Derpy Hooves rolled out of bed and just knew that today was a good day. Of course, most days were good when you were Derpy Hooves. She had a great family, great friends, and a great job.
She pushed the curtains aside to let the sunlight in. It promised to be another beautiful day in Ponyville. Derpy thought she could see Rainbow Dash zoom off to obliterate another unnecessary rain cloud from the face of the sky. Good pony. Derpy’s own foray into cloud handling had turned out badly, with a bit of property damage and Rainbow Dash yelling at her, but everything had worked out just fine in the end.
She left the bedroom and headed for the stairs. Noise from the bathroom suggested that one of her darlings was undertaking her morning ablutions. Or, if you preferred to be less fancy, washing her face. Derpy never ceased to be amazed how everypony had to have dozens of expressions for the same thing, as though it somehow made things different. And that wasn’t even taking different languages into account. In Derpy’s line of work, it paid well to consider these things.
Her eldest daughter was making breakfast in the kitchen for everypony. Amethyst ‘Sparkler’ Star was always an eager worker. Of course, she wasn’t Derpy’s daughter in the strictest biological sense, but a girl her age did not belong in an orphanage while there was still some justice in the world. Dinky loved her big sister, and Derpy had enough love for both of them.
“Morning, mom,” Sparkler said. Spoons, tea cups and bread rolls flew through the air and joined the breakfast of champions on the table. A basket of fragrant, oven-hot muffins completed the setup.
“Good morning, sweetie,” Derpy said, taking a seat and reaching for the delectable baked goods. A sudden burst of magic stung her hoof, and she recoiled.
“Ah, ah, mom,” Sparkler chided, her horn glowing. “What is it that you always say?”
Derpy smiled. Sparkler was responsible, too. “In this house, we eat together. Very good, sweetie. Dinky!” she shouted in the direction of the upper floor. “We’ll eat your food if you don’t get down here!”
On cue, a door slammed upstairs, and a small blur of rambunctiousness came bouncing down the stairs and crash-hugged Derpy. “Hi mom!”
“Good morning, my little muffin.” She planted a loving kiss on Dinky’s forehead and moved her into her own seat. “Did you sleep well? No bad dreams?”
Dinky shook her head. “Miss Cheerilee says dreams aren’t real anyway. An’ Miss Sparkle said dreams are just a subconscious side effect of metastasizing the conceptual imaging of the short-term memory into long-term memory. Then they argued about acceptable levels of education difficulty while we went out to play.”
“Those are some big words, kiddo,” Sparkler said. She levitated food onto Dinky’s plate, making sure she got a balanced diet. Growing foals needed more than muffins to be healthy.
The family ate in silence for several minutes. After all, good ponies did not talk and chew at the same time, unless they were Pinkie Pie. Derpy wiped her mouth on her napkin. “So! What will you be doing today, girls? What’s the class schedule for today, Dinky?”
“We’re doing the history of Equestria,” Dinky said. She tried to wipe the crumbs from her face, but failed until Sparkler did it for her. “From the Great Warming ‘til the rise of the princesses. An’ then we have math, an’ science, an’ Miss Cheerilee will tell us about cutie marks.”
“Sounds like fun,” Derpy said cheerfully. She ruffled her youngest’s mane playfully. “Learn as much as possible and get a cutie mark for being a genius, muffin.”
“I have a few jobs lined up today,” Sparkler said. “This morning I’m babysitting Tootsie Flute while her parents are away. And then I’m assisting Miss Rarity in evaluating her latest batch of gems – you know, which ones are flawless enough for jewelry, which ones are suited for decorating dresses, and which ones she can feed her coltfriend.”
Derpy smiled. “You know you’re not supposed to call him that. It’s supposed to be a secret.”
Dinky broke out in giggles. “Some secret! Half the town knows! I bet Miss Rarity knows too!”
“Now now, muffin, that’s not nice,” Derpy gently reprimanded her. “If he wants to play his little game, that’s up to him. He’s just waiting for the perfect moment.”
“Sorry, mom,” Dinky said, looking her most adorable in contrition. Being a young filly, adorability came as easy as breathing to her. She wasn’t allowed to be around diabetics anymore since the incident.
“After that, I’ll probably hang out with my friends at Sugar Cube Corner,” Sparkler concluded. “Dunno what we’ll do after that.”
“Good, good, excellent,” Derpy said with a bright smile. “And you know what else to do, right?”
Both girls nodded. They knew their job. “Hey, mom?” Sparkler said. “Do you think we can go to Canterlot again soon? There’s a historical exhibit on jewelry I want to see, and I need to visit some shops…”
“Why not?” Derpy said. “I’ll see if I can arrange a little outing.”
