My Little Pony Monthly Issue 67 (October 1, 2002)
My Little Pony Monthly
Established June 1997
This Newsletter is Safe for All Ages
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Index of this issue–
1. Chapter #2: Tales Sleepover (by Melody)
2. “The Earth has bubbles, as the water has, and these are of them!” (by Starre)
3. Autumnal Episode (by Sugarberry)
by Melody (firstname.lastname@example.org)
After the meeting, Bright Eyes walked home, daydreaming about Lancer. Suddenly, something freezing cold gently floated down and landed on her head. She quickly shook it off and caught it in her hoof. She gasped. It was a tiny crystalline snowflake and it was beginning to melt. She shook it off her hoof and stared up into the sky. Hundreds and thousands more snowflakes began dancing through the crisp winter air towards the ground. “Yippee!” cried Bright Eyes, jumping around with the snow swirling around her.
She looked over the houses in the street and saw that the town clock read 4:30 p.m. She hurried through the snow-caked paths, watching the magical snowflakes, occasionally trying to catch them. It was a white Winter Wonderland! After a few minutes, she began to get very cold. She tightened her red knitted scarf around her neck and reached her house. She opened the door, ran inside, collapsed onto the soft warm couch, and pulled out her homework.
Her father, Classy greeted her. “How was your day, Bright Eyes?”
Bright Eyes grinned. “It was fun. I can’t believe it’s snowing! And on the day of my sleepover, too!” she cried, hugging her dad.
“What’s your homework?” he asked.
“Oh, a few Maths sums and an English sheet,” she replied. She soon finished her homework and she and Classy settled down onto the couch to watch TV and sip cocoa with Bright Eye’s favorite special touch–pink marshmallows! Classy switched the channels until they found a comedy movie and together they laughed at the jokes until the doorbell rang. Bright Eyes bounced off the couch and bounded over to the door.
“I’m a Popsicle!” cried Patch.
“Yeah,” joked Melody. “Let the poor Popsicle in.” Bright Eyes ushered them into the warmth of her house.
“Pity you don’t have a fireplace,” said Patch.
“Oh, it’s warm anyway,” Bright Eyes told her. “My dad and I were just watching a movie. Do you want to come up to my room or wait for the others?”
“Wait for the others,” said Melody. Patch grinned wickedly.
“Something tells me...” began Bright Eyes.
“That the master practical joker is up to it again,” finished Melody.
“Good guess. That is correct,” said Patch. “Wait in there,” she said, pointing to the kitchen. Melody and Bright Eyes looked at each other, shrugged, and did as they were told. They peeked out of the kitchen doorway to watch Patch.
“Um, why on earth is Patch wearing your dad’s golf shirt with sunglasses?” whispered Melody.
“No idea,” said Bright Eyes. “And don’t ask why she’s holding an umbrella and a baseball bat, because I don’t know that either,” she added. The two girls giggled. The doorbell rang and made Bright Eyes and Melody jump. “We have to see this,” grinned Bright Eyes.
Sure enough, Patch opened the door with a “BOO!”, scaring poor Starlight and Sweetheart to death!
“Hey! That’s not nice!” smiled Starlight.
Sweetheart added, “Can you at least invite us in? It’s a little cold out.” So Patch let them in. Melody and Bright Eyes laughed.
“Good one, Patch! Just don’t do it again,” said Melody. Reluctantly, Patch put down the baseball bat and the umbrella and took off the golf shirt and the sunglasses. Bon Bon and Clover soon arrived and the girls ran upstairs to Bright Eyes’ room.
“It’s so neat that it’s snowing, huh?” said Bright Eyes.
“You bet! We can make Snow Pony Angels, snowmen and go snowboarding...” said Clover dreamily.
“You’ve forgotten skiing!” said Patch.
“Not to mention ice skating,” said Sweetheart.
“Think of all the fun things we can do!” said Starlight.
“Yeah, and that includes snowball fights!” said Bon Bon, playfully throwing a pillow at Clover, who shrieked.
Melody laughed. “But the downside is that it’s absolutely, positively freezing cold.” The others agreed, but still looked forward to everything else they could do.
“What’s for dinner?” asked Bon Bon. The others laughed. No matter what, Bon Bon always thought of food.
“Come downstairs and see,” said Bright Eyes, leading the girls to the dining room that joined onto the kitchen.
“Oh yum! Hamburgers and french fries with red cordial!” exclaimed Clover.
Classy and the girls sat down and ate dinner. Afterwards, they watched the Cleveland Bays live concert on PTV. They showered and got ready for bed. Once the lights were out, the fun began! They talked about their plans for the next day (a Saturday) and made plans to go to the Markets on Sunday.
Bright Eyes sighed. She had six great friends, a crush on a cute guy, and the best dad in the world. Life was perfect. Or so she thought.
“The Earth has bubbles, as the water has, and these are of them!”
by Starre (OpalStarre@aol.com)
Author’s Note: Last month’s quote was “Crossing the Bar,” taken from Tennyson’s poem entitled “Crossing the Bar”! He wrote it shortly before his death with the instructions to print it at the end of every book containing his works. Congratulations to Sugarberry again, for correctly guessing the answer! This month’s is listed above as the title, and I think it’s also pretty easy. So please at least try! E_mail me at OpalStarre@aol.com.
Incidentally, if you wish to hear Saint-Saens’ “Danse Macabre” you can go to
http://www.emmrald.com/dreams/GofD/SRS/srs.html Interesting little poem goes along with the song, too... but anyhow, onto the story!
Ella strolled about the Athenaeum humming Saint_Saens’ “Danse Macabre.” As she found a home for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, she was startled by a stallion’s voice behind her.
