My Little Pony Monthly Issue 83 (February 1, 2004)
My Little Pony Monthly
A publication of Nematode (Electronic) Publishing
Established June 1997
This Newsletter is Safe for All Ages
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3. Welcome to Ponyland Part 4 (by Skye)
4. Agatha vs. Caprice, Round Two! (by Tabby and Sugarberry)
5. Dinner, Dancing, and Diamonds (by Sugarberry)
6. Wolfgang (by Clever Clover)
7. Silent Are the Bells Chapters 22-24 (by Sugarberry)
Congratulations to the winners!
Baby Dibbles ([email protected])
Berry Brite ([email protected])
BJ ([email protected])
Cherie ([email protected])
Jaye ([email protected])
Lil' Whiskers ([email protected])
Lofty ([email protected])
Mudd ([email protected])
Nibbles666 ([email protected])
PikaChan ([email protected])
Skye ([email protected])
Sweet Tooth ([email protected])
It was the Moochick, in the first My Little Pony television special of oh-so-many-names, who gave Megan and the rest of the ponies the Rainbow of Light. It's a very strange name for him, though, isn't it? Shouldn't a "moochick" be a creature crossed between a cow and a chicken?
And now, to announce the winner of the Avon prize:
Lofty! The Peachy Sheen lipgloss has YOUR name on it now! E-mail me your address and I'll send out your prize ASAP.
In honor of Valentine's Day, Hollywood the Flutter Pony banded with me to select the prize for Februrary. From Avon, it's a "Be My Valentine" eye gloss compact in a pretty lavender color (duly called "Hollywood", of course!) This creamy eye color gives eyes "a hint of sheer, pretty color". The compact comes filled with .12 ounces of eye gloss. Or, if you're a guy, you'll have a chance at a favorite toiletry item of the Big Brother Ponies: Wild Country soap-on-a-rope! To enter the contest, answer the following question correctly:
True or false: Squirk was a giant lobster (from the episode "The Ghost of Paradise Estate").
Tell me the answer by e-mailing [email protected] mailto:[email protected] entering through the form at
THE RULES! *ANYONE* can enter. That means anyone as in anyone. Even if you've already participated in the past, you can enter; in fact, I encourage you to do so. You don't even have to be a subscriber of MLP Monthly in order to enter. But if you're not a subscriber, you're probably not even reading this. ^.~
However, now that we've introduced *real* prizes, we will be putting a limit on how many times you can be entered in the drawing for that. If you've already been selected to win one of our prizes in the past, you can't be entered again- BUT, you can still participate and get your webpage graphic! So just because you've won something in the past doesn't mean you can't have any fun at all with our contests anymore. And, of course, if eventually all contest participants are ones that have won a prize, it's fair game for everybody again!
On the contest form at http://mlpmonthly.tripod.com/Contact.htm, you will be able to select your gender so we'll be able to determine which prize you get. Or, if you'd prefer to be opted out of the prize drawing, you can select that on the form as well. You'll still get your webpage graphic, however.
What, we asked last time, was your favorite pony name?
Pika-Chan ([email protected]) says...
I've always really liked the name "Moondancer". It's hard to explain why, I've just always thought it was very pretty.
Jaye ([email protected]) says...
Oh, there are so many good ones! But I think the one that really stands out for me is Up, Up, and Away.
Skye ([email protected]) says...
Hippity Hop SO adorable and one of my favorite ponies to boot! I even named a pet rabbit after here when I was younger.
And what random survey question have I come up with for this month...?
What is your favorite episode of the My Little Pony series?
The URL to enter at is:
Welcome to Ponyland
by Skye ([email protected])
Blue Belle was the first to awaken early the next morning. She yawned and stretched, and her light coating of fur rubbed against something. She remembered suddenly the new friend that could talk to her and turned her head to find she was still present by her side.
"Thought I left you in the night, did you?" Compassion asked with a slight smirk.
"Yes," the pony stated abruptly.
"Perhaps someday I might, but not today," she replied, leaning against the pony. "Why don't you have some grass and then we shall begin?"
"You'll see, but first you must eat." The Wish Fairy's voice was soft and pleasant, and her laughter made Blue Belle smile. It felt good to smile, and when Compassion began stroking her mane, that felt even better. She melted against the sensation and sighed with enjoyment. She was enjoying it so much she had to be reminded to continue with her breakfast.
"I've never felt anything like that," Blue Belle confessed.
"Well, you're very young," Compassion laughed again before standing. She took a couple steps away from Blue Belle and then turned back toward the pony. "Are you coming?"
"I can't move."
"You haven't tried this beautiful day. Try."
Blue Belle struggled to move cramped legs and stiff shoulders; and surprisingly, she found she could. She stiffly rose up on her legs, stretched, and then took a step toward her friend.
"See what you can accomplish when you try?"
