• 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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At the Gala

Well, you know the Code of the Trotters: “Never let a palomino down.” Blooey isn’t a palomino, of course. Still, it’s the principle of the thing. And when your pal is a prince, even more so, and so forth.

So, armored up in the full soup-and-fish, I set off to Castle Canterlot, on a quest to rescue a handsome prince from the clutches of a marriage-breathing dragon.

“I say, Cheese,” I said, on the cab ride over to Castle C. “Were you able to scrounge a feminine conspirator for this evening’s wheeze?”

“I had the opportunity to examine the guest list for the Grand Galloping Gala, sir, and I believe that I discovered a most suitable young lady.”

“You had the guest list? For the Grand Galloping Gala? How in Equestria did you manage that?”

“I am a member of the Augean Club, sir,” explained Cheese. “An informal society of valets and other domestics. It is not uncommon for the guest lists of major social functions to be circulated among the members, so that one might anticipate and avoid uncomfortable encounters.”

“Greasing the gears of the gala, eh?”

“Precisely, sir. The young lady I’ve selected to assist His Highness in this endeavor is a Miss Rarity of Ponyville—.”

Ponyville? Oh, Cheese, you disappoint me terribly! You aren’t going to push some corn-fed rustic onto old Blooey, surely!”

“Oh no, sir!” insisted Cheese, strenuously. Cheese is a most even-tempered pony, nearly inert as a rule, but I dare say in that moment he became almost life-like. “The young lady in question is a most cultured and refined fashion designer that has lately gained a considerable reputation among the smart set. I myself have had the occasion to visit her establishment on my days off. In fact, the cravat that I’m wearing this evening is one of her ‘neck creations.’”

“Most stylish, Cheese.”

“As is the young lady, sir. It was my thought, sir, that an out-of-town admirer would emphasize to Miss Orange the peril of amorous association with His Highness.”

“Valencia vs Equestria, eh? An excellent thought, Cheese.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Our cab came ashore off the coast of the Castle. Cheese and I tumbled out. While Cheese paid off the cabbie, I looked around the old pile. Most picturesque, I thought.

“Unless I’m very much mistaken, sir,” said Cheese, “I believe Miss Rarity and her party are arriving.”

“Good gracious, Cheese! Is that a large reptile driving their coach?”

“I believe it to be an immature dragon, sir.”

“A dragon? Quite posh, I must say, though I hope they’ll keep the beast on a leash. I recall, two seasons ago, when Winky Fig-Nettle brought this manticore kitten to the festivities. Chewing on the furniture, hair in the punchbowl! The unspeakable thing it did in Lady Wickerbottom’s hat. Disastrous.”

“A most ill-considered adventure, sir.”

At this point, as so often happens at these get-togethers, a ferocious song-and-dance broke out. Now, don’t mistake me. Barney Trotter’s been known to warble a fruity number and twinkle a toe or two, after gassing up with a few oz. of the appropriate lubricant. But a fellow would appreciate a little notice when a quadrille is declared and a chorus line comes charging up the path. As it was, it took a bit of fancy stepping just to avoid being driven into the trenches by the dancing cavalry line.

When at last a general armistice was announced, I looked about to find Cheese standing at the courtyard gate, deep in conversation with a striking unicorn mare. Quite a topper she was! Cheese had promised a proper Blueblood lure and he had delivered the hot stuff, without doubt!

After a mo’, the two parted company. Cheese flowed back across the lawn.

“I have directed Miss Rarity to proceed to the Grand Salon, where, if you will recall, sir, His Highness agreed to loiter while waiting for his companion to arrive.”

“Keen on the scent, then, is she?”

“I merely brought to her attention, sir, that there was a distinguished admirer who wished, for the moment, to remain anonymous, but who was greatly desirous of her acquaintance, should she find herself in the vicinity of the Grand Salon.”

“So, the pawns are in motion, then, eh, Cheese? All the knights and bishes and castle-thingies moving into place?”

“As you say, sir. I believe I observed just now, sir, that Miss Valencia and the Oranges are proceeding to the Foyer, where, if I’m not mistaken, Princess Celestia is receiving guests.”

“Time for me to put the squeeze on the Oranges, then.”

“If you must say so, sir.”

I trotted off towards the Foyer whilst Cheese flickered away to the servants’ quarter.

***

The Foyer of Castle Canterlot was a splendidly lit cavern of marble and velvet. Groups of ponies, no doubt recovering from their recent musical exertions, were scattered about.

Above all, as expected, the Equis Major loomed over the proceedings from her lair atop the stairs, all sunshine and billowy bits.

Below, on the staircase, waiting for their whack at the Presence, was a short line of ponies, the Oranges among them, moving up slowly. I muscled my way towards them and turned on the old personality.

“I say, Oranges! What ho!”