“Bit morbid, wouldn’t you think? Walking around humming the Dance of Death?” Ella whirled around, finding herself face-to-face with a rather homely-looking stallion that looked vaguely familiar. She couldn’t quite place it, though. The stallion laughed at her astonishment. “Sorry! Didn’t mean to startle you! By the way, I’m Nicholas Ward.” He held out a hoof which Ella took and nearly had her foreleg dislocated as he shook it very enthusiastically.
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Ward,” she managed, smiling after she had gained back possession of her hoof. “Can I help you? Is there something in particular you’re looking for?”
At this the stallion looked strangely flustered. “Er, how about The Legend of Sleepy Hollow?” he said slowly.
Ella turned back to the shelf and knelt down to retrieve the book she had just shelved on the bottom shelf. “Here you are; I just shelved it!” And she stood back up and turned to where Mr. Ward was standing– except he wasn’t there anymore! “How odd!” Ella said to herself and went to the end of the shelf to see where he might have gone off to so silently and suddenly. But Mr. Ward was nowhere to be found.
Shrugging her shoulders, Ella turned back to shelve The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for the second time that day.
* * *
That evening, Ella sat in the library with Lady Charlotte and Louise, who were discussing the latest gossip of Dream Valley. “Have you heard, Lady Charlotte... Pony_Mart just put all of their Halloween paraphernalia on sale! It’s only the second week of October; you’d think they’d wait a bit...” Louise said, looking up from a sweater she was knitting.
“Oh yes, things go on sale earlier and earlier every year it seems. Even Christmas tends to lose its esteem when everypony’s already been celebrating it for nearly three months!” Lady Charlotte said, rolling her eyes.
Ella laughed. “Well, someponies like holidays enough to celebrate them as long as they possibly can. I’m afraid I’m one of them, Lady Charlotte. Tomorrow night, I’m participating in the Athenaeum’s annual Halloween Read_a_Thon!”
“Read a what?” Louise looked up again, this time accidentally dropping her knitting needles to the floor.
“Read_a_Thon. Lots of fillies and colts will come to the Athenaeum, and we’ll stay up half the night reading ghost stories to them! It sounds like such fun, I think. Lofty and I have divided them up, and I’m in charge of Charles Dickens’ The Queer Chair, Kipling’s Phantom Rickshaw, Poe’s The Sphinx, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow!” Ella said ecstatically. “We’re going to light a few candles and play some scary music– I’m donating my ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ and ‘Danse Macabre’ to the cause. Right when all of the foals are going to leave, Windwhistler is intent upon jumping out from behind the counter in a monster mask!” At this Ella rolled her eyes. “Really, not very kind if you ask me!”
“Oh, that does sound like fun!” Lady Charlotte leaned forward, fully engrossed in the idea of a Halloween Read_a_Thon. “Is it only for foals? Perhaps I should come, too. I always love a good ghost story!”
“Oh, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind! Speaking of ghosts, I had the strangest experience this morning!” Ella continued. Louise and Lady Charlotte bent forward eagerly. “I was just shelving books, when all of a sudden this strange young stallion came up behind me and said something about the song I was humming. He looked strangely familiar, but I couldn’t quite figure out where I’d seen him, and the name surely wasn’t one I recognized... anyhow, I asked him if I could help him find a book, and he said that he wanted The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I had just shelved it, so I bent down, and when I stood up...” Ella paused for effect. “He was nowhere to be seen!” Lady Charlotte and Louise gasped. “Later, I asked Windwhistler if she had seen him come in, as she spends all her time manning the counter right next to the door. She said she hadn’t seen anypony at all! Then again, given her opinion of me, I’m not altogether sure I trust her!” Ella laughed.
“Strange, indeed...” Lady Charlotte said.
“Do you suppose it was a ghost?” Louise said nervously. She had been a filly at Evermoor, working as an under-maid when Lady Charlotte was a filly also. Lady Charlotte had delighted in scaring the maids by pretending to be a ghost in the basement. Even after all these years and countless confessions from Lady Charlotte, Louise was still plagued by a fear of “the ghost in the basement”!
“No, not really. But it was a bit eerie how he slipped off without me noticing!” Ella laughed. “He wasn’t very handsome either. Quite awkward, actually...”
“You said you knew his name?” Louise went on.
“Yes, I think he said it was Nicholas Ward...”
Louise pondered the name for a few minutes and an uncanny silence fell over the room, broken only by the clicking of Lady Charlotte’s knitting needles and the crackling of the fireplace which the three mares had decided to light as it was getting to be chilly and autumnish.
“Well, it sort of rings a bell with me,” Louise said slowly, “but I can’t quite place it.”
Ella laughed. “I’m sure it’s nothing. I’m going to bed!”
* * *
Slowly, Ella climbed up the narrow staircase to the third floor. She always disliked the hallway she had to go down to get to her tower room. Today, if it was possible, it seemed even more strange and foreboding than usual. About halfway to her room, Ella felt a sudden chill creep over her and spun around, getting quite scared. Nothing was there in the darkness of the hall, thank goodness. So she continued, but there–
The picture nailed to her door was illuminated in a ghostly sort of glow from the moonlight creeping in through the balcony door at the other end of the hallway. This is where she’d seen him! The homely and tragic-looking stallion in her picture looked exactly like the stallion she’d seen in the Athenaeum earlier that day! She couldn’t see how she hadn’t noticed earlier!
