My Little Pony Monthly Issue 55 (October 1, 2001)

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Issue 55
October 2001

The management and staff at My Little Pony Monthly wish to offer our prayers for the victims of September 11's tragedy, our sympathy to their friends and families, and our praise for the many heroes. May God bless them all, and may He bless this great country of ours.


Hello, readers of MLP Monthly! Now, I know that this is a story, but let me make a brief announcement. Hopefully in this edition of MLP Monthly and in the ones to come, there will be a section about Pony Town, where my MLPs live. I hope it won’t bore you. But for now, let’s get on with this story, shall we?

New Pony in Town
by Baby Jedi ~.^ (

Part One

The cold autumn wind blew through the empty streets. Many ponies stayed huddled by fires or whatever they had to keep warm in their houses. Yet a small group of baby ponies still kept playing outside. Baby Paws ran up, interrupting their leaf pile jumping. He waited about two seconds before he spoke.

“Hey!” he said. “Wanna go down to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe?”

“Heck, no,” said Baby Graffiti, scowling. “One would think even you’d be smart enough to realize it’s COLD out, Baby Paws,” she snapped.

“Yeah, well Scoops is selling some stuff like hot chocolate, fresh baked cookies, and sundaes with steamin’ HOT FUDGE on ‘em! Come on and let’s GO!” Baby Paws said energetically.

The group ran all the way to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe. It wasn’t packed yet; the word hadn’t really gotten out yet. “Hiya, Scoops!” Baby Paws said, bouncing up to the pony. “Wazzap!”

Scoops raised an eyebrow and grinned. “I’ll take that as a ‘watcha got for me to wolf down’, by the way you’re looking at those cookies.”

“They do look good.” Baby Graffiti admitted, being polite. “I’m sure they taste delicious.”

“Why, thank you, Baby Graffiti,” Scoops smiled. “Here! Each of you can have two free cookies.” The baby ponies picked up the cookies and sat on the floor, as was their custom.

Baby Paws bit a huge bite out of his cookie. “Mmmm,” he murmured. “Nothin’ like a warm cookie to end a cool fall Friday. A whole school week behind us!”

Baby Graffiti bit into hers. “Of course,” she said, “for us, it’s just a school week. For you, it’s that, and a week off after school detention.”

“Hey!” Baby Paws said. “So? Big deal.” He bit off the rest of his first cookie.

Baby Graffiti looked over to Baby Leaper. She secretly liked him, but only she and Baby Ribbon knew that. Baby Ribbon liked Baby Countdown, who Baby Cotton Candy said got on her nerves. One day I’ll ask Baby Leaper out to the Sweet Shoppe, just me and him, thought Baby Graffiti. Even though HE should be asking ME.

Just then, a small lone figure walked up. She was a baby pony. Her pink hair was braided, and her eyes were looking at the ground. “Yo, wazzap!” called Baby Paws.

The pink baby pony’s head jerked up. Her eyes were cornflower blue; her tail swished out of the way of her symbol, revealing it to be a blue and pink doll. She stooped for a second, then looked away and walked on.

“Okay, be that way!” yelled Baby Paws, causing the girl to run off.

Baby Graffiti grabbed Baby Paws by his coat collar. “Brat!” she snapped. “You stupid nincompoop! Just ‘cause she didn’t say ‘wazzap’ back doesn’t mean you can go ahead acting rude__ and not to mention STUPID!”

“Okay, Okay, lay off. Gosh!” Baby Paws said. “Hey, Scoops, how ‘bout the full thing?”

“Got the money?”

“Yeah, I do...” Baby Paws and the others gave Scoops their money, and got treats back. Baby Paws dipped one of his four chocolate chip cookies into his hot chocolate and bit into it. Baby Graffiti asked Scoops to hold her order, and then said to her pals, “I’ll be right back!”

She trotted off in the direction that the girl with cornflower blue eyes had gone. She finally saw her, sitting under a tree, crying. “Hi there!” called Baby Graffiti. The girl jumped to her hooves, alarmed.

“Hi!” Baby Graffiti said again. “What’s your name? Mine’s Baby Graffiti.”

The girl walked up. “My name’s Baby Sweet Stuff. Hi,” she said, nodding.

Baby Graffiti noticed that she had an Australian accent. “How are you?”

“Fine, thanks,” Baby Sweet Stuff answered, nodding again.

“Would you like to come with me to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe? I PROMISE I’ll make sure Baby Paws won’t say another mean thing. Or he’ll get hit in the kisser...”

Baby Sweet Stuff shifted uncomfortably. “I... don’t know,” she said softly, almost whispering.

Baby Graffiti frowned. “Please?” Baby Sweet Stuff still looked unsure. “Scoops has some yummy things she’s serving now,” Baby Graffiti pressed gently. “I’ll buy you something if you like.”

At that, Baby Sweet Stuff’s eyes lit up, revealing their true beauty as the autumn sun reflected in them, lighting up the cornflower blue in them. “You would?” she gasped in delight.

“Sure!” Baby Graffiti winked. “Now let’s go before everything’s all gone.” And with that, the two girls rushed off in the direction of the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe.

Part 2

The Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe was crowded by the time Baby Graffiti and Baby Sweet Stuff got back. Baby Graffiti introduced them all, and then went to pick up her order and to get Baby Sweet Stuff something.

Everyone was happily seated when Baby Cotton Candy ran up. “Sorry I’m late!” she said. She was then introduced to Baby Sweet Stuff. “Ooh, you’re Australian?” asked Baby Cotton Candy with interest.

“Yes,” answered Baby Sweet Stuff. “I am.”

“Cool!” Baby Cotton Candy said, getting her stuff. “How long have you been here? One day? Two?”

“A week,” answered Baby Sweet Stuff, sipping her hot chocolate.

“A week?! I’ve never seen you!” gasped Baby Cotton Candy in surprise.

“Calm yourself, Cotty!” Baby Ribbon commanded. “Or I shall steal all your cookies! BWEAHAHAhahaHAAA! Scared yet?”

They all collapsed in fits of giggles. Suddenly, a cold wind blew. “Oh my gosh! That’s freezing!” yelped Baby Paws.

They laughed, and sat around until it was time to go home.


The Red Mare
by Tabby and Sugarberry ( and

“You’re late again.”

The young red mare only grinned. “You know I work twice as efficiently as anyone else around here; you’re still getting your jangles worth.”

The orange stallion could not deny the truth of her statement, but he was the boss. “It would look better if you’d arrive on time.”

“Whatever you say, Wigwam,” the mare retorted with a flip of her mane, but both of them knew she would continue to be late as usual. She moved toward the casino office.

“Oh, and Garland,” Wigwam called after her, “I’m promoting you to office manager.”

Garland did not look back, but she did respond. “It’s about time.” If Wigwam could have seen her face, however, he would have seen a pleased smile on her lips and an added sparkle in her eyes.

* * *
“Hi, Fern,” Garland greeted the pony behind the counter at Lemon Treat’s Boutique.

“Garland! I found what you were looking for.” She rummaged under the counter, eventually reappearing with a floppy jersey hat.

“That’s exactly what I wanted! Where did you come across it?”

“Lemon Treats has some outdated stuff in the back room; I rummage through it once in awhile to see what’s still there.”

“How much will it cost me?”

“Lemon Treats said she will be glad to be rid of it.”

“You mean she’s giving it to me?”

“Sure. Now we have more space for something that will sell.”

“This is awfully nice of both of you.”

“That’s what friends are for,” Fern smiled.

“What time do you get off today?”

“Not until five.”

“I’ll be at the casino by then; I was hoping I could treat you to lunch.”

“You’re off tomorrow night; how about joining Toby and I at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe?” Fern asked quickly as more customers came into the shop.

“What time?” Garland queried, and they soon had their plans made. Leaving Fern to her duties, Garland next stopped at Bushwoolie Bargain Books to touch base with Chocolate Chip. “Any new thrillers on the shelves?” she asked of the slender, brown pony.

“Several,” Chocolate Chip verified. “And Sugarberry’s latest mystery just came in.”

“Have you read it?”

“When it was still in the manuscript stage. It’s good, even though she was working on it through the time of her wedding-- it got a bit on the romantic side.”

“Nothing wrong with a little romance,” argued Garland.

“Speaking of which, do you have any particular stallion in mind?”

“No, and I’m not looking for one, either.”

“If you change your mind, there are any number of available... and cute... stallions at Pony Pride.”

“Your brother attends classes there, right?”

Chocolate Chip grinned. “Yes, as does Petal.”

“I was just curious,” Garland avowed, seeing the look of amusement settle across Chocolate Chip’s face.

“Wishbone met Petal at Sugarberry and Vanguard’s wedding last summer, and he’s been sappy ever since. Not that I’m complaining; he’s really a great brother to have.”

“I wouldn’t know about that.”

“No brothers of your own?” Chocolate Chip asked, but was interrupted with a customer’s question before she got an answer from Garland, for which Garland was relieved. She slipped off to the side until Chocolate Chip had a free moment, then mentioned the engagement with Fern and Toby at the ice cream shop.

“Wigwam and I’ll be there, too,” Chocolate Chip informed her, “and probably half of the town.”

“Sounds like fun.”

Garland left the mall mulling over Chocolate Chip’s question: No brothers of your own? She did not want to admit that her brothers were in no way in the same league as Wishbone.

* * *
Garland had recently settled in Dream Valley and had responded to an ad for help at Wigwam’s Casino in the paper that she had picked up while lunching at the Cafe Carousel. She was looking for work, and the atmosphere of the casino had appealed to her outgoing nature. She knew she could do well there, and Wigwam had obviously agreed. He hired her on the spot.