* * *
The green pony had slept under the tree the night before and continued to doze under its protective branches when the smell of apples filled her nostrils. She felt warm rays of sunlight against her skin and struggled to remain in the comfortable position, but the smell was just too inviting. She opened her eyes and found a small pile of apples had been collected for her nearby. She didn't question her luck until she noticed the strange creature nearby. It was watching her. She didn't like that.
The pony, a lighter color than grass, was surprised for a moment as she had never seen anything like it, but quickly grew angry at the uninvited guest. She screamed, reared, and charged at the trespasser.
"Now that is no way to act," the creature told her and disappeared from sight. The apples followed; the pile was gone. In fact, all the apples that had been scattered on the ground under the tree were gone.
The pony charged around the tree several times and then resorted to kicking it, hoping to loosen an apple from the supple branches. Angered, the Ancient Apple did not let a single one fall free. He shook his branches angrily at her, the leaves seeming to hiss. The pony grew frightened and retreated back a moment, trying to comprehend what had just happened.
The pony nickered softly to the tree and then stomped her hooves when it ignored her plea for a fresh apple. A crunching sound came from behind her, and floating in the air was the creature and the apples! The pony approached it by running in circles and jumping at the gathered delectable. Laughter followed her attempts, and this further angered the pony. She screamed again and lunged but could not get her hooves high enough in the air to kick her antagonizer.
"Stop this behavior, little miss, or no more apples for you. Ever!" This statement filled the little ponies ears and she froze in place, understanding what it meant. "That's much better," the Wish Fairy told her and tossed an apple in her direction. The green greedily devoured it along with a few clumps of sweet grass, and then stomped her hooves, demanding another. "You have much to learn, little one."
* * *
Back in the castle, the pink pony was visited by her own Wish Fairy. At first she appeared before the injured creature as a great ball of glowing light but then settled before her in the form she most commonly wore. She reached out gentle hands toward the frightened pony and touched her mind as her fingers touched her pink fur. Do you know what the hardest thing to earn but the easiest to lose is? The answer is Trust, and that is who I am. If you trust me, I can heal your wounds.
Cotton Candy was desperate and miserable. At that time she would have agreed to about anything to make the throbbing pain in her knees cease. She shook her head in agreement and the Fairy's hands fell toward her knees. The glowing light covered the bloodied wounds and they quickly began to heal.
"How did you do that?" she asked as the wounds closed and the aching went away.
"If there is trust between friends, anything is possible, Cotton Candy. I am here to show you that."
* * *
As soon as the sun woke up the pair of violet ponies, they were back to their old tricks again and began sparing in the field. Two Wish Fairies appeared between them. The sudden appearance startled the pair and sent them running in opposite directions. The Wish Fairies each took a pony and followed, making sure the cruel pair would not reunite for further battling.
The one that followed the lighter of the two kept a reasonable distance away while the other chased and lunged at the darker.
"Blossom," the Wish Fairy called out neither too loudly nor too softly. "Blossom, please be my friend." The lavender shook her head and continued a steady pace from the floating creature. She eventually grew tired but she continued her retreat. The Fairy stayed close by and did not push her. She did not want to frighten the pony; she just wanted her to accept her.
As for Snuzzle, she was accosted by her pursuer who not only chased her but attacked her as well, pulling hair and swatting her back end with twigs. It wasn't until Snuzzle charged back and attacked the Wish Fairy that he stopped his pursuit of her.
The Fairy landed, graced her with the deepest of bows, and said, "I knew you out of all the others were most like me. You are courageous and I admire that in any creature. In the battle ahead you will need your wits and bravery. Come, Lady Snuzzle, let us make peace and I will teach you all you need to know." Snuzzle's head cocked as she wondered if she should trust the strange-looking creature.
* * *
Perfection admired the golden pony and sought her company, but the pony was not to be for her. Justice claimed Butterscotch for himself and Perfection would not admit Compassion had been right about the newcomers needing to know their past and their purpose to understand their place in the world. She would never admit to that, but she did continue to admire the golden just the same.
Justice made his claim and sought out the golden; but just as the others had done and would do, he would put her through a test. Nothing too dramatic, but he needed to test her heart even if he already knew what was in it. He needed to see if the pony herself knew. He created a little scene in the forest, one he would make sure she discovered.
* * *
Blue Belle was enamored with her new friend. She frolicked like a baby running in tight circles around the Wish Fairy. Compassion joined the game and eventually climbed on her back. At first the sensation startled her and she reared up.
Compassion floated off of her, but the pony coaxed her back. "I'm sorry, I was just startled. It seems so strange that I have never done these things before. Everything is so new. Please climb back on my back."
Compassion nodded her reply and remounted. The light blue pony took a few steps, adjusting to the weight and the sensation of the Wish Fairy's legs rubbing against her sides. Next, she trotted around in circles, Compassion holding her thick mane for support.
"Am I hurting you, Blue Belle? Am I pulling your hair?"
