and somehow lost. Betty could only stare.

Silver stared up at her with bleary, sleep-deprived eyes. She looked like she had been struggling all night. "I hate music," she managed, and then slumped down in defeat.