Ginseng and Sassafras Tea: Chapter Seven
written by Sugarberry

Hood had no sooner gotten back to the shop when a phone call came for him. It was his sister, Stardrift, the oldest sibling in the family.

"Stardrift! I'm glad you called. How are Moonglow and Checker holding up to the bad press?"

"Checker is working as usual, but Moonglow is upset."

"I was afraid of that. It's not good for her or her baby."

"I know. That's why I'm calling. I've convinced her to lie down and try to get some sleep. I thought maybe we could get together for supper at my house tonight for some family support and morale building."

"Great idea!" Hood stated, then paused.

"Anything wrong, Hood?"

"It's just that I visited the newspaper office. I went there to try to reason with this Free Lance pony, and guess what I found?"


Hood's voice rose. "How'd you know?"

"Moonglow told me. She recognized her yesterday when she came to interview Checker, but she was in no mood to chat."

"She annoyed me all through high school, Stardrift. Now she turns up again to haunt me!"

Stardrift giggled.

"This isn't funny!" Hood reproached her.

"I was just thinking about the time Dreamy invited herself to dinner at our house. You saw her at the table when you came in, and told Mom that you'd flunked a history test and had to meet with Mr. Haggard for a make-up test."

"Yeah. And when I got back, Mom grounded me for a week for failing the test, even though I'd actually aced it."

"But you couldn't ‘fess up, or she'd have grounded you for another week!"

"Or more," added Hood, smiling at the remembrance.

"I knew I'd feel better if I talked to you, little brother. Now, if you can only do the same for Moonglow this evening."

"Speaking of which, what should I bring to the meal?" This was a running joke since Hood had moved to Woodlawn and taken over the ice cream shop. Family members knew his culinary skills leaved a lot to be desired, so his contribution to any occasion was ice cream.

"Make it chocolate chip ice cream," snickered Stardrift. "It's still the foal's favorite."

"Okay. See you later then."

After hanging up the phone, Hood buckled down to some serious book work in the office while Drumstick and Patchwork Petal took care of the shop. He was unaware of the time until Drumstick rapped on the door.

"I'm out of here," he informed Hood. "Rosy Bells is in charge until closing."

"Okay," confirmed Hood. "See you tomorrow."

Hood closed-up the ledger and stood up when Rosy Bells herself came into the office. She was Dewdrop's mother, and lived across the street from Moonglow and Checker.

"You still here, Boss? Patchwork Petal and I can take it from here."

"Just heading out, Rosy Bells. What do you think of the excitement in your part of town?"

"I'm still looking over my shoulder, expecting some stranger to be lurking behind every fencepost and tree. It's making a nervous wreck out of the whole town!"

"And you never noticed anything unusual yesterday afternoon?"

"Nope. Same as any other Tuesday. I baked some bread and the lawn care service mowed the lawn; before the stallion they sent over had finished, Dewdrop and I went shopping."

"So someone was working in your yard when the theft occurred?" Hood asked urgently.

Rosy Bells waved her hoof through the air. "Don't put your hopes on that stallion. For all he could tell the police, he might have been asleep." She paused. "Come to think of it, maybe he was."

"No one is as efficient as you, Rosy Bells," he teased as he guided her through his office door. "I hate to cut this conversation short, but I've got a dinner date at Stardrift's tonight."

"Let me guess. You're taking ice cream."

"You got that right," winked Hood.

After pilfering a gallon of ice cream out of the freezer, Hood headed for Stardrift's and Kaleidoscope's house. As he approached their two-story pale blue dwelling, he was spotted by his nieces and nephews and was engulfed in their eager welcome.

Hood handed the ice cream to Crush. "Hurry this in to the freezer, please, and tell your mom I'm starved."

Saluting playfully, Crush hurried off on his errand. Hood swooped up Puzzle, swinging him through the air; the foal squealed in delight.

Blush and Lacewing had obviously been playing dress-up. Their manes were covered in barrettes and their tails in ribbons. Laser was carrying a gold-colored kitten that had recently joined the household; the rumbling purr coming from this kitten attested to his enjoyment of life with a frolicsome bunch of foals.

Entering via the back door, Hood came upon his sisters just serving up a luscious array of food.

"You're just in time to help pack the food to the table," Stardrift commented to him.

"Can I take time to hug my sisters?" Hood questioned.

"Aww... little brother needs a hug," taunted Stardrift as she embraced him and patted his back. "All better now?"

"Actually, I was more concerned about Moonglow," Hood playfully moved Stardrift aside. "How are you doing?" he asked with solicitude as he drew Moonglow close. She rested her head on his shoulder for a brief moment, then pulled back to look him in the eyes.

"What are ponies saying about Checker at the shop?"

"Believe it or not, this robbery business isn't the only topic of discussion in Woodlawn," Hood tactfully avoided the subject. "More to the point, what is the doctor saying about your health?"

Moonglow finally smiled. "We are both doing fine." She patted her tummy gently. "By the way he kicks, I'd say he will be a soccer superstar."

"You say that like you know this one is a colt for sure," Hood responded.

"Oh, no. The surprise of finding out after the birth is too much of a thrill to spoil beforehoof," Moonglow informed him, with Stardrift nodding assent.

Just then, Checker and Kaleidoscope entered the kitchen. Checker went straight to Moonglow and put his arm around her while Kaleidoscope bellowed in mock anger, "What's a fellow have to do to get fed around here?"

"Give us a little help, and we're ready to eat," Stardrift responded, kissing him on the cheek. "Hood, round up the foals, and we'll sit down to dinner."

After a fulfilling meal of fried chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, cabbage salad, fresh green beans, and home baked biscuits, adults and children alike were stuffed. It was mutually agreed to save the dessert for later, when it could be better appreciated.

The younger foals ran outside to play a game of hide and seek, but Laser chose to stay in the kitchen with Uncle Hood who had volunteered for dishwashing detail.

"I thought you had enough of dirty dishes yesterday," Hood commented, eyeing his nephew questioningly.

"Yeah. I guess I did. But, Uncle Hood, I need to talk to you."

Hood tied an apron around his waist, and began washing dishes. "So, what's on your mind?"

"Dad's a good police chief, isn't he?"

"You know he is," Hood replied.

"Then why did that reporter say he wasn't?"

Hood was silent for a moment, then laid down the dish cloth and turned to Laser.

"Some ponies want a quick fix to all their problems. They don't realize it takes lots of time and hard work to resolve some issues."

"But she made it sound like Dad's not doing his job."

"Your dad's doing the best he can with the information available. If only someone had seen something!" He returned to the sudsy dishwater. "Wasn't anyone out and about yesterday afternoon?"

"There was a stallion mowing the lawn at Dewdrop's house when Lacewing and I got home," supplied Laser.

"Yes, Rosy Bells said he's there every Tuesday."

"He wasn't actually mowing, though," said Laser as he thought about the situation.

"What was he doing?" Hood perked up.

"I don't know. He just wasn't around. The lawn mower was in the front lawn, but he was nowhere in sight."

"Did you tell your dad that?"

"No. I said the stallion was mowing the grass. I saw the lawn mower, and I assumed he had to be nearby."

"Did you see anyone in your yard?"

"We went in the front door, so we wouldn't necessarily have seen anyone if they were there."

"What did you and Lacewing do when you got in the house?"

"Mom was still asleep, so we went to our rooms to read."

Standing in deep thought, Hood finally mumbled, "Interesting. Very interesting indeed."

Go Back to Novels Index
Go Back to Tabby's Dream Valley