"No, not at all. Tighten your legs around my waist; I'm going to do some flying of my own."
The Wish Fairy did as she was told, but before she could explain that earth ponies could not fly, Blue Belle bolted from her position and charged across the fields. A rhythm overcame them and the pair were in harmony as she took on a more steady gallop. She changed direction and darted into a lightly treed forest, gathering up a herd of antelope. They accompanied the pair across the meadows, through puddles of water, and even up a gently climbing hill.
Once reaching the top, the pair stared over the land, admiring its beauty. The antelope settled, sensing the running game was over. They thanked Blue Belle for the enjoyment and went back to grazing.
"I don't understand their language," Blue Belle told her friend.
"Very few do," she replied, stroking her neck for comfort. "When encountering new creatures, you need only know what lies in their heart. If you know this, then you know what they are saying. Look for your friends for help and know your enemies. Remember me and what my name means when you encounter new creatures and places. To have Compassion for others will guide you in the right direction, and it will expose your enemies for what they are. Compassion is a very powerful tool if you know how to use it."
"I will try, but I don't understand."
"I will explain to you tomorrow. Try not to worry; let us just enjoy the day."
"All right, I'll try."
* * *
It wasn't long before Butterscotch found the area; it was the noisy commotion, really, that alerted her to it. She followed the noise and saw before her a small band of antelope picking on an injured rabbit. The animals were kicking at it and stomping about trying to crush it under their cloven hooves. A few others poked and prodded it with their sharp horns.
Why would antelope be bothering a rabbit, and what set them off in the first place? Questions such as these did not enter into her mind; the only thing that did was that it was wrong and she was going to stop it. She balked, then charged at the gathering, crashing right into the long horned animals. She screamed and lashed out with teeth and hooves until they fled from the area. The rabbit, no longer injured, ran up and thanked the pony. It hugged her legs and then scurried off, leaving her alone.
Butterscotch smiled, feeling good and useful for the first time since her arrival to this strange world. She suddenly thought of the others that were with her and turned back to the river which she followed to get into the forest. She charged back through the forest and then raced back along the river toward the castle.
Justice, who had been floating about the scene the whole time, smiled and returned home. His work there was done. Butterscotch now had a purpose. She knew what it was and so did he.
* * *
The green stomped again at the Wish Fairy. "When has that ever worked?" it asked her. She snorted and trotted off, tired of the apple sharing game. This creature was annoying her and it was smart enough not to get near enough for her hooves to make contact. She had to do things the Wish Fairy told her in order to get what she wanted. She knew she was being manipulated and she didn't like it. She reasoned that if there was one apple tree, there might be another; and she was going to find it rather than tolerate this thing floating above her head.
"Where are you going? You can't leave now; I'm not done and there are tons of apples left." Minty ignored the Wish Fairy and charged down the hill to begin her search. "Is it really that hard?" the Fairy asked, blinking in front of the green.
Averting a collision, she veered left and skidded to a stop, her rump hitting the ground as her back legs went out from under her. "Ouch!" Minty wailed.
"I'm sorry, but I didn't want you to leave just yet," the Wish Fairy told her.
"Why not? Who are you?"
"I'm Patience, something you need a good lesson in."
"Leave me alone!"
"You didn't answer my question."
"What question?" she asked sourly as she rose from the ground, her rump stained a darker green from the grass marks.
"I asked if it was hard?"
"If what was hard?" she snapped crossly.
"Why should I? I found this tree yesterday, so why should I ask for what's mine!"
"Because it's not yours. The Ancient Apple is its own. It shares its apples because it likes you, so you better stop kicking it or it may never drop another to the ground for you and the others."
"What do you want? Why do you keep bothering me?"
"I want to be your friend," she told the pony.
"You can't be my friend. You're not a pony. A pony can only be a pony's friend."
"Well, that is silly; but if that is all that is stopping you from being my friend, then I can fix the problem." The Fairy disappeared and in place of her was a pony. She was exactly like Minty in every way including her clover birthmarks, except that she was a darker shade of green. "Does that help? Now can I be your friend?"
"I don't need a friend. What is a friend good for anyway?" Minty continued to charge down the hill.
"Friends are good for lots of things! Like racing!" She galloped behind Minty, slowly catching up until they ran side by side. Minty would veer and the other followed; it quickly became a game for the two. She charged back up the hill and around the tree. Minty taught the Wish Fairy pony her catch-leaf game, and they had a contest of who could catch the most.
Later, the pair ate and rested under the Ancient Apple, listening to the soft rustling of its leaves. "You know what?" Minty asked her new friend.
"I think friends are good to have after all."
"Me too." The pair lay side by side, heads supporting each other as they fell asleep.
