• 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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Applejack and After

I have previously spoken, I believe, of the regard in which I hold Cheese and his remarkable brain. I admit that I have less than a full share of the thinking stuff, so I hold those with an overage in high esteem.

Yet! Look at the absurd situation I found myself in! After carefully following Cheese’s scheme, Valencia was still eager to score on Blooey, more keenly than ever!

At Valencia’s declaration of her renewed dedication to Blooey, I goggled. I daresay, I was even gobsmacked! The plan, the precious plan, had become a complete floater! You could have knocked me over with an f.!

If there was ever a time for a bit of liquid stimulant, this was it, I thought.

At this moment, Blueblood and his companion arose and ambled off towards the Salon.

“Come, Barney! Let us pursue!” directed Valencia. We dismounted from the bench and moved circuitously around to the Gallery, where couples strolled from one place of merriment to another.

Valencia was hot on the scent of Blueblood, while I was casting about for a source of refreshment. Reflecting on my circs., I felt a moderate skinful would improve my outlook considerably.

“Cousin Applejack!” bugled Valencia, unexpectedly.

“Cousin Valencia!”

What what? I thought.

Valencia had stopped before a vendor’s cart. The vendor, a lovely young palomino, stepped out from behind her grocer’s stand to embrace Valencia.

“It is so good to see you, dear cousin,” exclaimed Valencia.

“Cousin Valencia, yore a sight for sore eyes yourself!” insisted the vendor.

“I have so missed my visits to Sweet Apple Acres! The fields, the trees, the birds…!”

“Come on out for the next family reunion! We’d all be plumb tickled t’see ya!”

Valencia and her cousin, Applejack?, were quite matey for a bit. I pawed at the pavement, pondering the nearest likely sources of refreshment.

“Please, Barney,” pled Valencia, at last. “Stay here with Applejack while I look for Blueblood. He must be about somewhere!”

“Of course.”

Valencia stepped away to reconnoiter.

Applejack. Now, there was a name that whispered opportunity. I turned my full attentions to this cousin.

“Howdy, partner! You hungry?” the palomino asked, brightly.

“Um, no. Thirsty, rather.”

She motioned to her collection of flasks. “Sweet cider, fresh from the farm! No better apple cider anywhere, nosiree!”

A sigh escaped me. “Nothing to protect one against snakebite, I suppose?”

Applejack tilted her hat back and favored me with a speckled grin. “Well now, I reckon I can help you with that.” She fished around in her stand and came up with a small bottle of golden liquid labelled with a smiling apple. “I think this might be what yore a-hankerin’ for.”

“Will it protect me from snakes?”

“Believe me, partner: it’ll bite ‘em back.”

“One, please,” I said quickly, digging in for the bits.

I passed her the shiny. She passed me the wet stuff.

I mouthed the cork on the bottle and quickly soaked up the contents. At the risk of being accused of hyperbole, I felt in that moment that the golden light of Celestia’s sunrise burst through me and fairly glowed through my pores. My toes danced and my tail twitched. I may have whistled. I daresay I would have been unsurprised if wings had unfurled from my back.

Smiling, Applejack asked, “That suit ya, partner?”

I replied, after careful deliberation, “Eee-yup.”

Unfortunately, before I could request a second snifter, Valencia returned.

She motioned energetically towards me and the two of us quickly sought concealment behind some potted plants.

Blueblood and his companion arrived on the scene shortly, strolling towards Applejack’s marketplace.

After some dickering, Blueblood accepted a jolly-looking apple fritter.

Blooey took a big bite of the pastry, essayed a chew or two, then spat it back out.

Rather bad form, I thought. I’ve been through enough dinners with my Aunt Coriander to know that it’s better to just choke the stuff down than bring it back up, particularly if one is trying to impress. There is always the consolation of the midnight raid on the larder to consider, not to mention the wine cellar.

Blueblood and his companion fussed about a bit, then strutted off from the Gallery towards the Salon.

Cousin Applejack, I noted, looked downcast. Poor girl, I thought. Perhaps she had a few more flasks of the golden brew that I could purchase. To help elevate her spirits, you understand. And, possibly, my own.