Working at the casino had introduced Garland to many of the inhabitants of Dream Valley, and she found them to be a friendly and caring bunch. Chocolate Chip often visited Wigwam at work, and she and Garland were becoming good friends. Wishbone and Petal had also taken a liking to this well-traveled and good-natured pony; more than once, Wishbone had found himself watching the attractive red mare as she went about her business, and he admitted to his sister that he had a strange and elusive feeling that he had met her somewhere before.

The next evening when Butch was in charge of the casino, Wigwam and Chocolate Chip gathered with Garland, Wishbone, Petal, Fern, and Toby at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe. The ice cream parlor was crowded with ponies: Tabby and Thomas along with the little Faline were sharing the day’s events with Elaine, Sugarberry, and Vanguard. Tex was there with Gingerbread, Quarterback with Merry Moments. Clever Clover and Morning Glory were at a corner table; Friendly, Spike, Cheery, and Baby Noddins were arguing over the latest Superspritz toy collection.

Garland listened to the talk around her; she had always held off from making close friends, but she found this group to be irresistible. They were straightforward and interested in her life and concerns, and she found that she rather enjoyed the camaraderie. She looked up now from her sundae to find Wishbone’s eyes on her. She smiled at the rose-red stallion with the golden hair.

“Garland, I hear that Wigwam and Butch have finally realized your true potential.”

With a wink at Wigwam, Garland concurred. “They’re learning, anyway.”

“Wigwam’s just glad he doesn’t have to balance the books,” Chocolate Chip added.

“What does he do over there?” Toby asked. “Every time I’ve been at the casino, he’s just wandering around talking to the patrons.”

“That’s very important,” defended Wigwam. “It instills customer confidence. You should try it with your patients.”

“He won my confidence, now, didn’t he?” observed Fern.

“Some ponies are gullible,” shot back Wigwam with a smile.

Petal turned to Wishbone. “I’ve got to get a message to Vanguard and Sugarberry from my mom. I’ll be right back.” The light-pink pony left the table.

“Does anybody need anything from the counter?” asked Chocolate Chip, taking advantage of the break in conversation.

“More coffee. How about you, Fern?” Toby asked.

“It think I’d like one of those warm brownies covered in chocolate gooey stuff,” Fern replied, pushing back her chair. “You should try one, too.”

“I know what that would do to a body,” responded Toby.

“Sounds good,” Wigwam grinned.

As it turned out, Wishbone and Garland were left at the table alone; Wishbone switched chairs to sit next to the scarlet beauty. “Chocolate Chip tells me you have an idea for a winning costume for the Halloween party.”

“An idea, yes. The problem is finding the right components. It’s catch as catch can, but I’ll manage.” Wishbone looked at Garland curiously. “What did I say?” the mare asked, feeling suddenly self-conscious under this scrutinizing gaze.

“ ‘Catch as catch can’,” Wishbone repeated her earlier words. “I’ve only heard that phrase once before, by a stallion I used to know.” He looked long into her violet eyes, remembering the dark-coated Sable who had befriended him for all the wrong reasons. What was there about this filly that brought those days back to mind?

“Petal’s trying to get your attention,” Garland broke through Wishbone’s thoughts; he tore his eyes from the violet ones unwillingly.

* * *
The gathering was breaking up, and ponies were saying their goodnights outside the ice cream shop. Faline was fast asleep in her father’s safe embrace; Tabby was telling Sugarberry and Elaine about an experience earlier that day: “Shelby told me to walk the plank! Isn’t that hilarious?” Clever Clover was expounding on the dig in the Dark Forest to an interested group.

Chocolate Chip, Wishbone, Petal, Fern, and Garland were together under the new neon sign that Scoops had added to her shop front... a brightly colored ice cream sundae with a red cherry on top. The young ponies were making plans for a Halloween get-together, and they were deep into their discussion.

Wigwam, looking toward the exuberant bunch, sought out Chocolate Chip but found his attention arrested by Garland. The glow of the neon light played across her side and for an instant revealed the subtle outline of a design under the holly wreath symbol that decorated her red body. The hidden symbol flashed into Wigwam’s memory with startling clarity; and his heart sank, for it was the symbol of a mare whose file he had seen at the police chief’s office earlier in the year.

The ponies had moved away from the neon light, and Garland’s holly was the only thing visible after that brief and unexpected chance circumstance of the play of light falling in such a manner as to highlight the concealed design; and Wigwam wished he had not looked her way in that moment. Garland had settled into her life in Dream Valley to the delight of all who met her; uncovering her secret could only bring grief now to all concerned.

* * *
It was late before Wigwam had a chance to talk to Chocolate Chip alone; they were on the front porch of Sugarberry and Vanguard’s house where both Chocolate Chip and Wishbone were resident boarders. It was time to say goodnight, but Wigwam procrastinated; and Chocolate Chip realized that something was bothering him.

“What’s wrong?” she inquired.

The stallion did not answer immediately; he led the mare to the porch swing and waited until they were both seated before he began. Brittle leaves swirled around their hooves as the wind crossed the porch. “It was a year ago that the cheating scam was building up.”

“I remember.” It was a personal catastrophe, causing her to lose her sense of trust in the stallion she had learned to love and leading to many months of estrangement between the two of them before the issue was resolved.

“I’m going to be up-front with you on something that may lead to a similar scenario.”

Chocolate Chip stiffened. “This can’t involve Wishbone.”

“No, but possibly someone else that you’ve come to consider as a friend.”

“Who?” whispered Chocolate Chip, wishing that she would not have to hear the answer. But Wigwam had learned his lesson and would hold nothing back. “Garland.”

Chocolate Chip stared at him. “No.”

“I hope you are right. But I have my suspicions, and I have to go to Tawny with them.”

“What kind of suspicions?”

Wigwam took a deep breath. “There was a theft last spring in the Binksville museum which involved a red mare...”

“There are any number of red mares in Ponyland.”

“... a red mare with red mane and tail...”

“And Garland’s hair is forest green! It couldn’t have been her!”

“... and a precious stone, most likely a garnet, as a symbol.”

“That’s not Garland.”

“You’re right; it’s a mare named Garnet, a mare who is not above taking things that don’t belong to her.”

“So what’s your point?” Chocolate Chip asked bluntly.

“My point is that a mare can dye her hair any color she wants and change her symbol if she needs to badly enough.”

“You’re jumping to conclusions here, Wigwam. Garland wouldn’t steal; she just wouldn’t.” Garland had proven herself as a trustworthy employee at the casino even is she did ignore her scheduled starting time. Beyond that, she had become a cherished friend; Garland and Fern, along with Chocolate Chip, shared a certain closeness engendered by the bad times that had marked their lives. Chocolate Chip would not willingly let go of that friendship.

“Listen to me.” Wigwam’s voice commanded her attention. “Tonight outside the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe, the light hit Garland’s symbol in such a way as to reveal another symbol beneath it. It was a gem, a garnet.”

“You were imagining things!”

“I don’t think so; I have to talk to Tawny about it.”

Chocolate Chip left the swing and paced the wooden porch before coming back to Wigwam. “You have to do what you have to do, but I don’t agree with you that Garland has done anything wrong, ever.”

Wigwam stood to face her smoldering anger. “There’s something else you need to know. Garnet-- that’s her real name--- is Sable’s sister.”

Chocolate Chip’s anger faded to disbelief. “Sable? The one who led Wishbone into cheating on his exams?”

“The very one.”

Sitting down once more, the chocolate brown pony considered the facts. “Wishbone told me there is something about Garland that seems familiar to him.” She raised her eyes to meet Wigwam’s. “That could explain it, if she and Sable are siblings.”

* * *
The next morning found Wigwam in Chief Tawny’s office, both stallions mulling over the information provided by Binksville’s police chief, Bastian. “Change the green hair to red, and Garland becomes Garnet,” Tawny was saying.

“Under the lighting outside Scoop’s shop, she had the right symbol.”

“There’s no lack of confidence in this one,” Tawny mused. “She has a lot of nerve to pick the town where her brother has already left a negative impression.”

“Maybe she doesn’t even know about Sable’s time here; it could be coincidence that she ended up in Dream Valley.”

Tawny snorted. “It’s more feasible that she saw your casino as a profitable mark.”

“I would agree, but she’s been here long enough to have done something, if that was her plan.”

“She’s just biding her time for the biggest payoff.”

Wigwam pushed back from the desk. “I’m not so sure.”

But Tawny was. Shuffling through the papers before him, he asked, “Where is this Garnet? I’ll talk to her right now,” while at the same time beckoning one of his deputies to him.

Wigwam interfered. “She’ll be coming in to work soon, but can’t you hold off until her shift is done? I’m short-hooved as it is.”

“Who knows what may happen by tonight; Bastian wants her brought in for questioning, and so do I.”

“She’s not going to go anywhere, Tawny. And by closing time, there won’t be so many ponies around to see your intervention in her life.”

“Hey! Don’t make me out to be the bad pony. Garnet is the one who helps herself to other ponies’ property.”

“I just would prefer that she not be taken into custody like a common criminal; she has too much pride for that.”

Tawny scoffed, but he relented. “All right then. Strider, Quizzer, and I will be at the casino later; just make sure that our suspect is still there.”

* * *
Wigwam worked his way across the gaming room to where Garland was conversing with Salty. At his approach, Salty grinned at the stallion. “If you’re not careful, you’re going to find this mare running the place instead of you.”

“She’s definitely capable,” Wigwam agreed. “But what pointed that fact out to you?”

“One of your machines jammed, and Garland here was able to get it functioning again in no time. You would have just put an ‘Out of Order’ sign on it and left it for Butch to fix.”