* * *
Violet eyes watched her friends, her family, frolic in the flowering fields of the secluded valley. She had not wished to ruin their enjoyment of the day, but it was time, this she knew. Change was upon them; she had been ignoring the signs for days and it could no longer be delayed. She rose from her quiet place of rest and overlooked the beautiful valley in a moment of silence. She gazed at it as if it was the last she would see of it. Perhaps she was right, perhaps not. She knew many things, but this she did not know. She snorted away her doubt and then called to her friends.
The timekeeper called, and all came to hear her speak, as she very seldom did. Even Water Lily abandoned her pond, Cosmos her shadowy dark forest, and Morning Glory- who was rarely ever seen after the noon setting of the sun- now raced alongside the others until they reached Holly, who was standing on her large rock which oversaw the entire valley.
"It is now time, my friends, my sisters; we must go back," she announced to all.
Daffodil shuddered while Chrysanthemum held her breath against the news. "Are you sure now is the time, Holly?" Carnation, the unofficial leader, asked.
"I'm positive," she replied confidently. "The others have arrived. They will need us; this I'm sure."
The group shook their heads in agreement, including Daffodil and Chrysanthemum, who more so than any others dreaded this day of all days. They looked toward the darkening sky in the East and shook their heads again. Holly took her place among the others, jumping down from the rock. They said their goodbyes to their valley and their friends who lived within it. They promised to return if they were able.
Carnation, leading the others, began down the steep hill through the valley and up over the other side heading West. They would return to the castle where they came from and face whatever peril might meet them there.
Agatha vs. Caprice, Round Two!
by Tabby ([email protected])
(with most of the luncheon scene by Sugarberry ([email protected]) )
What, I struggled with the problem of, could I do to lighten up a potentially tedious and serious court session? Then the answer came to me: Bushwoolies.
"Oh, Elaine! Come in, come in. I haven't seen you in ages," Tabby greeted her sister-in-law effusively. "What brings you here? I have just been dying for someone to gossip with!"
Elaine giggled. "That's funny; I thought we just saw each other the other night at Mom's. Actually, Thomas said you might like the company. And apparently he was right!"
"I am quite bored out of my skull," Tabby affirmed.
"Well, how are you holding up?" Elaine asked, unwinding the scarf from around her neck. "The time between now and June will be gone before you know it! What does Faline think of having a little brother or sister?"
"Oh, I told her it would be like having someone like Banderol to boss around all the time. She's quite looking forward to it."
Elaine laughed. "I'm sure she'll make an admirable big sister. It's so exciting, though! Aren't you just thrilled?"
"Yes, but I'm also dreading it, thinking of what my mom will do with another grandchild," Tabby sighed languidly.
"Oh, I've heard you and Agatha have been having some misunderstandings about that," Elaine said carefully.
"Misunderstandings!" Tabby repeated scornfully. "Yes, that's a nice way of putting it... but it's really quite dreadful what my mother is doing! Caprice is the nicest of ponies, but Mom must insist on her exclusive rights to Faline. I am beginning to wonder if she even thinks I should have any time with Faline," she said, laughing hollowly.
"Oh, is it really that bad?" Elaine said sympathetically. "There must be a way to work things out between everyone, though, isn't there?"
"If you think of anything, let me know," Tabby said, unconvinced of an easily viable solution to the grandmother rivalry. "I don't suppose you and Alan have any news in that quarter? Perhaps my mom would lay off some if Caprice had a grandchild from the Fairfax side of the family..."
"Oh, no, not yet," Elaine said, although she colored up a bit. "Though I hope..." she trailed off.
"Yes, you'll have fun with baby ponies of your own," Tabby mused. "At least Alan's sister already has about a few million kids; there shouldn't be too much competition between grandparents for yours," she said idly.
Elaine laughed at the exaggeration. "Constance only has four, which hardly constitutes 'a few million'. But I'm sure she wouldn't mind that many!"
"Hmm," said Tabby, her mind wandering off.
"What will you be doing for your birthday?" Elaine changed the subject.
"Oh, probably quarreling some more with Mom. She'll say, 'Oh, I'll be glad to baby-sit Faline and get her off your hooves for awhile. Won't that be a special treat for your birthday!' And then she'll get all huffy when I try to explain it would be more of a special treat to actually have Faline with me. And then-"
Elaine sighed in commiseration. "I feel so bad that you have to worry about such conflict all the time! I would hate to be on such shaky ground with my mother. Surely you'll work out your differences soon!"
"You are very idealistic, but unfortunately it is very unrealistic," Tabby shook her head.
* * *
Elaine's visit prompted Tabby to, in her free time, visit the rest of her female friends to catch up on recent happenings, since she had not seen some of them- at least on terms of a private gossip- for some time. Her cousin Tamara was first on the list. Tamara had eloped with a rock star several years ago, but Philippe had since given up the more exacting career of a stage star for a more quiet life as a songwriter living in Dream Valley with his wife and their son.
