• Published 6th Apr 2012
  • 3,125 Views, 52 Comments

The Rummy Business of Old Blooey - Cloud Wander



What ho! Big doin's on the night of the Grand Galloping Gala!

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I Say, Cheese

“I say, Cheese,” I said, to Cheese.

“Yes, sir?” replied Cheese, materializing beside me.

“Have you seen my new vest about? The colorful plaid one with the bold green stripe?”

“I observed such a garment a short while ago, sir. I had assumed that it had been left behind accidentally by a troupe of traveling minstrels.”

“Oh no, Cheese, that was mine.”

“Indeed, sir?”

This is one of my issues with Cheese. Don’t get me wrong. In most ways, Roquefort Cheese is a most excellent valet. Many a morn, when I was a bit lathered after a long night’s gallivantin’, it has been Cheese that tucked me safely into my stable. Stable, indeed, is the word for old Cheese. He is my rock, my fortress. (That’s a bit of a play on Roquefort, don’t you know? Ha ha! The benefits of a classical education!)

But, dash it all, he has a way of saying indeed, sir? that contains subtle colorations of shyeah, right! And, really, is that any way for a servant to address his master? No! This, I decided, shall not stand.

“Yes, most certainly indeed, Cheese! Why, I’ll have you know I purchased that fashionable item just last night whilst trolling the Garment District! I saw it in the shop window and it practically shouted out at me.”

“It did appear to be highly audible, sir.”

“It shouts, ‘Huzzah! Behold, Equestria! Barnyard Marengo Trotter is here!’”

“It provides a useful advance warning, sir.”

I rattled this around the old cauliflower and judged it a compliment. “Exactly, Cheese. It is my intention to wear my new vest this evening to the Grand Galloping Gala!”

“I see, sir,” said Cheese, in a tone that implied the question, Will sir also be requiring his banjo?

“Please bring forth my vest from wherever you’ve hidden it, Cheese,” I directed. “And, no, I shall not require my banjo!”

“Sir?” asked Cheese, all innocence and light.

“You heard me,” I said, fixing him with a steely glint.

“Yes, sir,” said Cheese, shimmering away.

I didn’t like putting my hoof down with Cheese, but a master has an obligation to be firm. Noblesse oblige, laissez-faire, and so on and etcetera. In the end, they love you for it, no matter what grumbling you may hear.

On to business.

This Princess Luna now. As I understand it, she was banished to the Moon for a thousand years. Harsh, rather! Night Eternal sounds rather bad to your average cove, I’ll aver, but after a goodish night wetting the nose at the Drovers Club, the coming of the light seems to me an event best put off a bit. An’ the dawn comes up like thunder, as the poet said. So true! Though I have not personally witnessed the dawn for some years now, I understand that it still occurs, despite popular opinion against it, and am glad to be sheltered against its thunder by Cheese’s sovereign hangover preparation.

Invaluable pony, that Cheese.

But: re: Luna: to wit: hmmm. I have had the good fortune to have briefly met her sister, our Most Distinguished Ruler Princess Celestia, at my Aunt Coriander’s birthday party last spring, and the Princess appeared most formidable. That is to say: big. Big as a barn, to take the full measure of the thing. Robust in the chassis. I dared hope that this Luna would occupy a bit less floor space. A chap likes to feel free to move about, you know.

Cheese approached with my Vest of Many Colors.

“Your… item, sir,” announced Cheese, extending it with a bit of the old unicorn TK.

I bedecked the frame. “Well, what do you think, Cheese?” I said, displaying the result.

“Most… entertaining, sir,” replied Cheese.

“Exactly the effect I wish to obtain.”

“As you say, sir.” There was, in Cheese’s expression, a sad look, like a child deprived of a candy. Still, I held fast to my sartorial decision.

“Tell me, Cheese, what’s your take on this Princess Luna?”

“I have not had the privilege of Her Highness’s acquaintance, sir. Still, from all accounts, She is a most gracious and kindly Lady who has suffered a tragic history.”

“Well, then! A jolt of the old Barney Trotter charm will be just the thing for her!”

“No doubt, sir, after her meeting with you, her long solitude will seem less objectionable.”

“Just so! Perhaps I shall— hark!”

The doorbell sounded.

“With your permission, sir—?” asked Cheese.

“Carry on, Cheese.”