In a sort of fearful frenzy, Ella sprinted down and back to the library. At her sudden appearance both the elderly mares were stunned into silence for a few moments and they simply stared. Finally, Lady Charlotte chuckled. “Ella, what on earth is the matter? You look as though you’ve seen a... ghost!” she smiled, as this was what they’d been talking of only moments earlier.
“Who’s the stallion in the picture over the tower_room door?” Ella demanded, glad to be back in the warm, flickering light of the library.
“I’m afraid I don’t know. I only used that strange thing because it was big enough to cover that atrocious door!” Lady Charlotte smiled in spite of herself. “I’m sure he is very awful looking, but certainly not so as to invoke the terror you seem to be afflicted with!”
“Oh, but he was the one I saw at the Athenaeum today! I knew he looked familiar, but I didn’t recall that he happens to be hanging on my door!”
Lady Charlotte shook her head. “No, that’s quite impossible. That picture was around when I was a child. Anypony in that picture would be older than I am. You said the stallion you saw was young, dear.”
“Oh, but I’m sure of it! He has to be the same pony!” Ella exclaimed, collapsing into the armchair she had previously occupied. “Perhaps it’s a relation, then, but that IS the pony I saw!” she exclaimed defiantly.
“Well, it certainly would be odd if there were two ponies roaming around as ugly as that!” Lady Charlotte said, brushing the matter aside.
Louise, however, was convinced in Ella’s favor. “Oh, but suppose it is the same stallion as a ghost!”
Ella shivered involuntarily. “Then I spoke to a ghost today!” she said.
“We ought to get to bed,” Lady Charlotte said, gracefully getting up from her chair and folding her knitting up. Louise and Ella both started and exclaimed in unison–
“That would mean going back up there!”
Lady Charlotte laughed outright. “There, there, mares. I’ll protect you both as far as your bedroom doors!” And she left to go upstairs. Ella and Louise, both anxious not to be left to brave the third floor hallways alone, scampered after her like fillies.
* * *
The next morning, Ella awoke feeling very edgy. However, she couldn’t recall at all why she felt that way! It persisted this way until she grabbed a pretty hat and descended the stairs to her tower room. Shutting the door behind her, she was fixed at once by the melancholy stare of the mystery stallion. Ella shivered and quickly went downstairs to the dining room.
Louise looked like she hadn’t slept at all, and yawningly rubbed her eyes. Breakfast was an abnormally silent affair, as Louise and Ella both sat silently pondering their fear of the strange Mr. Ward, and Lady Charlotte silently laughed at them both.
Finally, Ella dismissed herself and started to trot towards the Athenaeum. Soon she discovered that October was a grand time to remember to bring one’s coat along even if it looked warm. Now she was shivering more from the chill in the air than from the chilly stare of the portrait on her door.
“Oh, I could kick myself!” Ella muttered mutinously, thinking of how much chillier the evening would be when she started home.
“Bit chilly this morning, isn’t it? You should have brought a coat.”
Ella nearly screamed, but instead substituted this with a loud gasp. “You!” she exclaimed, looking up into the same strange brown eyes of the mystery stallion.
“I’m sorry for startling you again!” the stallion laughed at the expression on Ella’s face. “Here, borrow my jacket.”
Before she could protest, Ella found herself having a warm jacket jammed over her head. “Mr. Ward, I’m sure...”
“Call me Nicholas,” he grinned. “It’s no inconvenience. Trust me.” He took her foreleg and started trotting with her down the street.
Ella yanked her foreleg out of his grasp and started peeling the jacket back over her head. With one final pull, it flew off her head and she turned to thrust it back into his forelegs... but he was gone again! Ella stopped, staring wildly around. Certainly he couldn’t be a ghost if he had just given her his jacket– could he? Certainly no ghost would be able to forcefully pull a jacket over an unsuspecting young mare’s head, would he? A ghost wouldn’t even need a jacket, would he? Ella stared up and down the street bewilderedly. He was nowhere in sight! She was left with a thick jacket, and no stallion to return it to. But Ella, being a fairly rational mare when it was necessary, did the only thing she could, and continued on her way to the Athenaeum.
The day flew by very quickly, and Ella soon forgot about her strange encounters. Soon she was sitting on a stool in front of a bunch of eager little faces reading the last sentences of the last story of the Read_a_Thon.
“Faith sir,” replied the story_teller, “as to that matter, I don’t believe one_half of it myself.”
And Ella slowly closed the book, thus scattering the spell that had been cast over her captive audience.
“Is that all?” one colt said mournfully.
“Yes, I’m afraid it is,” Ella smiled. “And it’s time for all of you to run off home!”
And all the foals paraded up to the front of the bookstore. Just as they reached the door, Windwhistler let out an almighty roar and sprang from behind the counter. Many fillies screeched and ran terrified from the shop. Many colts did the same, though in about a block, they sheepishly regathered their wits and tried to regain some ground by swaggering home as if they hadn’t been tricked at all!
“Windwhistler, that was perfectly horrible!” Lofty exclaimed, smiling in spite of herself.
Ella yawned. “As fun as that was, I’d better be heading back home!” she smiled. “It’s already ten-thirty!”
“Yes, you should. See you tomorrow then!” Lofty grinned as Ella gathered her hat and then, a bit reluctantly, the jacket she’d been left in charge of. Windwhistler condescended to look at her and snort a “Goodnight.”
Then Ella was alone in the moonlight. It was quite chilly and, in spite of herself, Ella found herself hastily drawing the jacket on again. She was just beginning to feel at ease again when she thought she distinctly heard the “Danse Macabre” being whistled behind her! Ella, fighting the impulse to run away as fast as she could, slowly turned around.