The elder Oranges turned towards me. They appeared disappointed by the view, offering me only shuttered faces: Sorry, we’re closed; please come again. Young Valencia, though, bless ‘er, was all matey.

“Barney! How very pleasant! Mummy, Daddy, this is Barney Trotter. He’s a friend of Blueblood’s.”

At the drop of Blooey’s name the shutters opened, the windows came up and the red carpet rolled out.

“So, you’re a friend of the Prince, then, Mr. Trotter,” ingratiated Mr. Orange, exuding the old oil. “Always profitable to meet an intimate of the Royal Family.”

The Mrs. looked me up and down, as if unsure if crossing a Barney’s path was a sign of impending good fortune or mis-. She delicately proffered the hoof.

“So good to meet you, Mr. Trotter,” she whinnied. “You are close to Prince Blueblood, are you?”

“Oh, yes. Old school chums, don’t you know? Drank out of the same bottle at kindergarten. Still do so on occasion now, come to think of it.”

“So your family is influential?” asked the Mr. with some eagerness.

“Absolutely. We Trotters have always been as tight as ticks with the Royals, right on up to the Big ‘Un herself, you know—.”

***

“Welcome to the Gala, Barnyard Trotter.”

***

Princess Celestia’s voice sang as a choir of harps.

I froze, like a cat caught in the creamery. I glanced up, following the wavy mane to her face and her vast, violet eyes, now trained like searchlights on yours truly.

“Wha-what ho, Your Highness!” I croaked. “Nice day! That is, it was a nice day, ha ha! Grand old Sun, nice and roundish sort of thing! Good job, I say! A good day’s work!”

Princess Celestia smiled at me.

Here’s the rummy thing. When my Aunt Coriander smiles at me, there is always in the old gal’s rictus a suggestion of Oh, whatever shall we do with you, you ridiculous boy?

But when Princess Celestia smiles at me, there’s something inside Barney Trotter’s rib cage that warms right up and smiles back at her. And when her gaze turns away, there’s an ache in a place that is normally ache-free.

It’s something I reflect on, now and again, in quiet moments.

Ahem. Well.

Back to business.

While the Oranges expressed their howdy-dos to Princess Celestia, I turned my attention upon Princess Luna, who I detected crouching in Celestia’s shadow. Now, this was more like someone my own size. When it comes to Princesses, I think the half-portion is the recommended dosage for Barney Trotter.

Princess Luna, clad in her gown of night and stars, looked up at me with huge, timid eyes, as one clearly unused to the bustle of crowds. Still glowing a bit inside, I cranked the charm up to maximum.

“Barnyard Marengo Trotter, Your Highness,” I declared, bowing smartly. “At your service!”

“Good evening, sir,” she replied, quietly. “But I’m not royalty at all; I’m just Princess Celestia’s apprentice.”

The poor thing was clearly deranged and uncertain of herself after her long isolation. The Trotter heart was moved.

“Wonderful to have you back in old Canterlot,” I offered, consolingly.

“Thanks, but I haven’t been away from Canterlot that long.”

The Princesses count time differently from us common folk, I thought.

“Days. Weeks. Centuries. How the time does slip away,” I nodded, knowingly. “Many’s the time I’ve awakened from the post-luncheon nap and wondered where the day has gone.”

“Um, right.”

“Splendid finally seeing you here at the Grand Galloping G.! I hope you’ll be lighting up the night sky at many more!”

“Thank you, sir,” Princess Luna smiled.

Charming little squirt, this Luna. Happy to see her about the place, sincerely.

I moved aside to let the Oranges have their turn. Looking at Valencia, I contemplated my next move. Happily, a Trotter is never at a loss for a stratagem.

As the Oranges broke free from the Princesses’ orbit, I fell in beside Valencia.

“I say, Valencia! Have you seen old Blueblood about?”

“Oh no, Barney. Mummy, daddy and I have only just arrived.”

“Well, here’s an idea: let’s look for him together.”

“Oh, yes, Barney. Let’s!”

“Perhaps the four of us should go?” suggested Mrs. Orange, uncertainly.

“Sound idea, my dear,” inserted the Mr. “I’d like a chance to discuss a few investment opportunities with the Prince. And with you as well, Mr. Trotter.”

Oh, no. This wouldn’t do. I pressed the old grapefruit. Stratagem, Trotter, stratagem.

“Oh, Daddy, no!” trumpeted Valencia. “Blueblood and I will want a little time to ourselves. We’ll have… affairs of our own to see to, don’t you think? I’m sure Barney will be sufficient escort. The four of us might be a bit… ponderous.”

“Ah, yes,” Mr. Orange looked a bit deflated. Then he perked up, “Well! Perhaps later this evening then, Mr. Trotter.”

Victory! A Trotter is never at a disadvantage!

“Let’s go, Barney!” cried Valencia.

“Tails up, then. Right ho!”