I turned to Valencia for advice. Valencia looked rather like she’d just bitten into a particularly sour apple and discovered a worm. Or, perhaps, half a worm.

“Insufferable! Insufferable!” she muttered, shaking her head.

Naturally, I assumed she was referring to me. I get that a lot, from my aunts. I scanned the carcass, seeking my error. On the whole, everything looked quite oojah-cum-spiff, I thought.

Looking up, I noted a new note of determination had entered into Cousin Applejack’s countenance.

“Well, my down-home apples are plenty good enough for this crowd,” said Applejack. “I’ll just dress 'em up a bit. Prove it to 'em.”

The Trotter heart went out to this horse before the cart. I wondered how I, a simple stallion, could comfort this fine creature in her sad hour.

Happily, Valencia Orange had the answer for me.

“YOU! TROTTER!” she declaimed, aiming a hoof in my direction.

Ulp.

“You shall assist Applejack in ‘dressing up’ her ‘vittles.’”

Me? I hardly know which end of a fork to use. Cheese is the pony you want for this sort of job. Now, if Cheese were here….”

“May I be of some assistance, sir?” asked Cheese.

Nearly startled me out of my shoes, I must say. “Cheese! You have a habit of congealing out of the air in a most heart-stopping manner. Consider wearing a bell or something.”

“My apologies, sir.”

“As I was saying, if you were here….”

“I am here, sir.”

“Yes, I can see that. But if you were here….”

“I am here, sir.”

“Alright, alright, we’ve established that. Now, if you were here….”

“I am here, sir.”

“Barney! Do be quiet for a moment!” exasperated Valencia.

She continued, “Cheese, do you suppose you could lend your culinary expertise to this endeavor?”

“I would consider it a privilege, Miss Orange. Judging from the exquisite confections artfully arranged on Miss Applejack’s cart, the young lady’s skills in this area far exceed my meager own. Still: in my brief visit to Castle Canterlot, I have had the opportunity to study the Royal Kitchens and to acquaint myself with the gustatory possibilities that lie within, so perhaps I might serve as her guide and assistant.”

“Then,” said Valencia, “please be so good as to escort my cousin to the kitchens and help her with her preparations.”

“Nothing would give me greater pleasure. If I could, perhaps, tempt Miss Applejack to accompany me to the Royal Kitchens….”

“You shore do talk fancy, Mr. Cheese!” said Applejack, grinning.

“Thank you, miss. Now, if you will proceed this way—?”

***

Cheese and I helped wrestle Cousin Applejack's wares down to the Royal Kitchens. The kitchens were bustling with busy ponies, but we managed to drift into a quiet cove where Applejack was able to set to work enhancing her "vittles."

I took the opportunity to draw Cheese aside for a sadly necessary rebuke.

"Cheese," I began, "what I have to say will wound you, but it must be said, aloud and plainly: you have failed me."

"I am most distressed to hear this, sir," said Cheese. "Might I enquire as to the manner in which I have not given satisfaction?"

"Your plan, Cheese!" I ejaculated. "This wheeze of yours is entirely a non-starter. I thought as much this afternoon, when you laid it out before Blooey. But I held my tongue, against my better judgement, in the hope that you had somehow scouted a narrow way through. But look where your navigation has led us! Bang, up on the rocks and sinking fast! Valencia has looked upon the competition and laughed, laughed derisively mind you, ha ha! And behold her now! She is more keen on Blooey than ever!"

Valencia had stabled herself in a corner of the kitchen, between an ice sculpture in the shape of a swan and a crate of turnips. A hiss of "Blueblood!" escaped her from time to time, like a kettle coming to boil.

"She's champing at the bit to get to him!" I said.

"It shames me to admit, sir, that I may have slightly shaded my previous explanation of my proposal."

"I am appalled, Cheese."

"Forgive me, sir, but I thought it best for all concerned to be indirect, in order to spare His Highness's more tender feelings. This afternoon, after hearing His Highness's dilemma, it occurred to me that possibly all that was necessary to resolve His Highness's conundrum was to permit Miss Orange to observe His Highness 'in the wild', as it were, unrestrained by her companionship. In such circumstances, I felt certain, taking into account the psychology of the pony, that His Highness in a gathering of eligible mares would follow his usual instincts with respect to the gentler sex. And Miss Orange, utilizing her experience as a keen observer of nature, would be led sadly but inevitably to the understanding that His Highness, while in every other fashion a most excellent pony and a credit to his family, is, perhaps, a less than entirely desirable domestic companion."