Cheese was gone. I understand these unicorn fellows, some of ‘em, can do this thing, here one second, then poof gone the next. Cheese, somehow, accomplishes this without the poof. There is only, suddenly, a complete subtraction of Cheese. Most disorienting, rather! I have, on occasion, found myself transported unexpectedly from point A to B, but only after the application of a few pints of the Desired Potion.

Cheese appeared. “Prince Blueblood, sir,” he announced, bowing.

“Blooey!” I cried, full of bonhomie. What a good egg, is old Blueblood! He’s one of these fascinating chaps whose voice becomes slower and deeper after a few quaffs of the Necessary Beverage. Listing a few degrees to starboard, his vocal rendition of Dear Old Mum, Me Only Chum fetches water to the driest eye at the Drovers.

“Oh, Barney! Barney! It’s the worst possible thing!” cried Blueblood as he trampled into the sitting room and collapsed onto the sofa.

Even in distress, a Blueblood strewn lengthwise across one’s divan presents a decorative display. Snowy pelt, golden mane, big shoulders, sapphire eyes, unicorn thingummy. Not much between the ears, but it’s the empty drum that sounds the loudest, what?

“My dear old Blooey! Whatever can be the matter?” I inquired, all tender solicitude and such.

Blueblood sobbed. “It’s Valencia!”

“Valencia? You mean, your Miss Orange? Is she ill? Stricken? Pulled up lame?”

“Oh, no,” Blueblood said, large wet ones rolling down his downy cheeks. “She’s as healthy as a, as a….” Blueblood looked about for inspiration, discovering only myself and Cheese. “As a horse,” he finished, sorrowfully.

“Then what in Equestria is wrong?” I asked.

“I— I’m afraid,” Blueblood said, haltingly between sobs, “that Valencia and I may have somehow, accidentally you understand, become— engaged to be married.”

My blood ran cold. Touching the brow, I felt frost forming on the old pumpkin. I sank down upon the sofa beside Blueblood and extended him the comforting claw.

“I’m so sorry, old fellow. Are you certain that there’s nothing to be done?”

“No! Nothing! Of all the worst things that could have happened—!”

“How did it happen?” I asked, hoping to avoid his mistake.

“Well, it was like this,” said Blueblood, with all the eagerness of one who secretly cherishes a good disaster, even his own. “You know that Valencia is keen on birdwatching?”

I pondered Valencia. Sturdy, vigorous Earth Pony. Takes long strides. Fond of boots and canvas bags. Voice like a brace of brass bugles. Birdwatching? Typical of the breed. I nodded.

“So, the other day,” Blueblood continued, “we were out and about. She was looking at birds. Very hot on the traces of a… what was it? A yellow-throated warbler, or some such. And there I was, galumphing along behind.”

“The woods, the sky, the turn of the earth. Quite the romantic setting, I dare say,“ I dared to say.

“Can’t abide nature,” said Blueblood, sniffing. “So much awful muck, squishing beneath one’s hooves. A good grooming, undone in an instant.”

“Tragic.”

“So I was galumphing along behind her, taking a bracer or two, you know, from the flank flask. Against the cold. Or snake bite. You understand.”

“Completely.”

“She was rambling on and on about the purple-throated whatzit and the crested thingummy. Then she started talking about nests. You know, nests? Little bric-a-brac bowl-thingies? For birds?”

Nesting? I feared where this would lead.

“Then, suddenly, she asks me if, possibly, the two of us could make a nest together.”

Ah, no. The ticker sank.

“Well, naturally, being the noble and agreeable fellow that I am, I said Sure, why not?” said Blueblood. “I thought she meant an arts-and-crafts project.” He waved a hoof vaguely. “A Winter Wrap-Up sort of thing. What servants do.”

“Well, of course.”

Cheese said nothing. It was impressive, the degree to which he said nothing.

“So she rattled on for a bit. I nodded from time to time, not really listening.” Blueblood struck the sofa with a hoof. “But then there I was, warmed against the cold, or the snakes, or whatever, and slowly it began to sink into me that Valencia was no longer talking about making nests but about making our life together! Marriage! And I had put my hoof into it and agreed! Can you imagine?”

I sighed, shaking the melon. Poor Blooey.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m a firm believer in the old yoke-and-harness. My own parents were hitched, don’t you know. Still, for a stallion like Blooey to be broken to the y&h at such a tender age—!