Half an hour later, Derpy was out and about, doing what she does best. Her coworkers at the mail office always wondered why she had taken the route that carried her all over town instead of a tighter, more manageable route, but she said she enjoyed the fresh air and the chance to talk to ponies.
Both of these were technically true.
Incidentally, her route took her past her good friend Carrot Top’s farm, and this morning the farmer in question was working in a manner more educated ponies would call ‘zealous’. She was furiously digging carrots out of the ground and tossing them on her wagon as though the field would catch on fire any moment, and seemed rather happy about it all the same.
“Hey, Carrot,” Derpy said, flapping into view. “You’re really busy today.”
The sudden appearance of her friend seemed to halt Carrot Top for the moment. “Derpy! It’s great to see you!” Scratch that, she was really happy.
“Wow, you’re in a really good mood today, Carrot. Did you get a coltfriend?” Derpy winked mischievously.
“Ha ha, no,” Carrot Top laughed. “Do you remember Cider Season at the Acres a few days ago?”
“Of course!” Derpy said. “When those fancy singing unicorns showed up with their machine and they had their competition? That was so much fun! We’ve never had so much cider before!” She cast a glance at the nearby apple orchards of Sweet Apple Acres. The majority of the trees had been picked clean, with only a few crops still maturing. “Wow, they really cleaned the place out, didn’t they?”
“Yeah, they sure did,” Carrot Top agreed. “Anyway, the Apples made a small fortune on that affair, but now they’re almost out of apples. And you know what that means?”
Derpy gasped. “They won’t have enough food to last through winter!”
Carrot Top just giggled. “No, you silly filly. AJ’s not dumb enough to let that happen. But it means far fewer apples to sell, which means ponies have to buy…”
“...Carrots!” Derpy exclaimed, realization dawning. “You’re going to sell so much more than usual!”
“Correctamundo!” Carrot Top said gleefully. “Well, me and the other non-apple farmers around here, but it’s an opportunity I can’t let go to waste. Until their next crop, apples are going to be scarce, and scarcity means higher prices, and higher prices means most ponies will look for cheaper base foods, and that means they have to come to me!”
“Congrats!” Derpy cheered. “I hope Applejack won’t be upset about about not getting to sell apples, though.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Carrot Top said. She gave her friend a disbelieving look. “A huge windfall from the cider and some time off for once? Last I heard she was wondering if it’d be inappropriate to dump all the money in a tub and roll around in it like a dragon. She’s fine.”
“Good to hear that,” Derpy said. “Oh! Before I forget, I have a letter to you. Or rather, I have a letter for ‘Golden Harvest’.” She smiled viciously as she retrieved it.
“Ugh. From my parents, I bet.” Carrot Top made a disgusted face as she took the letter. “Yep. Them and only them. I keep telling them, but…”
“At least you’re not as bad as ‘Sweetie Drops’,” Derpy suggested. “I still can’t believe she decked that poor stallion.”
Names were funny things, Derpy reflected as she continued on her route. Plenty of ponies had more than one. Your parents give you one they think sound cute and sweet, and then you find yourself with a profession and/or cutie mark that just doesn’t go with it. Who would hire a bricklayer named Daisy Wishes? Or maybe they tried to predict your future, like Carrot’s grain-industry family. So you go with a nickname, something that fits you better. Like Lyra, or Bon Bon, or Pinkie. (What was a Diane, anyway? Weird name.)
And Derpy Hooves was no different. Some locals called her Ditzy Doo when they thought her other name was some kind of insult, though she wasn’t entirely certain how that assumption wasn’t insulting too. She had experimented with Bubblecup in college, but it didn’t quite work.
And of course, nopony in Ponyville knew Bright Eyes.
Around her, life in Ponyville continued apace. Here, a couple of fillies played. There, that crazy librarian was going over her check list. Over here, the Cutie Mark Crusaders were tearing down the street with intent to cause mischief. Over there, Pinkie Pie danced with a paper hat on her head while the librarian chased her.
Never a dull moment in Ponyville. And Derpy had front-line seats for it all.
Her meandering had led her to Carousel Boutique, home of Rarity, Ponyville’s most famous fashionista. Though admittedly Derpy was certain they didn’t have any other fashionistas, so it wasn’t a widely contested title. Suspecting that the resident was occupied with the aforementioned gem sorting, she simply walked right in without knocking.