"Hi, Tabby! Hi, Faline!" Tamara greeted her cousin and daughter to her home. "Hugh is playing in the living room if you want to join him," she confided to the baby pony.
"Okway," said Faline, darting past Tamara into the house.
"Hugh has been so excited ever since I told him Faline was coming over," Tamara grinned, leading Tabby into the house at a more leisurly pace. "He is quite impressed with her."
"Faline has quite a following of admirers already," Tabby agreed. "She can boss both Banderol and Hugh around to her heart's content, and they'll do anything she tells them to."
"Hmm... something like her mother, isn't she?" Tamara hinted. Before Tabby could reply, she steered the conversation onto safer ground. "Geneva had her litter on Friday. I'll let you take a peek at them if you promise not to disturb them."
"Ooh! Kittens!" Tabby squealed. "Show me!"
Tamara rolled her eyes but led her cousin into the basement of the old house, which housed Tamara's home business- a cattery of fine show-quality felines. Tamara bred and raised the finest breeds to find homes among the more affluent families of the area.
"There's one mare flying all the way from New Pony next week to see about adopting one of my Siamese," Tamara boasted proudly. "Her aunt had adopted one from me last year and gave her niece such rave reviews that she's willing to come such a distance, just to adopt one of mine!"
"You are getting so high-class!" Tabby said. "But where are the kittens... oooh!!" She broke off as she saw the specimens in question. "They're so c-yute!" A litter of five newborn Burmese kittens wriggled and squirmed around their mother.
"Shhh," Tamara warned, patting Geneva on the head. "No loud noises."
"You have very nice kittens," Tabby pronounced to Geneva, patting her also. "I'll be back to see them again when they are older and your mistress here trusts me to handle them." She waved merrily to the family and then made her way through the rest of the room, looking in on the rest of the inhabitants.
"Oh, you didn't have this Bombay before, did you?" Tabby exclaimed, coming to one enclosure. "What's her name?"
"It's a he, and his name is Merle," Tamara revealed.
"What a handsome fellow!" Tabby nodded her approval. "Speaking of Bombays, do you know what Tiffany has done with her Theodora?"
"I believe she's been established at Guido's villa; that stallion is so smitten with his bride that he relented on his 'no pets' rule," Tamara smiled. "I actually just got a postcard from Tiffany herself, and she and Guido are finally enjoying their honeymoon in the Ponyland Riviera after she finally cleared her calendar of any prior commitments. Tiffany could use a good long vacation with Guido, with all the vigor she's been working the past year!"
"Such a strange turn of events!" Tabby said. "I hope she comes back to Dream Valley again sometime. I need to see what this newest version of Tiffany is like. From all reports she's found her niche at the halfway point between ultra-snobby and ultra-charitable. I must admit her ultra-charitable side was beginning to get to me."
"Guido will be good for her," Tamara agreed. "Hopefully she'll throw fabulous parties like she used to do! It was nice seeing her so giving of herself, but I do miss those lovely, glamorous balls at the Royal Paradise!"
Tabby laughed suddenly. "I wonder what it would have been like if I had married Guido all those years ago."
"What? You would actually have been so callous as to jilt Thomas when Guido came into the church like that and protested?" Tamara asked incredulously.
"Oh, no," Tabby waved her hoof through the air. "He had asked me before, you know. It was really very funny, too, because I was that close to accepting..."
"What?" Tamara gaped. "I thought you didn't like him!"
"Oh no, we were great friends ever since college together in Italy," Tabby said complacently. "Of course, I never thought of marrying him until I went back to visit again. Butextraneous circumstances prevented that, fortunately."
"I'm glad you went with Thomas instead, but to pass up a marriage proposal from the richest stallion in Ponyland-!" Tamara shook her head. "You probably have no comprehension of the envy other mares would have for you if they knew."
"Hey, don't complain. You scored a rock star, remember?"
* * *
Meanwhile, Faline was puzzling over what kind of game to instigate with the items in Hugh's toybox. She scorned the mundane blocks, stacking rings, and chunky plastic ponies. These were not worthy of her attention, and there was very little else left. She turned back to Hugh with a dire announcement. "Your twoys are all bowing. There is nwothing I can do with thwem." She shut the lid on the toybox purposefully.
"Okway, F'wine," Hugh said dutifully, bowing to her superior knowledge. "What we do?"
Faline sat on the floor and gave this considerable thought, but then started as her gaze settled on a new decoration adorning the fireplace mantle. "Oooh, what is thwat?" She climbed up onto a nearby chair to get a better look at the lava lamp Philippe had brought back from a recent business trip.
"Wava wamp," Hugh supplied.
"This is vwery fwascinating," Faline murmured in awed accents, entranced by the neon green gobs of goo floating in dark blue liquid. So intent was she that she forgot all about Hugh, who got bored and wandered off. Like the author of this story, who got bored of this scene and became entranced by HER lava lamp.