“Butch knows what he’s doing.”

“Maybe so, but Garland is a lot prettier.” With a wink at the crimson mare, Salty went his way.

“Keep this up, and the patrons will mandate you another promotion,” Wigwam smiled at Garland.

The mare shook her hair back, dislodging the one curly lock that tended to hang across her forehead. “I’m happy with what I’m doing; I’m not going to usurp the system.”

“You’re doing a great job around here; I appreciate your conscientious work”

“You’ll get your money’s worth.”

* * *
The last two left at the casino, Wigwam and Garland were going over business tallies. Wigwam felt like a traitor knowing that Garland’s well-planned cover was going to be unveiled in a short time under the persistent questioning of Tawny; he was not looking forward to being an accomplice to her downfall when she had been such a valuable help at the casino.

Garland was at Wigwam’s desk with papers spread before her busily entering numbers in the proper columns and checking for accuracy, but she must have felt his steady gaze for she looked up from her work and smiled. “You could help, you know.”

“Sorry. With a gem like you around, I thought I wasn’t needed.” He sat down in an available chair at the side of the desk and picked up one of the sheets filled with figures. But the question he asked had nothing to do with the business at hoof. “Your color... what would you call it... garnet red?”

“Garland looked at him curiously. “Just plain red.”

“Have you been to college?

“I prefer making my own way.”

“That’s funny. I keep getting the feeling that I should know who you are; I thought maybe I saw you out in Binksville when I visited the university there.”

Looking at him more closely now, Garland was ruffled but quickly regained her confident self. “Whoever it was, it wasn’t me.”

“Maybe a sister?”

“My sister at a university? I don’t think so.”

“Maybe it was the museum; there is a rather quaint museum there, I believe-- jewelry and such.”

“I’ll have to visit it sometime.”

“Do you have any other family, Gar... land... a sable brother, perhaps?”

Garland dropped the pen from her hoof and it rolled to the floor; as she reached to pick it up, her face was hidden from Wigwam’s searching eyes, but he could guess the effect it had on her. “I’m a loner all the way,” she said in a cold voice. “And as you don’t seem to have anything better to do, I’ll leave the rest of the paperwork to you.” She stood up and walked out of the room.

Wigwam watched her departure with a sober face. As her friend, he had felt obligated to warn her of trouble ahead and hoped that she would take advantage of it to slip away before the police showed up. He did not follow Garland, not wanting to know until Tawny arrived if she had eluded him or not. He threw himself into finishing up the rest of the tallies.

* * *
The red mare had reached the back entrance when she remembered that her paycheck was still sitting in her locker in the employee’s lounge. She quickly went to recover it and her backpack and then continued on her way. Turning the corner near the door, she caught a glimpse of someone entering the casino. Immediately halting her forward motion, she hid herself from the trespasser, hoping that he would not come in her direction.

As she waited for the unknown, Garland did some thinking. Wigwam had not mentioned that he was expecting anyone to show up at this late hour of the night; and how had anyone gotten in when the doors were locked? And who was this creature, anyway? Garland closed her eyes to recollect him more clearly; what she saw was a fairly good-sized lava man, and he didn’t look like a regular customer.

Taking a cautious glimpse around the corner, Garland found the entryway clear. Which way did he go? she mentally asked herself and then noticed some burn marks in the carpeting. Following them, she caught an orange glow at the far end of the gaming room; whoever it was, he seemed to be checking the place over. Or, Garland realized, he was not sure where to find the office.

Leaning against the wall, Garland sorted through the facts available to her. Wigwam was still in his office; and some large, menacing lava creature was lurking in the casino. She was sure from his questions that Wigwam had somehow learned of her past, and she felt threatened by that knowledge. But she could not just walk out knowing that Wigwam might be in trouble. With a wry grimace, Garland retraced her steps in the direction of the main office.

* * *
Wigwam had the safe open and was depositing a hefty amount of jangles in its dark depths when he became conscious of a smouldering smell. His first reaction was that a fire had started somewhere on the premises, and he turned to check things out. What he saw caused him to stop in his tracks.

A loud, evil laugh reverberated throughout the room. “Get out of my way, little pony!” The orange lava man brandished a heavy staff in one hand and a canvas bag in the other.

“You!” he exclaimed. “Laban! I’ve seen your posters at the police office!”

Another evil laugh was emitted from the creature. “Since my lava demons have deserted me, I’ve resorted to perpetrating my own petty crimes. I need enough money to buy myself a computer and Internet connection. Maybe I can hook up with some hot babe, or at least surf eBay.”

Wigwam looked at the creature peculiarly. “So why bother stealing the jangles; go to the mall and rob the computer store.”

He roared with laughter. “Hah-hah-hah! Don’t question me, little pony! Give me the jangles!”

Wigwam brushed a hoof across his forehead. Was he dreaming? No, the sense of helplessness that he felt was real and so was the monster standing across the room from him. Where is Tawny? Wigwam wondered. The police chief should have been here by now. But there was no time to figure out what to do without Tawny’s help, for Laban was becoming impatient. He raised the staff over his head threateningly and ordered Wigwam to comply to his request.

* * *
Moving quietly down the hallway with a slender red metal canister in her hoof, Garland could tell by the orange glow emanating from Wigwam’s office that the... whatever it was... had already found what he was looking for. She warily approached the door and slowly peered around the corner. A weaker spirit would have collapsed on the spot, but Garland was made of sterner stuff. She assessed the situation immediately and reacted accordingly.

Wigwam was not cooperating with the villain’s request which only infuriated Laban. With a vicious roar, the mass of lava lunged at Wigwam with his heavy staff flailing. “You fool! I nearly became ruler of Ponyland once, and you dare to defy me?!?!?!” Laban howled.

At the same moment, Garland crashed into the room yelling “Stop” at the top of her lungs. It offset Laban enough that his rod missed the full impact on its target, preventing serious damage to Wigwam. As it was, the end of the staff grazed along Wigwam’s shoulder deeply enough to cause his orange coat to mingle with red.

“Hah-hah-hah!! Now the Internet connection will be mine!!” Laban shouted, tramping toward the safe.

Garland darted across the room to the desk and punched a code into a monitor and, to Laban’s utter dismay, the safe door automatically dropped into place, closing off the jangles that had been within such easy reach just seconds before.

A menacing growl-like sound rose from Laban’s throat as he turned to face the two little ponies, pinning Wigwam against the wall with the staff; Garland, however, was not through yet. Still clutching the fire extinguisher she had grabbed on her way to protect Wigwam, she now turned the nozzle toward Laban and had just begun spraying him down when Tawny appeared in the doorway backed by Quizzer and Strider.

“What’s goin’ on?” he gasped, seeing more than he had expected to find. The red mare who he had come to question was standing between Wigwam and the lava man, showering the orange creature with a fine white powder from the fire extinguisher in her hooves.

Tawny and his deputies surrounded Laban, with Quizzer relieving Garland of her sprayer and dousing the villain into an angry submission. Even at that, Laban was a hoof full for the three officers, and they were kept fully occupied in their efforts to restrain him.

With Tawny now in charge, Garland turned her attention to the wounded Wigwam where he had slumped into a chair. “How badly are you hurt?” she asked, while surveying the damage for herself and finding a need to stem the flow.

“I’ve been better,” he said. “That slimy oaf packs quite a punch.”

From her backpack, Garland pulled the hat that Fern had given her and used it to bind the wound effectively. Tawny, in the meantime, had Strider and Quizzer remove Laban to the hallway. “We’ve put in a call for medical assistance,” he advised the two. “Do you need any help before they arrive?” His eyes moved from Wigwam to Garland and back again.

“I’ll be fine,” Wigwam said. “Just keep that... that brute... out of my casino.”

Tawny punched the stallion on his good shoulder. “We’ll do our best,” he grinned.

Alone in the room, Wigwam fixed his gaze on Garland in open admiration. “You saved me from worse injury. Thanks.”

“No problem. I’m just glad I was here to help you.”

Wigwam’s gaze next fastened on the safe. “You knew the combination; only Butch and I are supposed to have that information.”

It was an enigmatic smile that Garland flashed at the stallion. “Maybe your security isn’t as invulnerable as you think.”

As Garland got him a glass of water from the bubbler in the corner, Wigwam did some heavy thinking. This mare who had a history of robbery behind her had somehow learned the safe’s combination in the short time she had been on his staff; she had not used that knowledge against the casino, but would she have done so in the future?

Accepting the cold drink, Wigwam asked the mare the question on his mind. “Did you have a plan similar to Laban’s?”

Garland replied with honesty. “At the beginning, yes, I suppose I did.”

“But no longer?”

“Not since I found such good friends here.”

A roar from the hallway interrupted the conversation. “Nooo!! You’ll never keep me behind bars!” Laban shouted angrily, tugging at his handcuffs. The officers ignored him as they led him out of the building and turned him over to the deputies with the waiting police cart. His mad rants continued to fill the air, however. “I was once the most powerful creature in Ponyland, before those imbecilic Bush-- NO! YOU WON’T GET AWAY WITH LOCKING ME UP!!! YOU’LL LIVE TO REGRET THIS!! YOU HAVEN’T HEARD THE LAST OF--” As the cart pulled out onto the street, though, the noise gradually faded away.

Wigwam’s original concern for Garland returned, and he wished that she would not have to get caught up in Tawny’s questioning for he was sure it would not go well for her. He looked at her as she waited patiently for whatever was to come out of this crazy night.

“You should go home, Garnet; your shift ended ages ago.”

The mare smiled at the use of her real name. “I think Tawny will want to talk to me.”

“Just get out of here.”