“What can I do, Barney? I’m a Prince!” Blooey struck a pose. “How can one in my position break off an engagement? Imagine the dishonor. Imagine the… larger consequences.”

I caught his drift. Disgrace the Royal Family? Embarrass Celestia? Unwise. In the firmament, there would be soon a tiny crater with Blueblood’s surprised face on it.

“Oh, Barney, what can I do?” Blooey wailed.

I allowed it was a stumper, and a right corker at that.

Cheese coughed, discretely.

“If I may suggest, Your Highness—?”

And there it was. Hi-yo, Cheese! Away! It’s always darkest before the d., but you can always count on Cheese to deliver the straight tabasco.

“Would I be correct, Your Highness, in assuming that you will be attending this evening’s Grand Galloping Gala?”

Blueblood sighed. “Yes, of course. This year as every year, with the Dame and Sire.”

“And Miss Orange?”

Blueblood nodded. “Of course, she will be there, along with her own mother and father. They are the Manehatten Oranges, you know. Up-and-comers in the social set.”

“So you will both be going, but not together, Your Highness?”

“That’s correct. Although I don’t suppose there’s any way for me to avoid bumping into her.”

“What are you thinking, Cheese?” I asked, eager to be in on the plot.

“I was considering, sir, if it might be possible to make use of one of His Highness’s greatest strengths to extricate him from this unexpected commitment.”

“Grand idea, Cheese!” I enthused. “Although I don’t see how Blooey launching into a performance of Dear Old Mum will assist in these circs.”

“Ahem. Not to in any way diminish His Highness’s vocal accomplishments, sir,” said Cheese, “but I was thinking more along the lines of His Highness’s qualifications as an eminently desirable bachelor. If I may say, His Highness appears to me to be a most handsome stallion, well-spoken, cultured and refined. Not to overlook His Highness’s majestic lineage.”

“Blooey is the pip, I’ll agree. But how does this help?” I asked.

“Wait, Barney,” interjected Blooey, sweeping back his golden mane. “I believe Cheese may be on to something here. Do go on.”

“I should imagine,” continued Cheese, “that His Highness is eagerly sought after by many of the gentler sex, in hopes of winning His Highness’s favor.”

“Oh, you have no idea,” said Blueblood, smoothing his coat and arranging his vest. “Beauty is such a curse, at times.”

“I fear that Miss Orange, in the throes of her infatuation, may not have considered the effect of His Highness’s exceptional popularity on the comfort of her proposed domestic situation. To wit: she will inevitably encounter rivals for His Highness’s affections. And, if I may be so bold, Your Highness, these rivals will not stop with His Highness’s nuptials.”

“Oh, no. I imagine not,” said Blueblood. He straightened on the sofa and now looked quite his usual self. “The race is not always to the swift, you know. There is also… persistence to consider. And there are so many fillies that are most… persistent,” he said with a secret smile.

“Even so, Your Highness,” agreed Cheese. “I suggest, then, that if Miss Orange had the opportunity to observe one of your pursuers, at some small remove, she might come to perceive that the field of marriage is not so much one of bliss as it is of continual battle.”

“So your idea is,” I put in, struggling to stay up on the game, “that Valencia get a good eyeful of old Blooey in the crosshairs of some go-getter, so that Valencia will get a notion of the trouble she’s letting herself in for?”

“Precisely, sir,” said Cheese. “It may even occur to Miss Orange that, as her family is, as His Highness has said, ‘an up-and-comer in the social set,’ that she herself might, regrettably, be perceived as a ‘go-getter’ in certain circles. Surely, in deference to her family’s reputation, and for her own peace of mind, she will beg His Highness to terminate their understanding.”

I shook my head in wonder. “It’s the carrots, isn’t it, Cheese? Only the regular application of carrots can account for your astounding brain.”

“I endeavor to give satisfaction, sir.”

“I approve,” announced Blueblood, standing. Once more, old Blooey was in command. “You have done well, Cheese.”

“It is my privilege to be of service, Your Highness.”

“Hang on,” I put in. “What’s to keep Valencia from just marching straight up to Blooey at the Gala and hangin’ on to him all night long? Rather hard to be hunted when the gamekeeper already has you bagged.”

“Ah, well,” said Cheese. “That’s where you come in, sir.”

“Me?”

“Indeed, sir.”

Ulp.