I rattled the walnut. "Sorry, Cheese, I followed you up to the first hurdle but you lost me in the chicane. Shorter and simpler, if you please?"

"Left to his own devices, Prince Blueblood will act as Prince Blueblood will. And Miss Orange, seeing this, will reconsider her relationship with His Highness."

"But look at her, Cheese!" I insisted. "She's itching to get at him!"

"Miss Orange has a most passionate nature, to be sure, sir. But her present manner communicates certain subtleties that may have escaped your notice. Ah, if I may excuse myself, sir? I believe Miss Applejack is signaling for my assistance in preparing the egg whites."

I felt shaken to my core. I had always held Cheese's brain high in my artillery, but here the old party cannon had plainly pooped. A sad, sad turn of events.

Leaving Cousin Applejack and Cheese to their preparations, Valencia and I returned to the Grand Salon to resume our surveillance of Blueblood.

The music that infiltrated the Grand Salon had taken on a boompa-boompa quality that I found quite appealing. A pink mare bounded by insisting, “C’mon! Dance!” I found this most encouraging. A Trotter is a creature of action, at his best when presenting a moving target. I looked to Valencia for support, but she seemed disinclined to “party.”

“Blueblood! Where is Blueblood?” she demanded through gritted teeth.

Applejack? Where is Applejack? I wondered, with a desiccated throat.

In an amazingly short time thereafter, as if in response to my soul’s desire, Applejack appeared with her confection: an apple-themed cake of towering magnificence.

What happened from this point on, I don’t entirely understand, although I suspect some careless pony unleashed that dragon.

Somepony shouted “STAGE DIVE!” This cheered me immensely, having shouted such myself on occasion. I turned to welcome this kindred spirit to my bosom, when I abruptly encountered a face-full of apple cake.

This is excellent cake, I thought, scraping a bit into my mouth. You have done well, Cousin Applejack.

At this juncture there was a great deal of crashing and shrieking, at the end of which I was not dead or even injured. I considered this a good thing.

It was pleasant, I must confess, to be at the center of a disaster that was not of one’s own making. For once, I was not the chump. I gloried in this moment for awhile, then looked down.

I quickly realized that I was closely crouched in a compromising posish. over the huddling form of Valencia Orange.

“Barney!” she exclaimed, clearly startled to be pressing the flesh with yours truly.

“Oh, sorry, old girl!” I exclaimed back. “I appear to have somehow leapt to your aid and shielded you from the falling wreckage with my body! My apologies!”

“Oh, Barney!” she exclaimed further, her orbs suddenly dewey with emotion.

Well, this won’t do, I thought. We Trotters have always been doughty, protecting the meek from disaster. It is our curse. In this instance, however, a bit less flesh-pressing and a bit more studied remoteness was called for, I thought.

A moment later, the garden doors of the Grand Salon burst open and a beastly gallimaufry abruptly invited themselves to the party.

“YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE ME!

Surprisingly, this belligerent pronouncement came from the squirt that Valencia had earlier rescued in the Gardens. She had apparently taken that 'tiger' business to heart like billy-o.

When a Trotter is called to the post, he must respond. Ever the peacemaker, I drew myself up and prepared to suggest to the young droop that, while I felt that 'love' was premature, I was willing hold her in 'warm regard' if she would only be so good as to restrain the oncoming stampede.

However, I was compelled to re-focus my attentions when a ferret, or a frantic, furry something similarly equipped with claws and teeth, attached itself to my face. I attempted, without much success, to negotiate a ceasefire with the creature. At my hoof, Valencia, for her part, was struggling to escape the embrace of a squadron of hedgehogs that had sought shelter in the lee of her harbor.

It seemed best, at this point, to for us collect ourselves with some alacrity and retire to a place of safety, outside. Where, of course, we immediately ran into Blooey.