Garnet fastened her gaze on Wigwam’s face, trying to decipher his intentions. He knew full well that she had information that could only point to her as a suspect herself, but he was telling her to leave-- leave temporarily... or for good?

Wigwam turned his eyes to the doorway through which he could see Tawny tying up some loose ends with Strider, then looked back at Garnet. “Get away from here and straighten out your life; you’ll have a job waiting at the casino whenever you’re free of your past.”

“You’re serious?”

Wigwam rolled his eyes. “Go already!”

With one last smile, Garnet bid her boss farewell and slipped out the doorway just as the paramedics were arriving. In the ensuing confusion, Tawny did not notice that the red mare was no longer there.

* * *
Used to traveling light, Garnet spent very little time at her apartment gathering her things together, but she did stop long enough to make a phone call. In response to the answer on the other end, she said, “Wishbone, it’s me, Garland.”

“Garland! It’s good to hear your voice, but Chocolate Chip’s gone to bed already.”

“Well, wake her up. There was an attempted robbery at the casino tonight, and Wigwam may want her soft, warm shoulder to lean on.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, I’m serious. Just get your sister over to the casino so she can see for herself that Wigwam’s all right before she hears inflated versions of the story through the town gossips.”

“I’ll do it, and thanks for calling, Garland.”

Garnet hung up the phone and took a deep breath. Did Chocolate Chip know how fortunate she was to have a brother who cared about her and would be there for her at a moment’s notice? Garnet did not even know where Sable was, and any links with the rest of her family were elusive, at best. What would it have been like if she could have settled in Dream Valley without her past catching up with her! With a final glance around her rental, she threw a dark veil over her hair and hoisted the backpack over her shoulder and headed out the door.

* * *
It was only after the medical ponies had cleaned and covered the laceration that Tawny realized that the red mare was no longer hovering over Wigwam. “Where’s the girl?” he barked.

Wigwam looked at him blankly. “Both paramedics were stallions, Tawny.”

With a gruff voice, Tawny growled, “You know who I mean... Garland or Garnet-- or whatever her name is.”

“I sent her on her way.”

“You what?” Tawny looked at him with disbelief. “With all the hullabaloo around here tonight, she’s going to turn tail and run, too!” He motioned for Strider, but Wigwam intervened.

“She could have run away from Laban tonight but she didn’t; she put her own safety on the line by helping me.”

“For that, I’m grateful; but it doesn’t change the fact that the mare is wanted by the law.”

“She may have made a mistake in the past, but that doesn’t mean that she can’t change.”

“She’s an expert at subterfuge, Wigwam. Don’t tell me she’s bamboozled you, too.”

“Her heart’s in the right place.”

Looking at his friend closely, Tawny asked, “And what would you know about her heart?”

“All I’m saying is that she’s been a model employee since she came here, and Chocolate Chip and I both value her friendship.” He nearly glared at the police chief. “You’ve studied her file; you know that she was raised in an environment of deceit and stealth; if she had adopted the ways of her parents and siblings, she would have taken the money out of the vault long ago.”

Tawny did not miss the innuendo, but he let it slide; he was grateful that Garnet had intervened in Laban’s plan; and if she had the know-how to enter the casino safe but did not take advantage of it, then that was surely on her side as well. He backed off on his questions and offered an apology instead. “Hey, I’m sorry if I upset you, but it’s my job to catch the bad guys; if you’re right, then tonight was a success-- we’ve got Laban where he belongs.”

“Just keep him there; I don’t want to run into him again anytime soon.” Wigwam turned his head and patted the gauze strips along his shoulder.

“How’s that feeling?”

“Not bad; those paramedics really know what they’re doing.” He stood up gingerly nonetheless.

“Wigwam!” Chocolate Chip and Wishbone had just arrived and were ushered in by Strider. The brown mare sped across the room to where Wigwam stood. “Oh, Wigwam, what happened to you?” She looked at him with dismay and concern.

“Nothing much... I just had an encounter with a lava monster.”

“So that’s where the putrid smell comes from,” Wishbone said. “It reminds me of the time Chocolate Chip tried to bake bread.”

“You look pale,” Chocolate Chip fretted. She turned to Tawny. “Shouldn’t he be at the hospital or something?”

“The paramedics were here; he’s fine.”

“Well, he doesn’t look fine. You will let him go home now, won’t you?”

“Sure. Anymore questions can wait until tomorrow.”

“Then lets get out of here,” Chocolate Chip ordered. “Does it hurt when you walk?”

Wigwam took a step or two and groaned miserably. “You might have to help me out here,” he said to the mare while winking at Tawny and Wishbone. “Maybe give me your foreleg for support?”

The accommodating mare offered her aid and guided the suddenly very weak stallion out of the office. Tawny snickered to Wishbone. “The wound wasn’t bothering him until someone showed up to offer him her sympathy. Go figure.”

Wishbone laughed. “I’ll make sure they both get home safely. By the way, where’s Garland? She called us about the robbery, but I haven’t seen her here.” He looked genuinely disappointed.

“Garland? I guess she’s gone home, too.”

“Oh. Okay. I’ll catch her tomorrow.”

* * *
Wigwam dropped into his favorite easy chair with a sigh of relief; he had found by the time he neared home that his aggravated body really did hurt. “You two were a big help,” he smiled at Chocolate Chip and her brother. “Thanks a lot.”

“Is there anything I can get you?” Chocolate Chip asked.

“Maybe a blanket and a pillow; I thing I’ll spend the rest of the night right here.”

Chocolate Chip scampered off to get the requested items, and Wishbone took this opportunity to ask about Garland. “Was Garland with you when the attack occurred?”

“I’ll say she was there; I’d be in worse shape than this if she hadn’t come on the scene when she did.”

“Is she okay?”

“She’s fine. But I think it showed her that the casino is not the place for her; she may even leave Dream Valley.”

“She was happy here; she wouldn’t just run off like that.”

Chocolate Chip had returned with a fluffy pillow and a warm blanket and stood next to her brother. She looked at Wigwam, waiting for him to reveal Garland’s true story.

“There’s something you don’t know about Garland. Her real name is Garnet, and she was involved in a robbery last spring in Binksville.”

“Garnet? A robbery?”

“She’s been escaping the law by changing her appearance-- her true hair color is red and her symbol is a garnet gem.”

Wishbone looked at his sister. “You knew about this?”

“Just since last night. And there is something more. Garland-- or Garnet-- is Sable’s sister.”

“Sable? No!” Disbelief clouded the stallion’s face, but his own experience of trying to figure out what there was about the mare that had seemed familiar to him bore out the truth: The attractive red mare and the deceitful deep-grey stallion were siblings. He had been more than happy to be rid of Sable, but the loss of the mare tore at him with unexpected sorrow.


by Sugarberry (

“Toby, I’ve got some news for you.” The voice was Perry Winkle’s, and Toby felt a hint of trepidation; he had contacted Friendship Garden’s lawyer concerning the questionable circumstances surrounding the closing of Fern’s grandmother’s will and the eventual dismissal of Fern from the home in which she had grown up under her grandmother’s care.

Fern knew nothing of his discreet interference into her affairs; now, upon hearing Perry’s voice, Toby was hit with a sinking feeling that Fern would resent his prying into her background, no matter if it was in her best interests or not. “Perry, is it about Fern’s inheritance?”

“That and more. When can we get together?”

“First, tell me if what you’ve learned is going to be good news or bad for Fern.”

“For Fern herself, it is very good news.”

“Then the sooner, the better. Fern and I are going out for dinner tonight; could you join us?”

“That would work well for me; but let me set up the reservation; Driftwood always had a special table that he gave me when I needed privacy to talk with my clients, and Whisk says he will continue the tradition even with Driftwood married and gone to Berryvillle. Meet me at the Estate Manor at seven.”

* * *
Toby picked Fern up for the walk to the restaurant, but he could not work up the courage to broach the upcoming revelation that Perry would have for her. He listened in silence to the incidents from work and the plans for her writing class and the activities with Chocolate Chip. He was no closer to finding an opening for his unexpected news when Fern stopped her chatter and looked at him with a studying glance. “What’s bothering you, Toby?”

The stallion met her blue eyes; their solicitude induced him to speak. “We are not dining alone tonight; a friend of mine, Perry Winkle, is joining us; you might remember him from the charity ball.”

“Yes, I do. He was in the company of Princess Dawn. If I remember correctly, he is a lawyer.”

“That he is.” Toby stopped and turned to Fern. “I asked him to check on some things in connection with your grandmother.”

“Some things? Like what?”

“Like how your grandmother could ignore your needs in her will and how your great-uncle could evict you from the home you had shared with your grandmother for years. I thought you should know for certain that everything was done in accordance with the law.”

Fern stared at Toby for so long that the stallion envisioned an unpleasant scene arising, but Fern’s words reassured him. “You did that for me? I was hoping to save enough money to have someone investigate the situation, but it would have taken months and months.” She suddenly stopped, realizing what this could mean. “What did Perry find out?”

“He didn’t tell me anything except that it would be good news for you.”

Fern’s blue eyes widened. “Good news... does that mean...”

Toby stopped her. “I don’t know what it means, so maybe we should continue on our way to the Estate Manor; the sooner we get there, the sooner you will know something for sure.” He took her hoof in his, and they started on their way again.

“I’m almost afraid to hear what Perry has to say, Toby. I’m happy with what I’ve found in Dream Valley.”

Those words brought back the earlier apprehension and sent a cold shiver across Toby’s skin. In that instant, he wished overwhelmingly that he had kept out of this inquisition into Fern’s past.

* * *
Steering the conversation away from the business at hoof until they were seated and comfortable, Perry finally met Fern’s questioning look head on. “I imagine you are wondering what I’ve found out about the proceedings at Bushley.”

