• Published 6th Apr 2012
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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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In the Garden

Per the plan, I drew Valencia towards the Royal Gardens. It required little more than a bump on my part, for, as an enthusiastic amateur ornithologist, Valencia rated the ticking of a rara avis off the tally list only slightly below the ticking of a regalis equis.

Slight complication: the Royal Veg. Patch is pretty big. We wandered through some bally odd statuary and were nearly devoured by a labyrinth before the lights of the party hove into view.

I decided then to brace Valencia for her imminent disappointment. Dashed unpleasant work, I knew, but if there’s one commodity that Barney Trotter has in ready supply, it’s disappointment.

“Quite the romantic setting, you know,” I began. “The Royal Gardens, melting in the dark. All the sweet, green icing flowing down.”

“Oh, Barney!” laughed Valencia. “What nonsense you talk! One would think you’d left a cake out in the rain!”

“Well, as it happens, I— hark!”

Chirp.

There was a rustling in the bushes beside us.

Chirp.

More rustling.

Chirp.

Valencia stopped, perhaps hoping for the glorious sight of a purple-thatched slug-grubber or some such.

Chirp.

“What is the meaning of this?” exclaimed Valencia. “You there! Skulking in the underbrush! I see you! Come out!”

A balloon of pink hair rose up from the shrubbery. A gondola of melancholy, butter-yellow pegasus pony floated beneath.

“Young lady! What are you doing?” demanded Valencia.

“Chpng,” the yellow pegasus squeaked. She looked down longingly at the turf, as if desiring to burrow into it.

“What now? Speak up, girl!” insisted Valencia.

“I was… chirping.” She pawed the grass a bit. I wondered if I should prepare to badger in after her.

Chirping? Whatever for?”

“Well, you see,” the little shrimp explained, “when I first came into the Gardens, I was so excited by all the wonderful birds and critters that I galloped in to say ‘hello’ to them all and scared them all away.

“I was so sad.

“So I was hoping that by hiding under the bushes, and chirping quietly a bit, I could get them to come back.”

I think you can perceive the type of pony this was: the drooping, soupy sort of saucer-eyed young prune that dwells on the fluffiness of bunnies and the preciousness of pangolins. Probably commits poetry in secret, I shouldn’t wonder.

“Ah ha!” said Valencia, swelling into almost Celestial proportions. “You are, I perceive, a fellow birder.”

“Oh, yes! I love all the little birdies, bugs and critters! You, too?”

“There is no healthier or more improving life than one spent in the study of nature,” Valencia boomed. “Fresh air! Vigorous exercise! The mind and spirit engaged! A certain cure for the lazy and debauched lifestyle that has unfortunately become all too common.”

For some reason, all heads turned towards yours truly at this point.

“What ho!” I offered, nodding the lemon.

Valencia shook her head. Then she turned back to the pegasus.

“The trouble, my dear,” Valencia explained, “is that you’re going about it entirely the wrong way.”

“I am?” asked the pegasus, her eyes quivering pools of green treacle.

“Absolutely! You are waiting here, chirping, hoping that they will come to you. But, my dear, you must go to them! And not as a mere passive observer, but as a hunter!”

“A hunter?” the squirt breathed, wide-eyed.

“Yes! In the day, it is sufficient to look on from afar. But at night, you must stalk your birds, approaching with stealth, cunning and guile! Take them unaware, and they are yours! Yours forever!”

If ponies had fangs, I might have seen Valencia’s then, glinting in the moonlight.

“Oooh!” cooed the pegasus. “My friends are always telling me I should be more bold.”

“Heed them!” Valencia asserted. “Carpe noctem! Seize the night and make it your own! Set aside the butterfly for the evening and become the stalking tiger!”

“Oooh, I’d like to be a tiger! I’ll do it! Thank you so much for taking me under your wing!”

Odd statement, I thought, coming from a pegasus to an Earth Pony. But there it was.