* * *
"Tabby!" Bolivia opened the door of the Dark Forest shack to admit her friend. "How nice to see you! You came alone? In your condition, shouldn't you-"
"I was bored," Tabby explained, entering the shack. Well, at least the place finally had some homey aspects added to it to better recommend itself to visitors now that Butch had a wife. With Bolivia's touch, the two-room shack now boasted curtains, rugs, some decorative knick-knacks, and an overall more orderly appearance than when it had been a bachelor's abode. "So, how are things with you?"
"Oh, I'm afraid Butch is up to no good again by the way he has been going out all the time," Bolivia sighed, shaking her head. Tabby wondered if she was speaking of her husband or son. "He is so very... consistent with mischief."
Tabby nodded wisely. "He always makes out all right, anyway, though. I wouldn't worry about it. Hah-hah, I always like seeing him put Tex in his place..."
"Those two scoundrels!" Bolivia said, but smiled fondly at the recollection. "They did liven things up in my homeland when they came, though. They must have caused a lot of trouble when they were growing up here, didn't they?"
"Well, we didn't see much of Butch," Tabby admitted. "He didn't show up at school often. But Tex, oh, he was the worst. Putting worms in my lunchbox, and following me around, striking up uncomfortable conversations, asking me out-!" She shuddered. Yes, Tabby did like to brag about her past conquests, no matter how distasteful she made them sound.
Bolivia giggled. "You should have been flattered by his attentions. I certainly was. I couldn't make up my mind for a long time over who I loved most, Butch or Tex."
"And what finally tipped the scales?"
"Well, Butch was the first to return to my country after he and Tex had moved on- they had both made me a similar promise before they left Bolivia, you see, that they would return as soon as they could to claim my hoof," Bolivia explained. "Well, I had to wait eight years, without a word from either of them, and by then you may be sure I had written them both off as unprincipled miscreants-! But then Butch turned up on my doorstep again, and I just couldn't hold it against him." She sighed blissfully.
"How romantic!" said Tabby.
"Yes, and I am very happy to be his wife, even with all the worries he causes," Bolivia agreed complacently.
"And how is Baby Butch?" Tabby asked. "Is he here or with his father?"
"Napping in the crib, thank goodness!" Bolivia said passionately. "Butch hasn't started involving him in his schemes, yet."
"Hopefully you'll have at least another year before he goes outlaw," Tabby reassured her.
"Yes, if that long," Bolivia agreed, shaking her head again.
* * *
"Tabby!" Sapphire exclaimed, running up to her cousin-in-law in the Pony-Mart toy section. "I'm so glad I ran into you! I need your help!"
Tabby was staring up at the display of My Little People, thinking if she stared long enough new characters would appear. "Oh?" she said curiously.
"A rival firm out in New Pony is putting out a My Little People collectors' guide later this year," Sapphire said in a hushed voice. "Fairfax/Monk needs to publish a better one before that. Are you up to it?"
"Ooohhhh!" Tabby said slowly. "You want me to do a My Little People guide?"
"Yes! You're the best expert on them that I know, anyway," Sapphire beamed. "That's excellent! I'll have Chicory get in touch with you to talk about the details."
"Sure!" said Tabby brightly. She liked spur-of-the-moment arrangements. And oh, there were so many ideas for a My Little People guide...
"Hey... there hasn't been anyone asking for me, has there?" Sapphire asked abruptly before turning away. "I mean... maybe not asking for me, but looking for me-?"
"At the vet clinic, you mean?" Tabby said, cocking her head in puzzlement. "No... why?"
"Oh, it's just that... it's nothing, really," Sapphire concluded. "I'm probably just being silly. But if you see any stallions that are, you know..." she trailed off. "Well, I've gotta run! See you later!"
"Ooookay," said Tabby to herself, wondering what was up in Sapphire's world. Was that a romantic intrigue she had detected...?
* * *
"Oh, hello, Marina," Tabby said a bit warily, meeting her co-worker while out shopping. "I haven't seen you outside of work for awhile."
"Yes, I've been experimenting with a fascinating new medical concept," Marina said eagerly. "I just had to step out of my apartment quick to pick up some supplies." She gestured towards the shopping bag she held. "The results so far are promising, judging from Way-Loh's reaction to the treatment."
"Wah-Loh?" Tabby echoed. "You have a Furby?"
"Yes, and he makes a most obliging test subject- lab assistant, I mean," Marina corrected herself.
Tabby paled, and stepped back. "What sorts of things are you doing to him?"
"Oh, nothing that dangerous," Marina said vaguely. "And he loves helping. He always says 'big fun!' when I tell him it's time for another test!"
"Well, I guess as long as he's happy," Tabby said skeptically.