“Y... yes,” Fern stuttered, casting a glance at Toby for his support.

“Well, first of all, it was several weeks ago that Toby told me about his-- and your-- quest, yet it was only this morning that I had time to make a preliminary phone call to the only lawyer in Bushley to see if he knew anything about your grandmother’s case.”

“Your first contact was today, and you already have news?” Toby could not help asking.

“I stumbled into some good luck,” Perry smiled. “It seems, Fern, that your great-aunt is looking for you.”

“Aunt Maisie is looking for me?” echoed Fern in surprise.

“A lot has happened with her since your hasty dismissal by her husband a year ago.” Perry looked at Fern as if to prepare her for something harsh. “Your great-uncle, Troubadour, passed away several weeks ago.”

“No,” Fern whispered. “That can’t be.”

“He had a terminal illness already when he moved into your grandmother’s house; in fact, that is what prompted him to do what he did.”

“What he did? I don’t understand.”

“Your aunt Maisie was told some things by Troubadour when he was failing close to the end. He admitted to his wife that he had tricked her sister-- your grandmother-- into signing a will that gave Maisie everything she had.”

Toby set a restraining hoof on Fern’s foreleg to steady her. “How did he manage that? From what Fern has told me, her grandmother was one sharp mare.”

“He came to her unexpectedly and told her about his illness; he then told her that he wanted to include Fern as an heir in his own will as he and Maisie had no offspring of their own. He was so serious in his proposal that he wanted Maud to sign a paper to put with her own legal documents that stated her knowledge and agreement to Fern’s inheriting from Troubadour in case anyone questioned such a transaction between ponies who had ignored each other for a large part of their lives.”

“Granny never told me about this.”

“Maybe she still didn’t trust Troubadour completely. And she had reason not to. The stallion had her sign other papers along with the ones he told her about; unknowingly, she signed a new will of her own. It’s that will he presented after her death, with the help of a not too reputable lawyer friend of his.”

“But why couldn’t I find her real will?” Fern asked in a trembling voice.

“Troubadour even told Maisie how he accomplished getting his hooves on your grandmother’s will in the short time that he was at her house. He, of course, had gained her compassion toward him on admitting to her that he was dying and that Maisie would be alone soon; then by convincing her that you would be included in his will, he further gained some control over her.”

“Granny would have been caught between her love for her sister and her distrust of Troubadour.”

“Your great-uncle was obviously a trickster at heart; he mouthed off to your grandmother that copies of his will would be kept with his lawyer and in a safe deposit box at his bank as the safest places for such an important document, and Maud unwittingly glanced at a small wooden box that sat on her mantelpiece. Troubadour deducted that the box was where her will was located; and knowing that she had not trusted a lawyer to help her with the will, he surmised that it was probably the only copy.”

“That box was always locked,” Fern argued. “And I did find the key when I went through my grandmother’s things, but the box was empty.”

“Maisie admitted that Troubadour was not above picking a lock if it was in his best interests; I gather that was how he managed to support himself and Maisie for many years. He simply had to sneak in the house after Maud thought he was gone and removed the papers without her ever knowing.”

“Quite a conniving stallion,” Toby commented as Fern sat absorbing the information.

“How could Aunt Maisie live with such a character?” she finally asked.

“From what Dynasty, Bushley’s lawyer, told me, your Aunt Maisie is an extremely gentle pony who needs a lot of guidance; I doubt that she would have been capable to stand up to Troubadour even if she did not approve of his deeds. But once she became aware of his interference with your legacy, Fern, she came to Cody as soon as she could after her husband’s funeral. She wants to make things right for you.”

“Is that possible without Granny’s original will?”

“Troubadour must have had some conscience to him; he kept that will and let Maisie know where it was; it would appear that he intended for you to have your share of the inheritance in due time.”

“If she survived the interim!” spat Toby as he remembered the unconscious and malnourished filly he had discovered that hot summer day several months back.

The three ponies sat in silent thought for some minutes before Perry came back to business. He addressed Fern. “Dynasty would like to see you and me in Bushley this weekend, Fern.”

“So soon?” The young mare looked overwhelmed.

“From what Dynasty tells me, your great-aunt is quite upset over this entire situation; he is concerned for her health if something isn’t done to set her mind at ease soon.”

Fern turned her head to look at Toby, her eyes haunted with uncertainty. “Will you come with me?”

“I’ll get someone to cover for me,” he assured her.

She turned back to Perry. “Then this week-end it is.”

* * *
“Your great-aunt insisted that we spend the night at her-- your-- house, Fern,” Perry remarked as he, Fern, and Toby neared the town of Bushley. “I hope you aren’t daunted by such a homecoming.”

Fern, who had started this trip quiet and withdrawn, had slowly come alive as she neared her hometown; she began to recognize sights and could tell stories of things that had happened in her years with her grandmother. Her eyes were dancing with excitement now as the town itself was within range.

“When I left here, I thought that I would never come back,” she admitted, growing pensive. “I imagined that all my feelings for this place had died when I was sent on my way. But now that I see it again, I think I can put all those horrible impressions away.”

“Just where is your grandmother’s house?” Toby asked.

“We’ll cut off on that lane up ahead to bypass the town; Granny’s house is about two miles due east of here.”

Now so close, Fern could not stop talking. “Granny and I walked this road hundreds of times, going to church and shopping. Of course, when I went to school, I had to walk it alone; but I enjoyed the scenery, so I was never lonesome. Sometimes, Granny would meet me under this big maple tree just to hear about my day; I wish she was there now.” Sadness crossed her face as she mourned again the loss of her grandmother, the pony who had taken the place of her parents so long ago.

“Your grandmother will be happy to know that things are finally going to be the way she wanted them for you,” Toby comforted her.

“She was so wonderful.” Fern sighed. “I hope Aunt Maisie is at least a trifle like her.”

The house now loomed before them, a large, white, elegant residence with a spreading front porch covered with ivy. On the west corner was a round turret and just visible around the side of the house was an apple orchard. The setting was dotted with spreading maples and stately elms and a line of lilac bushes rimming the lawn. Fern drank in the vision. “It looks just like when I last saw it!” She rushed to the front steps that led to the generous porch, leaving the stallions behind, but stopped short as she reached the first step.

Off a wooden bench to the side of the door arose a pony, petite and prim, her lavender body trembling, her pink hair clipped back off her shoulder. She took one step forward and with a wispy voice asked, “Fern? Is that you, Fern Feather?”

For a moment, Fern faltered. The mare on the porch look amazingly like Granny on first glance, but the voice was only a shadow of the confident voice her grandmother had. As the mare came out of the shadows, Fern saw that there were tears in her eyes; that was one thing Fern could not abide. She hurried up the steps and met her great-aunt at the top. “It’s me, Aunt Maisie. It’s Fern.”

“I’m so glad you’re here!” the older mare cried, and in the same moment nearly lost her ability to stand, her emotion was so great.

A stallion that Fern had not been aware of came from the depths of the porch and put a strong foreleg around the elderly mare to stabilize her. “It’s all going to be okay now, Maisie,” the stallion said in a soothing voice, leading her back to the bench. “You sit down and get acquainted with Fern; I’ll leave the two of you alone for awhile.”

The stallion was true to his word; he went down the steps to meet Perry and Toby. Extending his hoof, he introduced himself. “I’m Dynasty, the lawyer that is handling Maisie’s case. And you are...” He looked from one stallion to the next, trying to determine which was the lawyer he had been briefing on the phone.

“Perry Winkle,” Perry responded. “And this is Toby, a friend of Fern’s.”

“Nice to meet you both,” said Dynasty, shaking their hooves in turn. “I can’t tell you how thankful I am that you were able to get here on such short notice.” He looked back to the porch. “Maisie is a dear, but she has been worrying herself sick ever since she found out that Fern had been denied her legacy.”

“That’s what we are here to straighten out,” Perry smiled.

“Maisie won’t stand in your way; she won’t rest until the house and property are in Fern’s name as Maud intended.”

“Were you acquainted with Maud?” Toby asked curiously. He wanted to learn all about the pony who had raised Fern from a foal.

“We had the pleasure of meeting several times,” Dynasty smiled. “I can’t say that she was impressed with me, but I found Maud to be exceptional. She was as self-sufficient as they come, and she knew her rights and her responsibilities. She did not, however, have any trust for lawyers.”

* * *
Back at the porch, Maisie held Fern’s hoof protectively in her own. “I’m so sorry for what happened, Fern. I never knew until... until Troubadour was failing fast, that he had intervened in your inheriting the house here.” A new flood of tears brushed her cheeks, and Fern’s heart melted.

“It’s okay, Aunt Maisie. No harm has been done. I’m just sorry that you ended up all alone.”

“I loved Troubadour very much.” Maisie seemed to need to impress that on Fern, knowing that her marriage to the maverick stallion had not been blessed by her sister, Maud. “But I certainly would not have condoned the action he took against you, dear. I think he was sorry in the end, too.”

“Why did he take such a drastic step?”

“He loved me, too, Fern. When he found out that their was nothing that the doctor’s could do for him, he couldn’t face leaving me alone without some security. He knew that Maud would take me in after... after he was gone... but he wanted something in writing to guarantee a home for me in the case something happened to Maud, too. He knew that I couldn’t take care of things myself, Fern. What he did was wrong, but he did it out of love for me. Can you understand that?”

“But why did he not leave room for me in his plan?” Fern asked, trying to understand the workings of the stallion.

“He never expected Maud to go before him; but when she did, he thought you might resent me; he assumed that Maud would have filled your head will all kinds of horrible things that he had done. My sister never did like Troubadour, not for a minute. She never gave him a chance.”

