Rummage Rapture
written by Sugarberry

"Are we there yet?" asked Tabby as she, Sugarberry, Chocolate Chip, Tiffany, and Tamara walked briskly along the well-traveled path that led to Friendship Gardens. Today was the day of the big village-wide rummage sale, and the girls were on their way to search out the best bargains.

"It won't be much farther," replied Sugarberry. "We should see Friendship Gardens around the next corner."

"Oh! Oh! I can't wait to see what neat toys I'll find today!" Tabby jabbered excitedly. "Maybe I'll find a plush Pitterpat, or a Blow-Kiss Lemon Meringue, or..." Here, Tabby got a far-away, dreamy look on her face. "...a Tweeg puppet!"

Tamara shook her head. "You really shouldn't waste all your time on collecting all these toys, Tabby. You're simply running out of room in your house."

"I wouldn't be if you'd move out," Tabby retorted. Her cousin had shown up unexpectedly on her doorstep months ago, and seemed to have no desire to find a place of her own. Tamara ignored Tabby's remark.

"Are you sure I'll find some valuable jewelry pieces?" worried Tiffany. "I mean, no one puts their diamonds out at a rummage sale, do they?"

Chocolate Chip giggled. "That the fun of it, Tiffany-- not knowing what you might run into."

"That's right," agreed Sugarberry. "It's really quite an adventure."

"Oh! Oh!" squealed Tabby again, pointing excitedly. "It's a sign!"

"Don't tell me you're superstitious, Tabby," reprimanded Tamara. "No chance happening is going to predict your luck today."

"What are you talking about, Tamara? The first orange rummage sign is posted up ahead," explained Tabby as she broke into a fast trot.

"That would be Berry Bright's house," said Sugarberry. "She always has some good deals."

By the time the ponies reached the array of items for sale, Tabby had already covered the entire sale and found one He-Man book and cassette mint in package and a quilted Strawberry Shortcake wall-hanging. Sugarberry found two mystery novels and a bird-watching book, while Chocolate Chip purchased a turquoise hair ribbon. Tamara and Tiffany glanced over the jewelry laid out neatly on a table. "I just paid thirty-five jangles for a gold bracelet like that," whispered Tiffany to Tamara. "Berry Bright's selling hers for one jangle."

"Cool," answered Tamara. "I think I'll buy that."

Soon, everyone was ready to head on down the road to the next sale. Typically, Tabby was in the lead. As they neared the colorful rummage site, a precious baby pony stepped forward. "Lemonade for sa-wo," she announced expectantly. "On-ee five jing-lets!"

Tabby passed her by to head straight for a large box piled high with toys of all kinds. While she was digging through the assortment of treasures, Sugarberry, Tamara, Chocolate Chip, and Tiffany enjoyed a glass of lukewarm, sugary lemonade from Baby Sweet Berry, Sweet Berry and Spic-and-Span's enterprising filly.

"Tabby, wouldn't you like a drink?" prodded Sugarberry. "Only five jinglets, and it'll make a baby pony happy."

"Nope... too busy," mumbled Tabby from deep within the box. When she finally reached the bottom, she stood up with a My Little People doll clutched in her hoof. After paying, she gloated to her friends as they moved on. "This is one of the rarest of the early My Little People, and I only had to pay ten jinglets for it!" Tabby trotted joyfully onward.

"I can't keep up with that pony," complained Sugarberry to Chocolate Chip. "My hooves are hurting already."

"She's a pony with a mission," agreed Chocolate Chip.

By the time they caught up with Tabby, she was buying several more My Little People dolls; but her mood had dipped, and she appeared angry. As she approached Sugarberry, she hissed heatedly, "Why, Sugarberry, do baby ponies insist on printing their names on their My Little People with permanent marker? Why, I ask you!" She stamped her hoof on the ground irritably.

"Settle down, Tabby!" soothed Sugarberry. "At least you are finding some."

"Yes, Tabby," Tiffany added. "I haven't found a single treasure yet."

"Come on, girls!" urged Tamara. "There's a really big one up ahead."

Several ponies had obviously joined forces on this particular site, and the lawn was covered in tables loaded down with clothes, toys, dishes, books, jewelry, and other items too numerous to mention.

Sugarberry headed to the books, Tabby to toys, Tiffany to jewelry, Chocolate Chip to the baked goods, and Tamara to the larger items at the edge of the yard. After perusing piles of books, Sugarberry found a copy of Mark Twain's Joan of Arc; she had been hunting for this book for years. Excitedly, she headed for Morning Glory, who was collecting the payments.

As she dug through her purse for a jangle, Sugarberry became aware of a tiny pink pony crying loudly by one of the tables. "Mama," stuttered the distraught baby between wails, "Mama, me want! Me want!" The little one pointed in the general direction of where Sugarberry stood waiting for change.