As expected, Rarity, Sparkler and Spike ‘I’m certainly not crushing on this pony’ the Dragon were busying themselves around a large pile of mixed gems. It was a curious sight, seeing them scrutinize each stone with an odd assortment of loupes, tuning forks, and other tools, before depositing it in one of the smaller piles – or, in the case of the little dragon, occasionally tossing it into his maw.
Derpy was so very proud of her eldest daughter. Sparkler had an incredible gift for spotting details and precious things – it was what her cutie mark represented, after all. She’d become an excellent jeweler if that was what she wanted. On the other hoof, that gift could be applied to many other things as well. It was the reason she kept taking all sorts of jobs around town; she wanted to keep her options open until she made her decision. One of the reasons, at least.
Derpy cleared her throat to get their attention. “Package for you, Miss Rarity. Hi sweetie. Hi, Spike.” She dug a large parcel out of her pack.
Rarity looked up and quickly discarded her tools. “Oh, that must be those fabrics I ordered. Here, let me sign for them.” She took the parcel and quickly spirited it away somewhere in her store, before floating over a pen and daintily signing Derpy’s pad. For a brief moment she wondered what it must be like to be able to move things with your mind. It probably couldn’t beat flying, though.
“Hey there, Derpster,” Spike said lazily, taking the opportunity with Rarity’s distraction to eat another gem.
“Spike!” Sparkler protested. “That stone was definitely above-average grade! And a ruby!”
“Sorry!” Spike protested. “It looked so juicy and nice. Sometimes I can’t help myself, you know?”
Rarity sighed. “It’s okay, Spike dear, but try to save the rubies. I’ll need those.”
“It’s for her latest order,” Sparkler elaborated for Derpy’s benefit. “That pop star, Sapphire Shores.”
“She wants another half a dozen dresses,” Rarity explained. “Only this time with rubies! Lots of them!” She sighed. “Rather tacky, but she is an important client and she allows me plenty of leeway with the rest of the designs, so I suppose it’s not so bad. Still, I hope I have enough.”
“I shouldn’t keep you busy then,” Derpy said. “Bye, Miss Rarity, Spike. I’ll see you at dinner, sweetie.” She gave them a hoof wave and left.
She lucked out on the next delivery when she found a familiar pink-maned pony standing about with her eyes to the sky. As this was Fluttershy and not Pinkie Pie, she clearly wasn’t trying to outstare the sun. Rather, she was observing a rainbow streak swirling intricately across the sky.
“Hello, Fluttershy,” Derpy said, startling the timid pegasus. “Watching Rainbow Dash practice?”
“Oh, it’s you, Derpy,” Fluttershy said, relieved. Derpy was thankfully not on her list of things to be very afraid of. She had a reputation for being clumsy and accident-prone, but not exactly intimidating. Fluttershy looked skyward again. “Yes, she’s planning to make her Wonderbolts application soon, so she’s been practicing really hard. Um, and I’m here to cheer for her. Yay,” she added. Derpy wasn’t entirely certain that Rainbow could hear her all the way up there, but it wasn’t her business how these ponies did things.
“So she’s getting better, then?” Derpy asked, watching the fancy moves above. It had been fun to take part in the Youngest Fliers Competition a while back, but she knew that Rainbow Dash was in a completely different league. Unfortunately, so were the Wonderbolts.
“Oh, yes,” Fluttershy said with pride for her friend. “She’s improving every day.” They both winced in sympathy as the flier chose that moment to crash into a cloud. “Mostly. You can do it, Rainbow Dash,” she cheered softly. “Woo-hoo.”
“Okay then…” Derpy dug out a small pile of letters. “Here’s your mail, and here’s Dashie’s, if you could give it to her when she’s done. Oh, and tell her I said good luck.” She paused. “Or is it ‘break a wing’? I’m not sure if that superstition applies here.”
“Oh, I hope Rainbow Dash doesn’t break her wing,” Fluttershy said, worried. “That would be terrible.”
Rainbow Dash broke her wing later that day, but that was a completely different story. Celestia’s sun continued across the sky while Derpy proceeded with her mail round at her usual sedate pace, and as the mighty sky-orb went to roost on the horizon, she returned home for dinner.
“Now, girls,” the Hooves matriarch said once they had finished their meals. “Did anything interesting happen today?” She turned toward Dinky, who was bouncing in her seat with excitement. “Yes, Dinky?”
“I think Twist has a crush on Truffle!” Dinky cried.
“That’s sweet, kiddo,” Sparkler said. She gave her sister a ruffle. “Not really useful, though.”