Fern knew that Granny had often made instantaneous judgements about ponies, but she also knew that Granny was more often than not proved right in her assessments of equine nature.But Fern was not about to cause Maisie any more pain. “Granny never said anything against you, Aunt Maisie. I would have welcomed you and Troubadour, too.”

As the two mares hugged, Maisie looked beyond Fern to where the stallions still kept their distance. “Speaking of welcoming, I think we should invite those ponies in, don’t you, Fern?” She smiled at her great-niece with more life in her than Fern had yet been privileged to see.

“Yes, Aunt Maisie, I do.”

* * *
Fern found that the inside of the house was virtually unchanged from when she had left; as Maisie led the group into the parlor, Fern was taking in all the details that had stayed in her memory: the sweep of the stairway, the placement of the furniture, the pictures, the crocheted accents that had been her grandmother’s source of pride, and the heavily curtained windows. She found everything to be as she remembered it except for one spot on the wall that no longer held a portrait of herself and her grandmother. Fern filed a note with herself to ask Aunt Maisie about that missing picture when the two of them were alone.

“Fern, I’ve got coffee ready in the kitchen; would you help me serve?” Aunt Maisie set off for the kitchen, and Fern followed. As she managed the tray of coffee and supplies, Aunt Maisie uncovered a plate of homemade sugar cookies. “Do you think our guests will be hungry?”

“We stopped at the cafe in Stableton for a snack, but I think your cookies will go over very well.”

“You only had a snack? Then I should have fixed lunch for all of you. Dynasty didn’t tell me that you hadn’t eaten properly.”

“We are fine, Aunt Maisie. Don’t worry about us.” She motioned for her great-aunt to bring the cookies.

Maisie picked up the plate, but she shook her head and frowned. “I feel terrible about this; I would have had a nice lunch ready if I had known.”

Fern smiled. “If it will make you feel any better, you can treat us to a special dinner tonight.”

The mare’s face lighted up. “That’s a very good idea, dear. I’ll do that.” Returning to the presence of the stallions, Maisie lost no time in extending an invitation for them all to join her for the evening meal. That proposal taken care of, the mare served the coffee with Fern’s help; the cookies were met with honest praise that made Maisie flush with satisfaction. Fern noted that her great-aunt looked much younger when she was content.

After the small talk was out of the way, Dynasty cleared his throat. “Maisie, we have some business to discuss.”

Immediately, the demeanor of the mare became tense and worried. “Business? Of, yes, of course. Fern, dear, you will forgive me for what Troubadour did, won’t you? He did what he did for my sake, even if it wasn’t right.” A trickle of tears began once again.

“Aunt Maisie, you have nothing to be concerned over.” Fern squeezed her great-aunt’s hoof. “Let’s listen to what Dynasty has to say.”

The lawyer, casting an appreciative glance at Fern for her kindness to Maisie, took the floor. “As you all know, we now have in our possession the last will and testament of Maud Feather; according to the terms of that will, this house and the surrounding property and all the financial accounts of Maud will be in the possession of Fern once the proper paperwork is completed.”

“May I see those papers?” asked Perry.

Dynasty handed one copy to the Friendship Garden lawyer and one copy to Fern while Maisie sat back as if she was not involved with these proceedings. “Why don’t you take the time to study this over,” Dynasty suggested. “Then you can ask any questions that you may have.”

Maisie suddenly became alert. “There are some things I would like to take care of in the kitchen. You won’t be needing me, will you?”

“If you have important work to do, Maisie, you go right ahead.” Dynasty offered his hoof to the mare as she pulled herself off the settee next to Fern. Maisie acknowledged his help with a demure smile, then took herself off to her dinner planning.

Toby, in the meantime, was feeling out of place. This was Fern’s affair, not his, and he was becoming uncomfortable over the fact that he had pushed this onto Fern without facing the consequences. He looked at Fern across the room as she studied the will and realized that as of the finalizing of that statement, she would become an independently wealthy mare. And that being the case, she would no longer need his strength and support.

Lost in his thoughts, Toby would never have guessed what was going through Fern’s mind. The numbers before her were larger than anything she could have imagined. If Dynasty’s summary was correct, Granny had managed her jangles well; there would be no reason for Miranda to look down her nose at Fern now; she and Toby would have clear sailing.

Looking up from her paperwork, Fern caught Toby’s eye. Patting the couch next to her, she called him to her. “Miranda would have respected Granny,” she smiled as she handed him the facts.

Toby skimmed over the figures and chuckled. “I’ll say; she will have to change her attitude toward you now.”

Dynasty came to the center of the room. “Fern, do you have any questions?”

At the same time, Maisie came into the room. “Troubadour always helped me in the kitchen. I don’t know if I can do it without...” She was on the verge of more tears.

Toby saw his chance to escape the legal technicalities that needed Fern’s attention; he immediately went to Maisie’s rescue. “I can help you, Maisie. What do you want me to do?”

Maisie looked at the stallion as if he had lifted the world off her shoulders. “Why, thank you... Toby... is it?’

Toby followed her after a brief word with Perry to watch out for Fern’s concerns and a quick wink at Fern to bolster her resolve. Once in the kitchen, he was grateful for the times he had helped his mother prepare a meal; his own manner of cooking included microwave dinners and little more, which was not a good background for the style of dinner that Maisie had in mind. He at least knew enough to tell a cake pan from a roaster and a skillet from a Dutch oven. He and Maisie were soon working well together as Toby fetched pans and canisters and foodstuffs for the mare as she measured, poured, cut, and diced.

Only occasionally would the mare look directly at Toby, and he was amazed each time to see the same vivid blue eyes that graced Fern; he wondered if Granny shared that feature as well.

In the middle of his musing, Toby was hit with a direct question. “And what is your occupation, Toby?”

“I’m a doctor.”

Maisie dropped the spoon from her hoof. “Fern’s not well?”

“Fern’s fine,” Toby was quick to assure her. “We met when she came to Dream Valley.”

“Dream Valley...” Maisie contemplated as she continued stirring the batter. “Troubadour mentioned Dream Valley; I believe he was there before I met him.” She stared straight ahead, looking across the years. “I met him at a dance in Bushley. Maud never understood. You would understand about love, wouldn’t you, Toby?”

“Yes, I think I would.”

“Maud never...” Coming back to her duties, she brushed the mane off her forehead and got back to work.

* * *
The lawyers had spent the entire afternoon with Fern straightening out the details of Granny’s will, finishing only when Maisie called them to dinner. Fern came to Toby, her eyes bleary from the facts and figures that had been presented to her and the responsibilities connected to each. “I want to go home,” she groaned.

“You are home,” Toby reminded her.

“Dream Valley is my home now.”

“I’m very glad to hear you say that.”

“Come and sit down,” Maisie chided. “Perry, you sit here; Dynasty, here; Fern, here; and Toby, here.” She pointed out each seat in turn and waited for the ponies to sit down. Only then did she allow herself a chance to sit as well. “And now, a prayer,” she smiled at the waiting faces.

* * *
“This is a picture of my parents,” Fern said as she and Toby sought some quiet time after supper. Perry had insisted on helping with the dishes, due to the fact that Toby had worked so hard in helping Maisie prepare the meal. Dynasty had been commandeered as assistant dish-drier.

Toby looked the picture over carefully, studying the visages for their corresponding features in Fern. “You have your mother’s eyes, that’s for sure.” He smiled into Fern’s blue eyes, a reflection of the mare’s in the portrait. “And you have your father’s warm smile.” He bent toward that smile.

Perry, however, barged into the room with a china plate in his hoof. “Fern, tell me that your aunt and Dynasty are pulling my leg-- they tell me that there isn’t a telephone in this house!”

Fern giggled. “There never was one while I was here, so if Aunt Maisie and Troubadour didn’t put one in, nope, there aren’t any.”

“So now what am I supposed to do? Dawn is expecting a call from me sometime this evening.”

“Some ponies will do anything to get out of doing dishes,” commented Dynasty, following Perry. “If you come back and help, I’ll let you walk with me into Bushley when I leave; you can use my phone.” Muttering, Perry returned to his chores.

Toby stared at Fern. “You grew up without a telephone?”

“Granny would not allow one in the house; the phone company tried hard enough, but she wouldn’t let them on the property.”

“But, no phone?” Toby could not understand the concept.

“You never met Granny!”

Remembering something, Fern turned to the empty space on the parlor wall. “There was a portrait of Granny and I hanging in that space. I have to ask Aunt Maisie what became of it; it was taken when I was sixteen.”

“A sweet sixteen portrait?” Toby smiled. “I’d like to see that.”

“It was an impromptu decision to have it done; we walked passed the portrait studio one day in town, and Granny stopped suddenly in front of the window. She said, ‘Fern, here you are all grown up already; and we don’t have a single picture of you.’ That was fine by me, but she was adamant that I had to have my picture taken. I balked, telling her that as we had no picture of her either, that I would only consent if she was in the picture with me.”

“You were quite a diplomat.”

“Not really; I didn’t want to sit for a portrait, and I figured that she wouldn’t want to, either. But she dragged me into the studio; and as fate would have it, the photographer didn’t have any appointments that afternoon, and he was more than glad to have the business.”

“Are you still afraid of cameras?”

“Ask Chocolate Chip sometime; she tried to get a picture of me one day and failed miserably.”

“I have a cousin who is camera shy; what prompts such a reaction?”

Before Fern could answer, the dish-drying stallions returned. “Are you finished already?” Fern asked.

“Maisie kicked us out,” Dynasty admitted. “She was afraid that we were going to break some of the good china.”