“Mr. Ward?” she said in a voice barely above a whisper. And there was a sudden tap on her shoulder sending her nearly five feet into the air. “Oh! Don’t do that!” she squealed, turning around again to find Mr. Ward in front of her rather then behind her. She started to take the jacket off again, but Nicholas quickly interfered.
“No, no. You keep that, Miss Fay. Too chilly out for mares to be wandering about without a jacket,” he grinned. Truthfully, Ella was thankful for this and was going to say so, but hadn’t the chance. “I heard you read tonight. You have a very expressive voice! I’ve never heard the Queer Chair in half as good a fashion!”
“Oh, you were there? Thank you!” For some reason, Mr. Ward was growing on her. “I’m afraid I didn’t see you...”
Mr. Ward laughed again. It was a pleasant laugh– a sort of boyish giggle. “Well, I seem to have that effect on ponies. Could I walk you back to Evermoor, Miss Fay?”
This seemed a bit strange to Ella. “Wait! How do you know my name and where I live?”
Mr. Ward looked uncomfortable again. “Er... I heard the yellow pegasus you work with call you Ella Fay and... you could say I have connections at Evermoor...”
“Oh, do you? Strange, I was telling Lady Charlotte and Louise about meeting you, and they didn’t recall who you were...” Ella said delicately. There was something not right about all this. Not right, but certainly not malicious, either.
“They didn’t? Well, I don’t suppose they would. . . It’s rather a– distant– connection.”
“Oh... right,” Ella smiled. This was very odd indeed. “Well, you seem to know quite a bit about me. Tell me about yourself.”
This took Mr. Ward quite off_guard. “Um, myself? Well, I’m not a really interesting pony, Ella– you’ll allow me to call you Ella?”
“Sure... what do you do? You seem to spend an awful lot of time at the Athenaeum where I work...” Ella pressed. She was going to conquer this ghost once and for all.
“Well, I’m an artist.” He said the word with reverence.
“An artist? My grandfather was an artist,” Ella replied.
“Of course he was,” was Nicholas’ prompt reply.
Ella was taken aback. “What do you mean ‘of course he was’? How could you possibly know?”
“I’m a great fan of his work,” Mr. Ward went on. “Sheer genius!”
“But my grandfather never sold any of his works. He only showed them a few times, and that was ages ago.”
Mr. Ward shifted uncomfortably. “Yes, well, I saw them ages ago. Never managed to see him, though. I have always imagined what he looks like, but have never actually seen him...”
Ella pondered this for a moment. When was the last time her grandfather had shown his paintings? It was quite long ago, when Ella was a filly. “My grandfather’s dead, did you know?”
Mr. Ward looked horror-struck. “No, is he really? I’m so sorry!” And he looked sincerely that.
“I don’t see how you could have missed it. It made headlines even here in Dream Valley,” Ella said slyly.
“I– er– don’t keep up with the news much,” was Mr. Ward’s awkward reply.
“Oh, indeed?” was all Ella could think of to say.
They didn’t need to walk in silence for very long, however, for Nicholas charged on ahead. “Come on, there’s something I want to show you!” And he started dragging Ella excitedly down the sidewalk.
“Wait! Nicholas! It’s nearly midnight! Where are you taking me?” Ella exclaimed, very much surprised by Mr. Ward’s forward nature.
“Don’t worry, it’s not far,” was all the reply she got; and in fifteen minutes they were standing in front of a shabby old building Ella recognized as a facility being rented out for storing things.
“Nicholas, why have you brought me here?” Ella said quietly.
“My paintings! I want you to see them!” he went on excitedly, wrenching the door open and pulling Ella inside.
For a while he paced around, digging in this and disheveling that, muttering to himself all the while. “Now, I know it was somewhere around here!” And he tossed a tarp into the air, which landed on Ella. “Aha!”
Ella hastily disentangled herself from the tarp and ran over to where Nicholas was standing proudly. She gasped. The paintings that were allegedly “his” were marvelous! Here were landscapes in vibrant colors, portraits that seemed nearly alive! All sorts of great works.
“Nicholas, these are wonderful!” Ella managed.
“You really think so?” he replied with a puppy_dog like enthusiasm. “ ‘And over our heads floats the bluebird singing of beautiful and impossible things, of things that are lovely and never happened, of things that are not, but should be!’ If you’ll allow me to quote Oscar Wilde’s ‘Decay of Lying’. ” He laughed bitterly. “The story of my life. I’ve always wanted my things to be sold and hung in ponies’ houses. To be made immortal through my art,” he said wistfully. “But they’re here in an old storage unit, gathering dust in obscurity.” He passed a hoof tenderly over one of a beautiful Sea Pony.
“I’m sorry, Nicholas!” Ella laid her hoof lightly on his foreleg. “They truly are masterpieces.” Removing her hoof, she bent down to look at the ones that were behind the first ones. But when she looked up– “Oh, I hate it when he does that!” Ella fumed. He had disappeared yet again.
Quietly, Ella went back home to Evermoor. The mansion lay silent and peaceful. For some reason, Ella wasn’t a bit frightened of this strange stallion anymore, and she hardly minded the third floor hallway at all! She paused before her door. Yes, there wasn’t any mistaking it. The portrait on her door was most definitely of Nicholas Ward. She stared up at him for a long time in silence. How on Earth did he happen to be hanging here in Evermoor? Just as she moved to open the door, she found that she still had his jacket! Oh well, she’d deal with it later.
She fell asleep fairly quickly and woke up early the next morning. Leaving a note for Lady Charlotte and Louise, who tended to be late risers, Ella decided to go back to that storage facility and ask the proprietor about Nicholas.