“No trouble at all, dear girl. Always glad to aid one of the sisterhoof.”

The pegasus flittered off, excitedly mumbling, “I’m a tiger! Grar! Heehee!”

Valencia, looking mighty pleased with herself, commanded, “Come along, then, Barney! Our true quarry is Blueblood! Let us hunt! Tally-ho!”

***

As it happened, we didn’t have to hunt very far. We rounded a corner of the Gardens and discovered a short ways off Blueblood seated on a cushion.

“Ah! Blueblood!” gushed Valencia.

But, before she could charge forward, a unicorn appeared, levitating a cushion. This new unicorn set her cushion down beside Blueblood’s, plopped herself down, then engaged Blooey in keen conversation.

Valencia stopped. “Who is this, now?” she asked.

This, I divined, was the crucial moment, the time to unlimber the mighty weapon of… of… wait, hold on. Missed the turn there, I’m afraid. “Mighty weapon of…?” Ugh! Long word. Starts with an ’s’. Tip of my t. Cheese uses it all the time. Um, ah— psychology! Yes, got it!

It was time to unlimber the mighty weapon of psychology!

“Blueblood appears to be with someone,” I instigated.

“Yes,” replied Valencia, in a voice like sharpening knives.

“Quite the pipertino, I’d say,” I said.

“Yes.”

“The mare, I mean. Not Blueblood. Not that Blueblood isn’t a pip. He certainly is! But, in this instance, I meant the mare. She’s a pip, too.”

“Yes,” Valencia said. “I think I’d like a closer look. This way, Barney! And please try not to drivel so much.”

Valencia dropped below the line of the hedge and crept off with the stealth and posture of a questing spider. I did my best to lobster along behind her. We moved roundabout towards the couple, stopping at a tall hedge near by. Valencia climbed on top of a decorative garden bench and silently parted the shrubbery so she could spy on the other side.

“Look at her!” she hissed. “Fetching and carrying for him like a servant! Shameless!”

I clambered up beside her and quietly poked a porthole through the foliage. The mare was presenting Blueblood with a flute of the bubbly. A moment later, she used a bit of the unicorn TK to snag two plates of gooey things on crackers from a passing waiter.

“A common courtesan,” muttered Valencia. “Has she no pride?!”

“Tough break, old girl,” I offered, bracing Valencia against the shock.

“What do you mean?” she whispered.

“It appears that you have a rival for Blueblood’s attentions.”

“Yes,” said Valencia. “It seems so.”

“Very attractive. Quite the topper! The mare, I mean, not…”

“Yes, thank you, Barney.”

“An out-of-towner, if I’m not mistaken. Likely traveled all day just to be here.”

“Yes.”

“Tonight.”

“Yes.”

“With him.

“Yes.”

Valencia was taking the matter rather too calmly, I thought. I had been expecting a bit of shouting and stamping about by this point.

“Looks like it’s Valencia vs Equestria, old thing,” I elaborated, withdrawing a bit from the bracing account and placing the proceeds towards the shock.

“Oh, I relish the challenge!” she proclaimed. She pulled her head out of the shrubbery and gazed at me, her eyes shining with an eagerness that I found not at all encouraging.

“What?” I said, with my habitual eloquence.

“I don’t doubt that there are many mares with designs upon my Blueblood,” Valencia said. “He’s a member of the Royal Family, wealthy, and as you’ve noted, quite the handsome stud, if you’ll pardon my Fancy.

“But, you see, Barney, of all of Blueblood’s suitors, only I understand what sort of partner he truly needs. Not some gussied-up serving girl who will wait upon his every whim, but somepony who is strong! Somepony who will take the reins firmly, apply the spurs and drive him through his paces and over the hurdles! Somepony to draw him out of the rude clay of his indolent, self-indulgent life and sculpt him into a thoroughbred to be proud of!

“Somepony,” Valencia declared, baring her teeth, “like me!”