“How about the two of you walking with us into town? Maybe we can hit the hot spots before we’re through,” Perry asked.

Dynasty snickered. “The movie theater is closed for remodeling and the dance hall only opens of Friday night. Bushley doesn’t really have any hot spots.”

“So what do you do for a good time?”

“Monopoly, Scrabble...”

“I’m surprised any of you have a telephone!” scoffed Perry.

“He’s teasing, you know,” Fern laughed. “Bushley has lots to do.”

“I’ll be my own judge of that,” replied the lawyer.

“Don’t get back too late,” Fern advised. “We lock the doors at ten.”

“I don’t think there will be a problem there, unless a wild animal attacks on my way back.” He suddenly looked serious; Dreamcatcher’s experience was still fresh in his memory. “That couldn’t happen, could it?”

“Now I’ll have to go along to protect him,” Toby grinned. “You and your aunt might like some time alone to get better acquainted, Fern. Do you mind if I go with these two?”

“That sounds like a good idea; I think Aunt Maisie has a lot of feelings and memories to talk over... but we really will lock the doors at ten.”

“We’ll be back before then,” Toby said as the three stallions filed out the front door.

* * *
“Where is everyone?” Maisie asked when Fern entered the kitchen alone.

“Gone to Bushley.”

Maisie smiled knowingly. “That young lawyer that came with you has a sweetheart.” She searched Fern’s face. “And Fern dear, you and Toby are in love, too, aren’t you?”

“He’s been a very special friend, Aunt Maisie; and, yes, I think I’m in love with him.” “I’d say he’s sure on his feelings for you, child.”

Fern blushed. “We both want to be sure it’s the real thing.”

Maisie sighed. “That sounds like Maud talking.”

“Why didn’t Granny approve of Troubadour?”

“She never gave me a reason; she just didn’t like him.”

“Granny never made a decision without a reason.”

“She cut us off before she had a chance to get to know him; there could have been no reason except...”

“Except what, Aunt Maisie?”

“Never you mind, dear.” She changed the subject. “Dynasty says that I should talk with you about what will become of me now that the will is settled.” She tried to smile, but her jaw quivered.

“Aunt Maisie! What do you think? Of course, you will stay here! Surely you wouldn’t think I’d send you away like... like...”

“Like Troubadour did with you? You do understand, don’t you, that he did it for me in his misguided way of protecting me? You don’t hate him for that, do you?”

“No, Aunt Maisie; I have to believe that he did the best for you that he could.”

“Thank you, dear. And you really meant it when you said that I would be staying here?”

“This will be your home as long as you want it. Granny and I both want that for you.” The two moved on to the parlor, and Fern brought up the missing picture. “Do you know what became of the portrait of Granny and me? It used to be on the wall next to Mom and Dad’s.”

“Troubadour took it down. He said that Maud was always watching him; it made him nervous.” She walked out to a hallway closet and returned with the portrait.

“That’s it!” exclaimed Fern. The image of her grandmother evoked many poignant memories. “Oh, Granny, how I’ve missed you!” She hugged the picture to her and let the tears fall.

“Come now,” Maisie comforted her until the tears subsided. “Let’s get this back up its place where it belongs.

* * *
The two ponies talked together until a knock on the door announced the return of Toby and Perry.

“Well, we found the center of life in Bushley, Fern, and it’s the ice cream shop, just like in Dream Valley,” Perry noted as Fern admitted them to the house.

“And how was your princess?”

“She wasn’t even home,” Perry shrugged. “I had to leave a message with Royal Blue.”

“Snuzzle was holding a dinner meeting of the hospital volunteers tonight; I’m sure you have nothing to worry about.”

“Just how late do these meetings run?”

“How long can a group of ponies, mostly mares, think of things to talk about?”

“Very long,” both stallions said at once.

Then Perry asked, “Where’s Maisie?”

“I hear the rattle of coffee cups,” Fern grinned. “She’s fixing us a bedtime snack.”

“Oh, no, Fern. You’ve got to help us. We had sundaes at the ice cream shop, courtesy of Dynasty. We couldn’t eat another bite; right, Toby?”

“It was a big sundae,” concurred Toby.

“You two wouldn’t want to hurt Aunt Maisie’s feelings now, would you?” Fern asked as she led them off to the kitchen with a side trip to view the newly rehung picture.

* * *
The stallions had been shown to the bedrooms on the second floor, and Maisie and Fern retired to their respective rooms at the rear of the house on the main floor. This was Fern’s first look at her former room; Maisie had opened the door with the comment, “I didn’t touch a thing of yours. Everything is just as you left it.”

And it was. Fern said goodnight to her great-aunt and entered the room alone; she wanted to experience the feelings and emotions by herself. She stood just inside the closed door, savoring every article that had been part of her life during her growing-up years. There was so much that she had left behind; and now here she was in the midst of it again, something she had lost hope for in her lonely wanderings.

On her bed sat a purple cloth doll in the shape of a cat wearing a frilly purple dress. Fern scooped up the softly stuffed treasure and danced around the room. “Sally, you must have thought I deserted you for good.” Fern giggled. “So did I. Oh, my little friend, just wait until you meet the stallion who saved my life and made it possible for me to come back. You’ll love him, too!”

It was much later after having reacquainted herself with her space-- her books, the three My Little People dolls in their garden play set, the crystal vase in which she had kept a red rose from Granny’s rosebush, an antique case with her mother’s jewelry. Every item brought back a memory to relive-- a smile or a tear.

On the floor of her closet she found a metal box with letters; for a moment she could not place whose they were; but then she recollected-- while searching for her grandmother’s will, she had come across a lifetime of letters received by Granny; they were not what she had been looking for, but she had moved them to her room to read when she found herself missing her grandmother. But they, too, had been left behind at her sudden dismissal, only now to be discovered again. She set the ribbon-bound letters on her dresser; she would take them back to Dream Valley with her to read at her leisure.

Fern crawled into bed, happy to have reached a point where she could look back on her life without regrets and look forward to a promising future. She hugged the purple cat to her and drifted off to pleasant dreams.

* * *
The morning sun shining in her east window awoke Fern and she lazily stretched, knocking Sally to the floor. Only then did she remember where she was, and she slid out of bed to make the most of the day before she, Perry, and Toby would head back to Dream Valley.

After a shower and a fresh ribbon in her hair, she trotted to the kitchen, following the tantalizing smells of Maisie’s breakfast. The guys better be hungry this morning, or Aunt Maisie will be disappointed, she thought to herself.

“Aunt Maisie! Good morning!”

“Fern, dear, you’re up early. I hope I didn’t wake you.”

“Who would mind getting awoken to such yummy smells!” Fern hugged Maisie. “I’m starved!”

It was not long before Perry and Toby found their way to the kitchen, and Aunt Maisie bustled about scrambling eggs and buttering toast and monitoring the browning apple muffins while the others prepared the table and hovered close to the tantalizing array of food.

“Apples homegrown in the orchard are always best,” Maisie declared, setting a bowl of rosy red fruit on the table. “Of course, I wasn’t able to pick as many as I would have liked, not having help and all.”

“You’ll be able to hire someone to help you in the future,” Perry told her, carrying the coffee pot to the table.

“But who would I hire?” Maisie looked blank.

“Don’t worry about that now,” Fern ordered. “Are the eggs done?”

“Yes, they are, so let’s eat while the food’s hot.” On this fresh, new morning, no one complained.

* * *
Being denied their offer to help with dishes, Toby and Perry left the house to walk over the property that went with the house. “If you need my advice on any of your holdings, I’d better know what I’m dealing with,” Perry had told Fern.

As the last dishes were being washed, Maisie began laying out her plans for lunch, but Fern intervened. “Aunt Maisie! We couldn’t eat another big meal after that luscious breakfast you served!”

“A pony’s got to eat!”

Fern laughed. How many times she had heard Granny say that! “Oh, Aunt Maisie; I’m so glad we’ve found each other.” She hugged the mare exuberantly, but Maisie stood forlorn. “What’s the matter, Aunt Maisie? What did I say?”

“You are going to leave me here alone, aren’t you?”

“Aunt Maisie, I have my own life back in Dream Valley.”

“I know that. But this house is going to be so quiet once you’re gone.” She tried to hold back her tears but with no success.

“You needn’t be alone; surely you have friends who will look in on you and...”

Maisie was shaking her head emphatically. “There’s no one; Troubadour didn’t like too many ponies around, so we kept to ourselves.”

“But there must be...”

“No one. And now, who would come near me knowing what Troubadour did to Maud and you.” Fern tried to avert her great-aunt’s fears, but the mare could not restrain her worries. “And there will be more papers to sign-- Dynasty said so-- and how will I know what to do? Troubadour always took care of things, Fern; he always took care of me!” She collapsed into a chair and buried her wet face in her hooves.

“Aunt Maisie...” Fern smoothed down the mare’s hair like Granny used to do for her when she cried over some crisis-- real or imagined. “Aunt Maisie, would you like me to stay for a little while to help you out?”

Maisie uncovered her face, a sob shaking her body. “Oh, Fern dear, would you do that for me?”

“Of course I would.” Fern hugged her great-aunt close but wilted a little inside. Her mind was whirling from this unexpected concession on her part. What of Chocolate Chip and my other new friends, my job with Lemon Treats, my class at Pony Pride, my Toby... I miss him already! She had faced many tribulations in her short life, but nothing that hurt like this did.

* * *
Fern found the stallions on the far side of the orchard and Perry was sharp enough to see the tension in her face; he excused himself to return to the house and go over some more legal details.

As Fern and Toby stood facing one another alone, Toby knew without being told what was bothering Fern. “You’re going to stay, aren’t you?”