Finding her way through the silent streets of Dream Valley, Ella soon found herself standing in front of the establishment she was looking for. Looking down at the jacket she had clasped in her hooves and back up at the door, she gathered her courage and went in to find an elderly and benevolent looking stallion sitting at a desk, reading.
“Excuse me, sir?” She walked up to his desk.
He looked up from his work. “Yes?”
“I was wondering if you could tell me anything about a Mr. Nicholas Ward. I have his jacket for him,” Ella said confusedly, watching the expression on his kind old face.
“Nicholas’ jacket!” he exclaimed, and then nearly ran to a cupboard behind him and wrenched it open, digging through it. “How on earth did you happen to come into possession of it?” he asked, perplexed, sinking back into his chair.
“He– well, he lent it to me on the street yesterday when it was so cold out...” Ella said slowly, wondering what was wrong.
The old stallion scratched his head. “Impossible!”
“Excuse me, sir, but what’s impossible?”
“Miss... what did you say your name was?”
“I didn’t, but I’m Ella Fay,” Ella said.
“Well, Miss Fay, Nicholas has been dead for nearly ten years,” the stallion said with a strange expression on his face. “I was the only one in all of Ponyland who cared about the colt. He hadn’t a penny when he died– literally, he lived for his art!– and it was the coldest night of the year. He was found frozen_solid outside,” this stallion said mournfully. “I was his only friend, so I came to possess his works. Pure genius, but he never found anypony to buy them! They’re all in storage here. Would you like to see them?”
Ella’s mouth was hanging open. “It can’t be! He took me here and showed them to me last night!”
The elderly stallion just stared at her for a few minutes as though trying to find out if she was serious or not. “I’m sorry, Miss Fay. Nicholas is dead. I have all of his works here under his name.” And he took out a book to show her the records. Flipping through it, his mouth took the liberty of dropping open. “I can’t believe it!”
“Believe what– Mr...?”
“Mr. Boston... Miss Fay, all of his paintings have been re_signed under your name!”
“All of his paintings. I had kept them under his name, but... they’ve all been switched to yours! And– Holy Pony! It’s his handwriting!” Mr. Boston sat down hard in his chair, muttering over and over again in a disbelieving tone, “Impossible! Simply impossible!”
“Signed under my name? What does that mean?” Ella said, confused.
“It means, technically, all of his things belong to you! You, who’ve never met him except for his...” Mr. Boston gulped. “His ghost! Now tell me, what does he look like? There’s one way to be sure. He never had his picture taken, and there’s only one portrait of him in existence. One he painted himself shortly before his death. So tell me, what does he look like?” Mr. Boston leaned forward frantically.
“That portrait, sir, is covering over the door to my bedroom in Evermoor.” Ella said slowly.
“In Evermoor!? He would never tell me what he’d done with it, but it’s actually hanging in Evermoor!?” Mr. Boston said ecstatically. “Well then, I suppose it won’ t do any good to try and prove you’re wrong by that.” He sighed and thought for a moment. “You said he showed you all of his paintings last night? Describe them. Then we’ll know. There’s no one who’s seen them since he died except for me.”
So Ella began to describe all of them in detail leaving Mr. Boston openmouthed yet again. “You’re telling the truth! I– you– well, Miss Fay. I can’t do anything about it. All of his paintings are yours now. Even his jacket.” Mr. Boston said in resignation.
Ella looked down at the jacket she held. It was a ratty old thing, but it belonged to a poor but brilliant stallion. It took on new value for her. “Mr. Boston, Nicholas or his ghost or– well, I don’t know– but he said that it was his dream to have his paintings sold and hung in ponies’ houses. So he could be made immortal through his art like DaVinci or VanGogh. I’m only a poor author, but perhaps if we worked together... Mr. Boston, I’d like to show his work. We could put out flyers and sell his paintings to ponies, so his dream would come true.”
Mr. Boston started. “But where would we show them? I certainly don’t have enough jangles to rent anything!”
Ella thought about this for awhile. “We could tidy up part of your storage facility and use that!” she said finally. “Perhaps I could even convince Lady Charlotte to let me bring the self- portrait. Then it would be a complete collection!”
Ella spent quite a bit of the morning conspiring with Mr. Boston, and by the time she had to go to work, they had formulated their plan in entirety. Ella was just heading out the door when she stopped. “Mr. Boston, here you...” She held out the jacket.
Mr. Boston smilingly shook his head. “No, he gave it to you– in a way, at least. I’m sure he would rather you, a pretty young mare, keep it rather than me, a stuffy old stallion. It belongs to you, anyhow.”
Ella smiled. “Thank you.” And she left for work wearing her new coat and receiving many strange stares.
* * *
It seemed like no time at all, but in about a week Mr. Boston and Ella had gotten all one hundred and two of Nicholas Ward’s paintings together and displayed them in an empty portion of the storage facility. Even Lady Charlotte agreed to part with the homely old picture on Ella’s door, provided it was replaced as soon as possible.
They had an enormous turn_out! By the time everypony had left, Ella was exhausted. But every painting was sold! She was just leaving when Mr. Boston came trotting out with a very strange and indescribable expression on his face.
“What is it?” Ella asked concernedly.
“There’s something that belongs to you. Rather large, too.” Mr. Boston shook his head.
“Me, but I thought you said that was all of the paintings!”
“It was all the paintings! I was paging through my records and came to today. Supposedly someone came half an hour ago and placed something here under your name. No one’s brought anything at all for the past week. I’ve been refusing everything so we wouldn’t have any new stuff getting in our way. I thought it was quite odd, that this should appear, so I went and found it.” At this point Mr. Boston dragged a large, door-shaped object covered in brown paper out from behind a stack of stuff. “Whatever it is, it’s yours... and, incidentally, you’ll have to relinquish the title of ‘jangle_less author.’ You’re rich now! All of the money from his paintings is yours.”