She doesn't want my book, does she? wondered Sugarberry to herself as she turned to see what else might have caught the baby's attention. "Why, Tabby, it's you!" Sugarberry was surprised to find her friend behind her in line. Tabby held a pastel plastic case that, when opened, revealed an intricate miniature castle complete with tiny inhabitants. The baby pony was crying even harder now, and it dawned on Sugarberry that the Polly Pocket clasped in Tabby's hoof was exactly what the heart-broken foal wanted.

"Tabby," whispered Sugarberry into Tabby's ear, "you didn't take that toy away from that sad little tot, did you?"

Tabby's round, innocent eyes flashed a "Who, me?" look at Sugarberry as she paid for her Lilliputian playset. When finished, she pulled Sugarberry down the path. "Tabby..." began Sugarberry again.

"It's this way, Sugarberry," Tabby explained. "That baby pony was looking at this..." She held up the diminutive castle smugly. "...but she set it down to go get her mom..."

"And you took it from her?"

"You're not listening to me," Tabby persisted. "The toy was on the table. If she wanted it that badly, she should have held on to it."

"But you knew..."

"Besides, it's for her own good. Small parts, you know, and she's under three."

Sugarberry sighed. "Well, I guess you're right about that, but the baby is so sad." She looked toward the pony, still whimpering at her mother's side.

"And think about it, Sugarberry. How many times did that happen to me down through the years?"

Sugarberry thought back to some equally difficult times in Tabby's rummaging career, and acquiesced.

As the two ponies waited for the others, Tabby began complaining, "I'm thirsty!"

"You should have had some lemonade back at Sweet Berry's," suggested Sugarberry.

"I wasn't thirsty then," countered Tabby curtly. "I'm going on ahead. See ya!" she called with a wave of her hoof.

Sugarberry lingered until Chocolate Chip, Tamara, and Tiffany had made their purchases. Tiffany was thrilled to have found an antique gold brooch embedded with creamy white pearls. "This will be perfect with by blue velvet cape!" she cooed.

Tamara found a cat carrier. "Can't have too many of these!" she justified as she joined the group.

Chocolate Chip finally appeared carrying an old, hand-woven throw rug. Seeing the questioning glances of her friends, her only comment was, "Don't ask." But, after following behind the pack silently for a couple of moments, she exclaimed, "I know what there is about this tattered old rug-- it reminds me of my grandmother's house!"

Sugarberry nodded approvingly. "That's good, Chocolate Chip. It's comforting to have a memento of the past."

Chocolate Chip hugged the rug to her and closed her eyes. "I can almost smell her cookies baking!" Her eyes opened expressively. "Chocolate chip cookies, of course!"

Everyone giggled at this reference to a once painful connotation given to the slender brown mare with brown mane and tail and a chocolate chip symbol.

"I wish I had a cookie and some lemonade right now!" grieved Tabby sorrowfully as they finally caught up with her. "I'm going to wilt away if I don't get a drink soon!"

They visited Tipsy Tulip's sale and Sky Skimmer's, each finding some little trinket to buy, but no lemonade for Tabby. To make matters worse, Tabby tripped over a rough spot in the path and scraped her knee and hoof on the sharp stones.

"Tabby, what happened?" worried Sugarberry as she helped her friend to a sitting position. She dabbed at the scraped and bleeding spots on Tabby's leg with her handkerchief while Tabby fumed about this needless delay in her day.

"How did you happen to fall?" asked Tiffany.

"I was just walking along and-- boom-- suddenly, I was half dead," explained Tabby.

"You should have been watching where you were going!" rebuffed Tamara unsympathetically.

Tabby shot Tamara a spiteful glance as she eased herself up to a standing position. She assured Sugarberry that she was ready to continue to the next sale.

"Hey! Look!" brightened Tabby as Ivy's house came into view with a refreshment table set-up out front. "Finally, I can get something to drink!"

Ivy was delighted to see her Dream Valley friends. "Tabby, what happened to your knee?" she quizzed.

So, while the girls revived themselves with ice cold milk and Ivy's chocolate turtle cookies, Ivy applied Band-Aids to all of Tabby's cuts and scrapes.

"Now I know how all my patients feel," reflected Tabby, wincing from the still stinging sores.

"Maybe you should have Toby clean those wounds when we get back to Dream Valley," suggested Sugarberry.

"Only if it's not too late," said Tiffany quickly. "Toby and I are dining at the Estate Manor this evening," she clarified.

"That reminds me... I've got the most gorgeous evening gown for sale," Ivy hinted. She walked to the clothesline where the clothing was displayed, and returned with a beige lace-and-satin dress.

"Oh! It's beautiful!" cooed Sugarberry

"I hate the color beige," sniffed Tiffany. "It does nothing for me."