“Just for a couple of weeks until Aunt Maisie is used to being without Troubadour. She gets so worked up facing the responsibilities that she’s never had to shoulder before. You do understand, don’t you?” Her eyes pleaded with him.

“Yes, I do. It’s the kind of pony you are-- kind and compassionate-- that fueled my love for you in the first place.” Their eyes were locked, and Toby reached out to touch this face that made his spirit soar. His lips moved to meet hers.

“Fern! Toby! It’s time we were setting off for church or we’ll be late.” Aunt Maisie came along the orchard path in search of the two, realizing too late that she had interrupted a special moment. “I’ll meet you back at the house,” she said.

* * *
After church, the ponies lunched at a local cafe under orders from Maisie; Dynasty joined them so that he and Perry could clear-up any last questions. Maisie was in high spirits to know that Fern would be with her, and Toby was depressed for the same reason although he did not let it show.

When lunch was over, goodbyes were said. “I’ll write lots of letters,” Fern promised.

“This might be a good time to have a phone put in,” Toby rationalized.

“If I heard your voice, I wouldn’t be able to stay away.”

“All the more reason.”
* * *
Nothing but silence surrounded the two stallions as they plodded along the path to Dream Valley.

“It’s only for two weeks,” Perry observed to his downcast friend.

“Is it?” Toby queried. “You warned me when I first approached you about checking on Fern’s inheritance that I might open a door that I couldn’t close.”

“But things have worked out well for Fern; you should have no regrets.”

“What if she finds her life in her old home too much to walk away from?”

Perry shook his head. “You are making up problems where there are none.”

But Toby persisted in his negative musings, imagining Fern settling in among the ponies of Bushley, delighting in their company, and reveling in her newly found status as an independent pony. Would she forget about her friends in Dream Valley? Would she forget about him?


The Tabby and Sugarberry Gossip Hour!
by Tabby and Sugarberry ( and

Tabby: We have breaking news!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sugarberry: Barnacle got broke.

Tabby: Yes. Poor Barnacle. He was in a horrific boat accident.

Sugarberry: It was terrible.

Tabby: Okay, so I bet all of you want to know all the juicy details, right????? So, I’ll tell you. Barnacle was, like, out in a tiny little rowboat. And then, like, he was stopped, waiting to make a turn, when this HUGE gigantic boat thing came up RIGHT BEHIND HIM and totally COULDN’T STOP.

Sugarberry: Oh, poor Barnacle!

Tabby: Barnacle’s boat got really smashed up, you know; and to top it all off, he was swung out into the opposite lane of boats. He was crashed into on EVERY SIDE.

Sugarberry: Oh, poor Barnacle!

Tabby: It took the medics HALF AN HOUR to cut Barnacle out of the wreck! Then he was whisked off to the emergency room at the hospital here, whatever it’s called.

Sugarberry: Ponyland General Hospital, or something?

Tabby: Okay. So anyway, they, well, did their stuff on poor Barnacle. And he was MAJORLY FIGHTING THEM all along.

Sugarberry: And he was covered in blood!

Tabby: We were there. Along with Spike.

Sugarberry: It was so scary!

Tabby: And they had to cut off his hat and eyepatch!

Sugarberry: And hook him up to all kind of machines!

Tabby: And THEN they had to airlift him to the hospital in Hayton.

Sugarberry: Barnacle’s mom and dad met him there.

Tabby: Who are his parents, anyway? I didn’t know he had parents.

Sugarberry: Tabby! Of course Barnacle has parents! Don’t you remember? We played with Barnacle; he had to have a home.

Tabby: We usually met him by the river. I never saw his home.

Sugarberry: Hmm... you’re right. But I’m sure he must have had parents!

Tabby: I’m not so sure...

Sugarberry: Well, anyway, they were at the hospital in Hayton.

Tabby: Right. Okay. So... they had to scan his head because they were afraid he’d sustained, like, head injuries!

Sugarberry: But they all came out fine.

Tabby: That’s right! And he didn’t even have any broken bones or anything. Just scratches.

Sugarberry: And a horrible gash on his foreleg. With lots of stitches!

Tabby: Yeah, that too.

Sugarberry: And we’re happy to report that he’s doing fine.

Tabby: The doctors say he has to take a few weeks off from work, though. Does pirating count as work, Sugarberry?

Sugarberry: I’m sure it does to Barnacle.

Tabby: True. So now he’s recovering back at Port Scurvy.

Sugarberry: Not a fun way to get a vacation.

Tabby: Guess not. What else has happened, Sugarberry?

Sugarberry: That’s a good question, isn’t it, Tabby?

Tabby: Toby’s new girlfriend left him already, remember?

Sugarberry: Tabby! That’s not true! She’s only sorting out some stuff back at Bushley.

Tabby: Sure she is.

Sugarberry: You’re a pessimistic, aren’t you, Tabby?

Tabby: I’ll take that as a compliment.

Sugarberry: Well, trust me. Fern will be home before you know it.

Tabby: Toby’s infatuations are so funny. He’s wandering around town now like a lovesick puppy.

Sugarberry: I can remember a time when Thomas was the same way.

Tabby: Come on, Sugarberry. I whipped him into shape soon enough.

Sugarberry: Yes, I guess you did. And look at the little sweetheart you have to show for it.


Sugarberry: Yes, she is.

Tabby: You’ve used that word twice now in two concurrent sentences, Sug.

Sugarberry: I guess I’m just an agreeable pony.

Tabby: Now you’re stuck up on “I guess”.

Sugarberry: I could just keep my mouth shut.

Tabby: No. I don’t think the readers would want to listen to just me ramble for the rest of this installment.

Sugarberry: I dunno; I think it might be kinda fun.

Tabby: Oooh! Did I tell you about Faline’s new Furby?

Sugarberry: No! Who is it?

Tabby: His name is Lee-Koo. He’s a lovely blue and black pattern with the brightest of blue eyes!

Sugarberry: He sounds cute, too.

Tabby: And then there’s her Shelby, Mecha.

Sugarberry: Gee, Barnacle never did get back to town with a Shelby for me.

Tabby: He did bring you one but you refused the poor little guy!

Sugarberry: Well, it’s a good thing I did, or he would have been kidnapped, too!

Tabby: The Shelby?

Sugarberry: Well, if I had him with me all the time, he would have been grabbed along with me, I’m sure. Of course, he would have given Zaverio a piece of his mind, which would have been a good thing.

Tabby: Oh, I get it now!

Sugarberry: Actually, I saw Zaverio at Giorgio’s wedding.

Tabby: They let fugitives attend weddings?

Sugarberry: Giorgio and his dad have been working with him.

Tabby: Oh. So who’d Giorgio marry, anyway?

Sugarberry: As if you didn’t know!

Tabby: That’s right, Clare! The one who was trying to steal Vanguard before.

Sugarberry: Let’s not get into that. And at the same time, Pacificus married Hydrangea.

Tabby: And then there was your sister Raspberry and Driftwood!

Sugarberry: Ah, yes. That was a lovely wedding in Berryville.

Tabby: It’s been an awful lot of weddings.

Sugarberry: That’s because a lot of us ponies are getting to that age now, Tabby!

Tabby: I still can’t believe Tamara ran off and eloped like that.

Sugarberry: Yes, I thought she would have a huge wedding with all the trimmings.

Tabby: Just think what a shock it was for her parents!

Sugarberry: I hear your Aunt Lynette was ready to disown her!

Tabby: She was still in shock when she said that, Sugarberry. But after she met Phillipe, she gave them her blessing.

Sugarberry: That’s sweet.

Tabby: And Mom and Dad are finally moving out of my old house. You’ll have to get used to new neighbors, Sug.

Sugarberry: Tell me about it.

Tabby: It’ll be fun!

Sugarberry: I don’t know. I liked having Hubert and Agatha there. If I can’t have you, Tabby, as a neighbor, at least I had your parents.

Tabby: Maybe there’ll be a lovely mystery surrounding the new ponies who move in and you’ll become entangled in it.

Sugarberry: That’s a good idea! Then I’d have a new novel to write!

Tabby: Exactly.

Sugarberry: Vanguard and I walked past the new construction the other day.

Tabby: Yes. It’s supposed to be finished in time for Christmas and they’ll throw a lovely party for all the gang.

Sugarberry: I’m sorry we’ll have to miss it! But we are spending Christmas with my family in Berryville.

Tabby: The past few years all your family has come here, haven’t they?

Sugarberry: Yes! Remember last year at your mansion?

Tabby: What a fabulous party!

Sugarberry: And the tree the guys got out of the Dark Forest was exceptional.

Tabby: So were the Furbys that were living in it.

Sugarberry: Did they stay with you?

Tabby: Yes, of course. I’ve developed a special Furby room in the mansion and any stray Furbys can live there if they want.

Sugarberry: You do like your Furbys, don’t you, Tabby?

Tabby: I hope I’ll start finding more Shelbys soon.

Sugarberry: Even Quarterback wants a Shelby, I’ve heard.

Tabby: To cheer the Packers on? Yes, but he changed his mind, because they’re too loud.

Sugarberry: Can you imagine a full stadium full of Shelbys?

Tabby: Oh, that would so totally rock!

Sugarberry: It would be total mayhem, you mean.

Tabby: That’s why it would rock.

Sugarberry: Didn’t you say you had to have Faline in for her doctor’s check-up this afternoon?

Tabby: Oh my gosh!! Yes, plus I still have to set up the VCR for today’s recording!!!

Sugarberry: Well, we wouldn’t want to miss that now, would we?

Tabby: *has already dashed off*

Sugarberry: Umm... well... goodbye, everyone!


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