“Hmm… Scootaloo tried to get a cutie mark in rotoscoping during recess, but she failed,” Dinky continued, thinking as hard as she could to come up with something noteworthy. “Oh! An’ Silver Spoon had a rilly expensive silver necklace she got from her daddy! Diamond Tiara tried rilly, rilly hard to look like she wasn’t jealous. Silver said her daddy had bought a new mine and bought her a present to celebrate.”
“Oh, so Silver Sterling made a good investment, then?” Derpy said, fascinated.
“Probably a silver mine,” Sparkler said. “Found an unexpected deposit, likely to pay off really well in the near future.”
Derpy grinned. Had she mentioned how very proud she was of Sparkler?
“Anyway, you heard most of my stuff at Rarity’s,” Sparkler continued. “Ruby dresses, running out of rubies, Rarity fearing that the Canterlot crowd is forgetting her. Oh, and Lyra and Colgate are going to be bridesmaids along with some college friend of theirs in Canterlot, but I didn’t get much out of that.”
“Oh, a Canterlot wedding?” Derpy asked. “See if you can find out more, won’t you? You never know, it might be something big.”
“So…” Dinky said, grinning. “Have we earned a trip to Canterlot?”
Derpy laughed. “Okay, okay! I’ll get to it.”
A while later, Derpy retreated to her study. She retrieved a fresh piece of paper, dipped her quill in ink, and started to write.
Dear Fancy Pants,
Here is my latest report on Ponyville events.
Sapphire Shores has recently commissioned a set of dresses themed in red and rubies. I think Fleur will agree with me when I say that this will definitely set certain trends rolling, so we’ll have a chance to get in first and invest, as usual. Contingent on this is that Rarity has enough supplies to finish the order; she is very low on rubies. Make sure some end up in her hooves in some inconspicuous way; you know best how. Also, do invite her back to Canterlot and show her around town again. Her star power might be waning, and you know how good she is at making waves with the right opportunity.
An unexpectedly successful cider sale at Sweet Apple Acres has left them with a dearth of sellable apples. Prices on rare cultivars will definitely rise. This also means an increased sale in other vegetables in the Ponyville and Canterlot region. I’ll leave it up to you to make the requisite purchases. I’m sure there’s opportunities for everypony to gain on. The opportunity will only last for a while, so act quickly.
Silver Sterling of the Silver family recently obtained something worthwhile, presumably a well-paying silver mine. They’ll probably try to keep it quiet so as to avoid shifting silver prices too much. I’ll leave it to you to decide what to do about this.
Rainbow Dash is definitely going to become a Wonderbolt, likely within a year. Make absolutely certain that all the merchandise is ready to go when it happens. I’ll make sure we get green light from her on this.
That’s about it at the moment. There’s some kind of wedding being planned in Canterlot and some local girls will be attending, but I don’t know yet if it’s something we can profit from. If you hear about it, let me know.
Also, my daughters would love to visit the capital later. What do you say we have a little outing?
Your friend and associate,
Derpy carefully rolled up the paper and sealed it. She then retrieved a candle from the desk drawer and lit it with a tinderbox. The flame burned a lovely emerald green. Dragonfire candles were really, really expensive, but they did offer quick and secure messaging across great distances, in case you, for instance, needed to send a letter to a business associate in Canterlot. For instance.
She fed the scroll to the flame; it turned into ashes and floated off out the window.
It was a curious arrangement, but extremely profitable. Fancy Pants had the money and the connections to make all sorts of investments and deals, but he didn’t have the insight – the hoof on the pulse – on what was happening in other parts of Equestria outside of Canterlot.
Derpy, on the other hoof, was right in the middle of Ponyville, and could observe everything that went on with nopony the wiser. After all, she was a mailpony, so she was expected to be out and about. And she was Derpy Hooves, who was loopy, and clumsy, and friendly. Ponies trusted her, and they talked to her. And they never thought twice about why she asked funny questions or showed up in funny places, because she was Derpy.
And so she – as well as several other ponies doing the same job across Equestria – gleaned a few secrets and caught a few trends early, while Fancy Pants turned all those tidbits of information into profitable investments and endeavors. The lifeblood of finance flowed and strengthened Equestria, and if a steady flow of bits landed in their purses, so what? Derpy looked forward to a well-funded retirement once she decided to get out of the game, and Dinky deserved the best education money could buy. And when Sparkler finally decided on a career, she’d need a nest egg to get started with.
It wasn’t a bad arrangement. Over all, everypony became a little richer. Although mostly Derpy, Fancy, and their associates.
It was, indeed, the best job in Equestria.