Ivy held the dress up to Tabby. "It would look really nice on you, Tabby," she urged. "Beige lace becomes you."

Tabby rolled her eyes aggravatedly and slipped away to browse through the other articles laid out for sale.

Having wandered off to admire Ivy's flower garden, Tamara now returned to the scene. She admired the cut and quality of the garment Ivy held, but shared Tiffany's sentiment. "If it were in purple or pink, I'd be interested," she informed Ivy, "but beige? Not for me."

Standing in the background, Chocolate Chip now shyly stepped forward. "I like the dress, Ivy. How much is it?"

Ivy looked at the delicate, well-proportioned pony before her and envisioned this brown beauty swirling across the dance floor in the forelegs of a Brilliant Brother at some college party, and smiled while removing the ten jangle price sticker. "One jangle..."

Chocolate Chip's eyes lit up. "That's super!"

But Ivy continued, "...and a picture of you wearing it."

As Chocolate Chip blushed at this special attention, Sugarberry stepped in. "I'll make sure you get a picture. She'll be the belle of the ball! The only question will be, ‘Which lucky brother will be at her side?' "

Thoroughly flustered now, Chocolate Chip fumbled through her backpack for a jangle, and sealed the bargain with Ivy. "Thanks, Ivy," she whispered. "This is the prettiest dress I've ever owned."

"Now, here's something worth buying," rang out Tabby's voice as she held up a pink plush Care Bear.

This time is was Ivy's turn to roll her eyes. "I think Thomas would have preferred that you buy the party dress, Tabby, instead of another doll," she teased.

"No way," insisted Tabby. "Eighties' toys are the way to go! Besides, this isn't a doll; it's a Care Bear. Get your facts straight!"

On that note, the merry entourage set off down the path to continue its quest for discarded mementos and merchandise. The last stop was Clever Clover's home at the edge of Friendship Gardens.

"This one doesn't look like it has anything. Let's pass it by," Tabby urged.

"You know full well this is Clever Clover's house, Tabby. We've got to check it out," Sugarberry said reprovingly.

"Yes, yes... Cleve Clove!" Tabby called as she started trotting up to the yard. She waved her hoof in greeting. Once at a rummage, Tabby never ran out of energy, so she enthusiastically began rooting through the piles of books, artifacts, tools, and gear that Clever Clover had heaped around his yard.

Tamara, Tiffany, and Chocolate Chip were satisfied with their finds of the morning, so they hung back while Tabby did her searching. Sugarberry was attracted to a finch-feeder that Clever Clover was getting rid of. "I never can remember to refill it," he admitted as Sugarberry paid him her last jangle of the day.

Tamara laughed. "Sounds like Tabby and her forgetfulness in feeding Callie. Right, Tabby?" But Tabby was on the far side of the yard going through a stack of childrens' books.

To pass the time away, Tamara gingerly picked through some items in a free box, partially hidden under a canvas satchel. Chocolate Chip joined her while Tiffany perched on a wooden stool and admired her pearl brooch.

Tamara pulled out a dark and ominous plush object from the box and held it up for Chocolate Chip to see. "This is thoroughly disgusting," she complained.

"What is it, anyway?" questioned Chocolate Chip as she took the thing from Tamara's hoof. It was green and purple with evil yellow eyes. "It looks spooky, whatever it is."

"Maybe it's a dinosaur," concluded Tamara knowledgeably.

"You know what? I think it was meant to be a puppet," suggested Chocolate Chip as she pulled the monstrosity over her hoof.

At that moment, Tabby returned from across the yard and surveyed the tableau before her. Her gaze came to rest on Chocolate Chip and her covered hoof. After blinking her eyes several times in surprise and letting out a shriek of joy, Tabby stopped and raised her forelegs high into the air.

"Ah, Tweeg," she soliloquized. "I've found you!" Rushing up to a completely baffled Chocolate Chip, Tabby grabbed the strange puppet off her friend's hoof and clutched it dramatically to her chest. She closed her eyes and stood still, smiling contentedly.

Chocolate Chip, Sugarberry, Tiffany, Tamara, and Clever Clover gaped in amazement. "What's going on?" wondered Clever Clover at last.