“No,” Ella smiled. “It’s yours, Mr. Boston. I’m giving it to you so that you can help all the poor geniuses of Ponyland.”
Mr. Boston shook his head decidedly. “No, I can’t.”
“If it’s mine, then I can do what I wish with it. I’m giving it to you. And if you refuse, I promise you, I will bury it out under Evermoor’s front lawn.” Ella said defiantly.
Mr. Boston smiled. “Thank you, Ella!” he chuckled. “I’m sure if I were a ghost I’d make sure to come and haunt you! There isn’t a nicer mare in Dream Valley!”
“Oh, I’m sure there are very many!” Ella yawned. “Well, whatever it is, I suppose it would be best to keep it wrapped until I get it home. I’ll stop by tomorrow morning and tell you what it is.” Ella smiled and took the large object and carefully maneuvered it out the door
* * *
Once in the privacy of her tower room, Ella propped the thing against her bed. Louise and Lady Charlotte had already gone to bed, or she would have brought them to watch the unveiling. Carefully, Ella drew back the papers and let them fall to the floor. There was a portrait of her, Ella Fay, and her grandfather! Ella intended to sit down on her chair, but missed and ended up on the floor staring up at her likeness and her grandfather’s. Looking down at the bottom, right above the frame, Ella read the inscription.
“ ‘And over our heads floats the bluebird, singing of beautiful and impossible things, of things that are lovely and never happen, of things that are not, but should be!’ Oscar Wilde– the Decay of Lying”
Ella smiled and read on. “Created by Nicholas Ward, entitled ‘The Muse and her Guardian Angel’.” She felt tears springing to her eyes. “He said he’d never seen my grandfather! Perhaps they met in heaven then... oh, I wish I could have known you when you were alive!” she said as if she were talking to Nicholas himself, though, of course, he couldn’t possibly be there.
Well, she’d be able to replace the self portrait that had hung over the grotesque door. This was exactly the same dimensions. Yawning, Ella set the picture up against the wall where she could deal with it in the morning and crawled into the bed. She was asleep before her head hit the pillow.
In the stillness of the night, there came a sudden sound.
As Ella slept a familiar little giggle rang through the air, and if you had been in Ella’s tower room, you would have sworn you had heard someone whisper the words “Thank you!”
by Sugarberry (Sugrbery@aol.com)
The voices coming from the brilliantly colored hillside were as clear and vibrant as the crisp autumn weather that held Ponyland in the change of season that can be so poignant in the loss of heady summer days and the anticipation of bracing winter delights. Two of the voices that drifted on the air– along with the red and yellow leaves– were quite young, one being the lilting speech of an indigo blue filly whose yellow curls rivaled the tinctures of Mother Nature herself, the other a budding colt whose grey tint of both hair and body became a shadow in the extravagant shades of the landscape. These two, Tasha and Freckles, were involved in collecting the bounty of the season for their mother’s artistic pursuits and were loading baskets with the fiery orange berries of bittersweet, the golden pods of milkweed, and the tangled webs of grapevine.
Further up the hill amidst an outcropping of rocks that was shaded with a clumping of evergreens of various sizes sat two somewhat older ponies. The mare of crimson was leaning against a weathered rock of comfortable dimension; enfolded in her forelegs was a sleeping foal whose energy had been spent frolicking back and forth between his siblings and the ponies who watched over them. To her right and slightly behind her, a rose-red stallion sat as sentinel while basking in the afternoon sunlight. Neither of the ponies was talking, both simply enjoying the peaceful break in their busy agenda as they allowed the warmth and the beauty of this splendid day to sooth and mellow them as they listened with one ear to the prattling of the youngsters so busily engaged below them.
The mare, her head resting gently against that of the foal, allowed her thoughts to meander back down the years to when she was a filly Tasha’s age; and a frown marred her lovely face, for those memories contained none of the magic that permeated this halcyon autumn day; quite the opposite, she mused, thinking of the often lonely days she endured as the youngest in a family of ponies who prided themselves on their autonomous existence, superciliously shrugging off the ties that would bind them into a kindred unit.
She breathed deeply, taking in the clean, fresh scent of the foal; she touched the tip of his nose with a soft kiss that caused the babe to quaver and then snuggle more deeply into her side. A soft smile kindled on the mare’s face then as she delighted in the nearness of this trusting foal who recognized that he was safe in her loving care.
From his position, the stallion caught the beatific smile of the mare in profile, and his heart thudded. She was beautiful, compassionate, bright, and at this moment, completely desirable. He drank in her face and form, recalling the sound of her voice and the music of her laughter, the feel of her hoof in his, the enchanting way she often looked at him. He shivered now as her gaze swept back to encompass him, and he grinned.
“Palette has it made,” he noted, letting her understand with a sweep of his eyes that he was referring to the foal’s close proximity to her.
Garnet’s eyes twinkled in return. “You, Wishbone, are incorrigible.”
“No, my position six feet from you would make me painstakingly trustworthy.”
“That’s one of the things I like about you, ya’ know.”
“Then I’ll take pains to maintain your confidence.”
Their attention, fixed on one another as it was, was distracted as the voices of the two scavengers drew closer. Freckles, fighting the loaded baskets he was carrying, and Tasha, her forelegs full of a surplus of nature’s bounty, were arguing.
“Mom said to only get enough to fill the two baskets; you’ve collected enough to fill the house,” Freckles reprimanded his sister.