"Oh, he's very happy," Marina assured her. "And I must tell you that you were totally right about coming here to Dream Valley. Neil is so supportive of all my endeavors, and he totally understands where I'm coming from. I've never met anyone like him before; he is the greatest stallion imaginable," Marina sighed happily. "Of course, it was no thanks to you that I ended up finding him. If I had left it up to you, I'd still be waiting for the perfect stallion to come into my life."
"Well, pardon me," Tabby said stiffly. "Your demands were very exacting and difficult to meet."
"And yet you never thought to introduce me to Neil," Marina shook her head in wonderment. "Well, gotta run. See ya later!" The rather unusual veterinarian scurried off again before Tabby had time to reply.
* * *
"What lovely frosting!" Tabby sighed in rhapsody.
The cake under consideration was waiting on the counter at Chocolate Chip's home while a number of mares milled about the kitchen and great room of the impressive house that until recently had been Wigwam's domain alone. Tabby didn't really understand why everyone was so interested in the house when there were lovely frosting roses to contemplate.
"I never knew that Wigwam had such a splendid place," commented Fern, eying the dinette with an assessing eye.
"I did not think that any of Butch's friends had such enormous houses," agreed Bolivia in wide-eyed awe as she rubbed her hoof along the fine woodwork that framed the doorway.
"He never talked about his house," Sugarberry noted, "so no one really gave it much thought. It is beautiful, though, isn't it? Chocolate Chip has done well for herself." She grinned at the chocolate brown mare who was hosting this birthday luncheon for Tabby and Tamara, a spontaneous respite from the snowbound days of late.
"Your mother can't have any complaints about your status in life now," Tabby stated cheerfully.
Chocolate Chip giggled. "She was rather like Elizabeth Bennett who only began to look at Darcy with approval after she saw his grand estate."
"That's not how I remember it," Tabby argued, recalling her high school book report on Pride and Prejudice. "Elizabeth had been inclined to think better of him before that; it just took time to get over the fact that Wickham had insidiously lied about Darcy's character! It wasn't just seeing the estate; though granted, that would be a definite bonus."
"The view is fabulous!" Marina approved, interrupting the literary discourse. She stood looking out the patio doors to the deck which faced the not-too-distant Dark Forest. Everyone else agreed with her assessment.
"Thank you all for your compliments."
"Could I bring Alan to visit sometime?" queried Elaine as she sat down. "We'd like to build a house in the near future, and this place can give us lots of ideas."
"My cats would love to run up and down that open stairway!" Tamara sighed. "By the way, Chocolate Chip, have you and Wigwam given any more thought to acquiring a feline house-mate?"
"Umm, to tell the truth, we really haven't talked about it," the newlywed mare admitted, not wanting to take on the chores that accompanied the keeping of a house cat, pedigreed or not. Happy to change the subject, she invited the mares to take their places at the dining room table.
"Where's your husband?" asked Sapphire.
"Someone has to work," Chocolate Chip grinned at her sister-in-law, Garnet, who was playing hooky for an hour or two from the casino.
"You keep plenty busy managing Tiffany's charitable finances," that mare returned.
"It has become quite a responsibility now that Tiffany divides her time between Dream Valley and Vulcanopolis," Chocolate Chip admitted.
"It's too bad Tabby never got around to introducing me to Guido, either," sighed Marina, casting an accusatory glance at the unicorn. "There are so few stallions out there that are truly suave and handsome and..."
"Rich?" supplied Tabby, causing a tinkle of laughter from the others. Marina merely tossed her curls.
"I like the rough edges on my stallion," Bolivia said complacently.
"That would explain your former interest in Tex," Tabby put forth. Bolivia took no offense.
"It's a good thing we all have a different criteria to judge the perfect stallion," smiled Sugarberry, "or we'd all be after the same guy."
Merry Moments agreed. "We've done pretty well for ourselves, haven't we?"
"All except Marina and Sapphire," Tabby pointed out.
"You know that Neil and I have become very good friends," Marina retorted, tossing her curls again. "No thanks to you, of course."
"And that's a good thing?" teased Tamara. Dr. Neil was a proficient- but unorthodox- physician.
"He and I have a lot in common," defended Marina. "He is just so understanding and clever and ingenious and adventurous and..."
"And what of you, Sapphire?" Tamara wanted to know. "Have you met anyone since coming to Dream Valley?"
The mare blushed slightly. "No one I could name," she hedged. That evasive comment caught everyone's attention, especially Tabby's.
"I've witnessed some strange behavior from you recently," Tabby charged her. "As Thomas' cousin... and as it's my birthday... you owe me an explanation."
"Yes! Do tell!" added a chorus of voices.
"I don't mean to be secretive," explained the deep blue mare. "It's just... well... I've been getting gifts from a secret admirer."
"Ooh!" said Tabby. "What kind of gifts?"
"Oh, just little things," Sapphire said vaguely, not wanting to divulge the rather guarded secret of her past, that she used to have aspirations as a flute player, and her secret admirer had picked up on this. "But he seems to know me so well!"