Tabby came out of her silent reverie and into an extremely high-pitched and excited explanation. "This is the Tweeg puppet I've been searching for ever-so-long-- well, since earlier this year, at least. He was the villain in the Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, ya know. He's very cool, even if he is a villain. He's good at heart, though, I think-- being half troll and all, he really can't help but be evil. I simply adore Tweeg. He's my absolute favorite character out of Teddy Ruxpin. It's a great show. They should really bring it back. TWEEG IS SO COOL!!!" Here, Tabby turned the puppet towards her friends, who stared at the green face blankly. "As Tweeg would say, ‘I feel a song coming on.' But don't worry; I won't sing because I can't sing in front of other ponies. That doesn't mean I can't sing, because I can. I can sing ‘La la la' in public though. But I feel like singing the Pokčmon theme song, or something. I found Tweeg. I can't believe it!!!!" Stopping for a second, something striking her consciousness, she asked, "Cleve Clove, why didn't you ever tell me you had a Tweeg puppet? You knew I wanted one. And you were going to get rid of him at a rummage sale! How could you, Cleve Clove?" Tabby looked closely at Tweeg and smiled. "My very own Tweeg puppet. I'm so happy. I must be the happiest pony alive. Since I'm in such a generous mood right now, Cleve Clove, I'll pay you instead of walking off and forgetting. How much?"

Clever Clover gulped nervously. "Well, actually..."

"It was in the free box," squealed Tamara hysterically.

Tabby cast a withering glance in Clever Clover's direction. She opened her mouth to say something, but no words came. She simply and silently set off for home, Tweeg in hoof. And her friends fell in step behind her.

* * *

"I've found a recipe for turning buttermilk into gold," the Tweeg puppet declared as Tabby and a tableful of friends congregated the next evening at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe. "L.B, we're going to be rich!"

"Tweeg, would you mind sharing that recipe with us poor ponies?" asked Thomas mischievously.

Tabby's Tweeg-covered hoof swatted Thomas playfully. "Yes, I would mind. But I have a potion I'll sell you cheap." Tweeg's yellow eyes glinted shrewdly... or so Tabby imagined. However, sighing, she set the puppet down on the table. "I believe I can't do Tweeg's lines right. Maybe I'll start talking like Jessiebelle instead."

Clever Clover groaned. "No! Please, don't!"

Sugarberry giggled.

Clever Clover finally spoke up. "Tabby, I swear I didn't know that was the precious Tweeg puppet you were looking for."

"That's right," agreed Spike. "If he'd have known, he'd have put an extravagant price on it!"

"Yeah, yeah!" echoed Friendly. "Lots of jangles, yeah!"

"I heard you had it out for free, Clever Clover," taunted Quarterback uncompassionately. "How'd you ever end up with that ugly thing, anyway?"

"Tweeg's not ugly," corrected Tabby before Clever Clover could reply. "He's cool." She waved the puppet in Quarterback's face.

Merry Moments agreed. "There's something debonair about Tweeg."

"That might explain what she sees in you, Quarterback," joked Clever Clover. The other ponies laughed.

" ‘Fess up, Clever Clover," prodded Vanguard. "What were you doing with a Tweeg puppet?"

"My mom had me move a bunch of boxes out of her house last month when she was cleaning-- she said it was all stuff I'd left behind when I got my own place."

"So you played with Tweeg when you were little?" asked Merry Moments. "How sweet!"

"Actually, I never had such a thing," Clever Clover frowned as he looked at the green figure in a purple cloak. "GoBots were more my style. Mom must have picked him up somewhere."

"It must have been fate, Tabby," concluded Sugarberry. "You and Tweeg, together at last!"

At that line, Thomas raised his eyebrows and shook his head. "Please, Sugarberry, don't put ideas in her head. I don't want to be dumped for a green-skinned villain."

Not one to leave a snide remark unsaid, Quarterback darted a sideways glance at Vanguard and asserted, "Green, blue... it's all the same."

Vanguard ignored the remark but cupped Sugarberry's hoof in his own, and winked at Merry Moments, who, in turn, patted Quarterback's hoof gently.

Tabby looked at her circle of friends and grinned. "Tweeg would like to say a few words." She raised her puppet to the center of the table, and cleared her throat.

"Friends," Tweeg began-- however, his voice had a thick, Southern accent to it this time-- and then paused for effect. "I feel a song coming on!"

"Any more of that Jessiebelle stuff, and I won't record Pokčmon for you any more!" Clever Clover warned. "And don't you dare start singing!" He grabbed the Tweeg puppet off Tabby's hoof.

"Hey! Give him back!" Tabby shrieked in her normal voice.

"Only if you promise not to sing, or talk like Jessiebelle."

"Okay, promise. Just give him back." Tabby reached across the table and managed to whack Clever Clover and recover Tweeg in one smooth motion.

"Now, now, children!" clucked Sugarberry in a motherly voice. "Act your ages!"

Tabby, Clever Clover, Spike, Vanguard, Friendly, Thomas, Merry Moments, and Quarterback chimed out in unison-- "What's the fun in that?" --and broke out in spirited laughter (lucky for Tabby, Clever Clover had not noticed the Southern accent that had chimed in).

Sugarberry groaned and lifted her hooves in mock dismay. "Why do I even try?"

But Tweeg got in the last word. "All I've ever wanted is to be rich, and with all you insane ponies around, I think I am!"

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