“But they’re all so pretty!” countered Tasha. “Mom can chose the ones she likes best.”
“She only wanted enough to finish her projects for Saturday’s flea market,” complained the colt.
Arriving at the rocks whereupon Garnet and Wishbone sat, Tasha slumped to the ground, dropping her load of leaves, branches, and berries, and pushed her mane back off her sweating forehead. “My brother’s lazy,” she informed the two.
“Am not!” retorted Freckles, settling the baskets carefully. “I listen to my mother... and she said two baskets full, not the whole woodland.” He threw out his foreleg to include the entire area.
“You two have found a lot of pretty things,” Garnet soothed. “I’m sure your mother’ll be pleased to have a choice on what she wants to use.”
“As long as us guys are the ones who have to struggle to get it all home,” Wishbone said, winking at Freckles.
“I can carry it,” bravely volunteered Tasha. “I want Mama to have the best.” She bestowed a condescending frown on her brother.
Freckles rolled his eyes and threw himself down at Wishbone’s hooves. “Girls!” he said under his breath, causing Wishbone to let out a hoot of laughter.
“You’ll learn to appreciate them,” the stallion advised the colt. Leaning over conspiratorially, he added, “They have their uses.”
Garnet, clearing her throat, glowered at Wishbone while a smile surreptitiously quivered on her lips. “And what uses might those be?” she dared.
“Daddy says they’re fun to have around sometimes,” Freckles interjected.
“Your father said that?” gasped Garnet, mentally promising to take Pepper to task as soon as possible.
“Mama said the same is true about stallions,” offered Tasha.
“How correct,” commented the mare drolly.
“I’ll be the first to admit that I couldn’t get along without them,” chivalrously responded Wishbone.
“So when are you going to marry Garnet?” the wisdom of youth– namely, Tasha– asked.
Garnet’s eyes grew round, and she dropped her gaze to the ground. Wishbone chuckled. It was not a bad question. All of their friends teased them often enough about the familiarity that was settling between the two of them– how they could anticipate each other’s wishes and bow to one another’s moods and accommodate any need. Tousling Tasha’s mane, he asked, “Do you think I should marry Garnet?”
Thinking only for a brief moment, Tasha answered, “Yes.”
Wishbone turned to Garnet who was very busily trying to look as if she was hearing none of this conversation by concentrating on brushing her hoof through Palette’s mane. As the mare continued to ignore him, Wishbone resumed his conversation with the foals. “Why?”
It was Freckles who provided a reason. “‘Cause she’s pretty.”
“She is, isn’t she?” Wishbone responded, and he was pleased to see the deepening of the color in Garnet’s cheeks– although she would not look his way. “Very pretty.”
“And you love her, don’t ya’?” queried Tasha. “Mama says that’s why ponies get married.”
His gaze so intense that Garnet could not ignore it any longer, Wishbone answered, “Yes, I do.”
“Then you should marry her,” reasoned Freckles.
All three ponies now looked at Garnet expectantly, but she had resumed her detached manner and was wafting her hoof toward a bee that was bothering her and Palette.
“What if she doesn’t want to marry me?” next pondered Wishbone.
“Have you asked her?”
“No. I’ve never proposed to anyone– I wouldn’t know what to say.”
Tasha shook back her curls and rolled her eyes expressively. “It’s easy... just ask her.”
“That doesn’t seem very romantic.”
“Oh! You need a ring!” the filly realized. “I’ll make you one.” She quickly retrieved some grasses from her load of natural pickings and began to braid them, after which she formed them into a circle.
“Very original,” Wishbone said, accepting the token. “If she accepts it, I’ll have you to thank.” He paused. “Is this all I need?”
“Yup,” chorused the two foals.
Freckles clarified, “Hold her hoof and look at her with puppy-dog eyes.” At Wishbone’s look of puzzlement, the colt added, “You know... like Daddy looks at Mama sometimes.”
A chuckle from Garnet encouraged Wishbone; uncurling from his comfortable perch, he brushed the leaves from his body and went to Garnet. Taking the sleeping foal from her forelegs, he settled the creamy yellow toddler in a nest of leaves at the base of a nearby rock. He returned to Garnet, and sat down beside her.
Wishbone took Garnet’s hoof in his and stared deeply into her eyes, quite conscious of Freckles and Tasha standing over his shoulder in rapt attention. But as he lost himself in Garnet’s violet eyes, he quite forgot about his audience; and even Freckles was satisfied with the ardent look in the stallion’s eyes.
If Garnet had thought that Wishbone was putting on an act for the sake of the foals, she was soon set straight on that account. The glowing look of warmth that radiated upon her from the stallion was undeniably real; she could read his heart in the flames. There was no doubt that he was serious.
“I do love you, Garnet; and I think we’ve been through enough together to know the best– and the worst– of each other. I find you the most fascinating mare I’ve ever met, and I’m coming to realize that I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” He paused, almost fearful to continue. “Garnet, will you marry me?”
Without breaking the gaze that seemed to bind them, Garnet lifted her free hoof and softly caressed Wishbone’s face. Right now she could only remember the best of their friendship; and anyway, together they would be strong enough to conquer the worst. “I will marry you, Wishbone,” she breathed, meeting him for the kiss that would seal their mutual destiny.
“The ring!” prompted Tasha, nudging the stallion in the side.
“Wear this as a sign of my love,” Wishbone said, slipping the makeshift engagement ring on her left foreleg.
“You are so sweet!” Garnet responded, hugging the stallion to her. “I love you so much.”
“Excuse me!” said a female voice coming on the scene. “Just what’s going on here?” The brusqueness of the statement was negated by the chuckle from the stallion at the mare’s side.