"And you have no idea who this pony is?"
"Not the foggiest. Although..."
"Remember your Halloween costume ball, Tabby? There was an astronaut there and he was kind of attentive... I never found out who he was, but I've always had this feeling that he was the one sending the gifts," Sapphire shared.
This piece of information caused an eruption of chatter as the mares tried to recall this particular party animal. "An astronaut, you say? I remember him!" exclaimed Marina. "I tried to interest him in a dance, but he blatantly refused... said he was looking for someone."
"Oh! How romantic!" cooed Fern. "He had eyes only for Sapphire!"
"I vaguely remember the costume, but I don't think the pony was there for the midnight unveiling," Merry Moments recalled.
"If he sends gifts, you must have seen his hoof-writing," reasoned Garnet.
Sapphire shook her head. "Everything's been computer generated."
Unable to go any further with this ongoing mystery, the girls turned to other matters, much to Sapphire's relief.
"Who's watching your twins?" asked Elaine of Merry Moments.
"Their dad. So if I seem kind of nervous, that's the reason why."
The other girls giggled. "Quarterback doesn't take well to this father business?" Fern queried.
"Oh, he's great with them... as long as they're sleeping," Merry Moments revealed. "He's a little leery yet of feeding them, however, or of keeping them entertained when they're awake."
"The foals must be, what... about a month old?" asked Bolivia, herself the mother of a seven-month-old colt.
"Three weeks exactly," beamed the mother.
"What are their names?" Marina asked.
"Lombardi and Lambeau," smiled Merry Moments. "Lombardi is white with green and gold hair; his sister is gold with green hair."
"I've never heard names like those before," Bolivia admitted.
"Quarterback chose them... of course," Merry Moments rolled her eyes. "The names have to do with his favorite football team, the Green Bay Packers. Lambeau Field is where they play and Vince Lombardi was their greatest coach ever."
"How did Quarterback become such a fan of a human football team?" Chocolate Chip wondered.
Merry Moments grinned, having heard the story direct from her husband countless numbers of times. "When he was a young colt," she explained, "one Sunday afternoon, watching TV, there were some freak satellite interferences that caused the television set to pick up a station out of the human world. A Packer game was playing then, and Quarterback was enthralled with their skill and energy! He's been a huge fan of theirs ever since and follows their progress as closely as he can."
"Why didn't he become a football player here in Ponyland?" Tamara asked. "He certainly has the name and symbol to go with it!"
"I guess he just prefers watching it from afar rather than actually taking part," Merry Moments said. "Though his brothers are big football fans, too; and they both became instrumental in setting up an organized Ponyland football league."
"Oh yes, Score and Touchdown!" Sugarberry said. "They've made big names for themselves. And to think we went to school with them!"
"Are they older or younger than Quarterback?" Fern asked.
"Score is a couple of years older, and Touchdown one year younger," Merry Moments filled in.
"We ran into them a lot at school functions, though," Sugarberry reminisced. "Tabby, in fact, was sweet on Score for awhile!"
"What!" Tabby burst out, having been rather quiet since Quarterback's brothers had been mentioned. "That's nonsense!"
"I thought it looked like you two were more intimately acquainted than what you let on, Tabby, when Score was in town for his brother's wedding," Tamara pondered.
"Hardly that!" Tabby protested. "I knew him... a little. It wasn't like I had a crush on him or anything!" This was one conquest- if indeed it were a conquest- Tabby would not talk about.
"We never accused you of that, Tabby," Tamara said, hiding a smile.
Sensing her friend's discomfort, Sugarberry began on a new vein. "Cockleburr came to babysit with Banderol the other evening, and he brought Teddy with him."
"Hmm, I would have thought he had outgrown stuffed animals by his age," Tabby commented.
"Not a teddy bear, Tabby; Teddy, the colt." Sugarberry rolled her eyes. "Anyway, Teddy saw Banderol's Puffalump and recognized it as one he had found on Christmas Eve lying in the path where Banderol must have dropped it when we left for Woodlawn."
"So why did he toss it away in the park?" queried Tabby in disgust. "I knew that colt was untrustworthy!"
"Actually, he gave it to Baby Noddins."
"And Baby Noddins threw it away? Wait until I see that filly again!"
"No, no, no, Tabby. I did some checking, and it seems Noddins passed it on to Baby Curlylocks who gave it to Gavel when he was recovering from his surgery."
"Strange names, no meaning..." Tabby said vaguely.
Sugarberry ignored her friend. "And Gavel had a houseguest who was feeling depressed, so he gave him the Puffalump, thinking it would cheer him up. But... Dangler, I think his name was, turned it over to that young mare that works at the bank..."
"Adalee?" Chocolate Chip prompted.
"Yes, Adalee. And Adalee was watching Mesquite and the foal fell in love with it, so she let him take the Puffalump home."
"So Mesquite lost it in the park!" Tabby determined.