“Mama! Daddy!” Tasha cried, running to welcome her parents. “Wishbone and Garnet are going to get married!”
Garnet’s and Wishbone’s naturally bright cheeks suddenly darkened several shades as they stumbled to their hooves, but the joy in their newfound commitment could not be diminished. “Pepper, Rainbow Star, I’ve asked Garnet to marry me, and she’s accepted my proposal,” Wishbone informed the smiling couple.
“Well, it’s about time!” declared Pepper, coming forward to shake the stallion’s hoof and to kiss the mare’s cheek. “You’re a lucky guy, Wishbone; and, well, Garnet, you could have done worse... I suppose.”
Laughing, Garnet leaned into Wishbone. “I’m perfectly satisfied.”
“I’m so happy for you!” Rainbow Star beamed, hugging both in turn. “When’s the wedding?”
“There are a few details to work out yet,” Wishbone admitted with a grin. “Tasha was kind enough to supply a ring.”
As Pepper congratulated his daughter on her quick thinking, Rainbow Star asked, “Where’s Palette?” She looked around for her youngest foal.
“He was asleep,” Wishbone explained, “and we put him down over...” As his gaze went to the nest of leaves that had served as the foal’s bower, he stopped suddenly, a look of distress crossing his face. Garnet, at his side, mirrored the look; she followed Wishbone as he crossed the distance to the now empty cache of leaves.
“He was right here,” Garnet whispered, whipping around to scan the hillside and beyond.
“How long ago was this?” asked Pepper, holding his wife in a firm grip.
“Just... just a few minutes ago...” Wishbone admitted, “before I proposed.”
“He can’t have gone far. We’ll spread out from this point and cover the area.”
Rainbow Star gulped. “What... what if he headed for the river?”
“We’ll head that way first,” he said, trying to sound confident. “Freckles, you stay near Garnet; Tasha, you help Wishbone. Fan out so we don’t miss anything. Yell if you see him.” With that, he sprinted down the hill after his already running wife.
“Wishbone, this is the worst!” moaned Garnet. “We’ve lost Palette!”
“And now we’re going to find him,” declared Wishbone, sending them all into concerted action.
The sudden change from a cozy cuddle in Garnet’s forelegs to the rough, dry leaves on the ground hindered Palette’s snug slumber; the crackling of the leaves broke into his sweet dreams, and he opened his eyes to gaze upon the colorful leaves swaying overhead against the backdrop of the blue sky. Sitting up, the foal looked first to locate his guardians; seeing that they were nearby but otherwise occupied, he settled back to observe his surroundings more closely.
Much to Palette’s delight, he saw a brown rabbit sitting under the evergreen that spread its branches nearly to the edge of the rock that jutted behind him. A grin crossed the foal’s face as he gazed at the lagomorph’s steady gaze and twitching nose. Attempting to mimic that motion, Palette found his eyes crossing instead; this caused him to giggle, and that tinkling sound sent the rabbit scurrying away. Palette had no recourse but to follow.
“Palette!” Garnet called. “Palette! Where are you?” Her voice was echoed by Freckles’ shout, but no response came.
Palette, however, could hear his brother’s voice calling him from a point beyond the evergreens. “‘ide-and-‘eek,” the foal gurgled happily. He immediately sought shelter behind a cascade of colorful creeper vines that made a perfect hiding place, and he became all but invisible.
Keeping quiet and still, the small colt bided his time by examining the cool haven he had chosen for his sanctuary; and he was happy to note that, even though he had lost sight of the rabbit that had led him on a merry chase, he had now stumbled upon a reddish-brown and black caterpillar with whom he was sharing space. “‘att-a-illar,” he voiced, watching the furry beast amble across the curtain of leaves which shielded Palette from the world. It was a fascinating way to pass the time until Freckles would come upon him– which, from past experience, Palette knew he would– but the minutes dragged by; and Palette became impatient, especially after he touched the caterpillar which caused the slinky critter to roll itself into a tight circle and drop to the ground. Palette lost interest and crawled from his hiding place, fully expecting to see his brother; but no one was in sight.
No one had spotted the foal, and the searchers came together to reformulate their plans, “There’s no way he could have made it all the way to the river,” Pepper assured his wife. “We would have intercepted him if he was headed that way. He must be on the hillside somewhere.”
“Someone has to watch to make sure he doesn’t get past us and still manage to make it to the river, though,” Rainbow Star reasoned. “I’ll stay near the bottom of the hill and watch for him there.”
“The rest of you,” Pepper ordered, “will backtrack the area you’ve already covered. He’s got to be here somewhere.”
“Maybe he fell asleep again,” suggested Tasha.
“That’s possible.” Garnet grabbed on to that hope. “If he did, he might be hidden from view in a hollow or under a tree or somewhere difficult to spot him.”
“Okay, then. This time we’ll all have to check things more closely,” Wishbone agreed.
Having crested the hill, Palette found that the downhill side went much faster– so much so that by the time he was nearing the base, he lost control of his momentum and tumbled into a heap on the path that wound its way through the valley. Fortunately, he ended up at a point devoid of trees, while a slight list to the right or left would have found him tangled in the scratchy branches of one of several pine trees. However, the resultant scrapes on his forelegs stung badly enough, causing tears to well up in the foal’s eyes as he surveyed the damage to his own skin.
“You took the slope a bit too fast, urchin,” an unknown voice said from the path.
Looking up to see from whom the words came, Palette found himself facing a deep grey-toned stallion with a black mane. Too proud to let a stranger see his tears, the little colt rubbed his hooves against his cheeks and with a sniffle said, “Me faw.”