Drifting Down the Lazy River

This story is a sequel to The One Who Got Away

A frustrated young orphan colt with a talent for painting is determined to run away from his dead-end rural village for the distant cultural haven of Baltimare. All he needs to do is slip aboard a raft and drift down the river Fen until he reaches his destination. It’s a simple plan, and would have worked just fine except for one thing.

Seaponies.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/363036/drifting-down-the-lazy-river

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9. What Lies Beneath The Surface

"Well, as I was saying about the parlor, there was beautiful curtains on the windows: white, with pictures painted on them of castles with vines all down the walls, and cattle coming down to drink."

— The Adventures of Buck Fin

Three days of enforced bed rest in Castle Paradise with Mother Windrow and Baron Gaberdine doing their best to keep Turpentine from spending all the time drawing should have seemed like forever. In actuality, it fairly flew by as the two of them seemed to compete with how many stories they could read to their sick little ponies or how much coddling they could provide. Turpentine got to experience every Quackers the Duck story in the castle library, complete with Mother Windrow doing the voices and descriptive quacks from Gaberdine.

The only ponies missing from their recovery were Sen, who was in town working on a project, and Pearl, who seemed to waver between being afraid of Turpentine and fascinated by him. She stayed mostly out of sight, but frequently during story reading time he could hear the faint creak of decking out in the hallway when the older seapony would drift up the corridor and take shy peeks inside the room, mirroring Gaberdine’s duck quacks with quiet giggles of her own.

It gave Turpentine a greater respect for the timidity of the rest of Pearl’s relatives, which although Ripple called them all ‘aunts,’ were actually second cousins and nieces and all kinds of connected-by-a-great-grandparent relations that boggled Turpentine’s orphan mind. ‘Aunts’ did seem to be a much better way of referring to them, although when he would stretch out on the sun-warmed deck of the riverboat and look out across the lagoon with his sketchbook, he could imagine them shyly just beneath the water, studying him in return while he drew.

And perhaps from the occasional ripple or bubble breaking the surface, he may have been right.

It took no effort at all to imagine Ripple in the same environment. She sprang back from her bout with the flu much faster than Turpentine, who spent most of the last day of his recovery watching her leap off the deck of the riverboat into the lagoon, then squelch-flop up the shore, back onto the riverboat, and back off the deck again. Mother Windrow was tickled pink at the way the little seapony played, and was so distracted she did not even take Turpentine’s temperature once before it was time for her to return home.

Home. The meaning of the word had changed for Turpentine, to the point where he was unsure what it really was now. After so many different families had attempted to turn their home into his, Turpentine was not sure if he ever could find his place in the world. Much like a bird or a pegasus leaving the nest, it was time for him to spread his wings and fly, but all he could see now was the very long drop in front of him.

On the morning Mother Windrow was to return to her home, it was somewhat of a relief for Turpentine to wake up and get out of the riverboat before dawn instead of sleeping as much as he had been ordered to over the last few days. Out of guilt, he had even volunteered to carry Mother Windrow’s rather limited baggage since Sen was still in Gravel Flats until his cabin became vacant again.

While he strolled silently behind the old mare and the young baron in the pre-dawn light, Turpentine could not help but feel torn. If Baron Gaberdine had not stuck his neck out, Turpentine would have been on that same pegasus wagon, headed back to the small house he had spent many years of his young life in. His dream of going to Baltimare and becoming a famous painter would have been dashed, or at least delayed a few years, and he never would have seen Ripple again. Instead, the young baron had been writing letters on his behalf in order to make Turpentine’s dream into a reality. He owed the baron far more than the five bits Turpentine still had in the bottom of his painting box, and he owed Mother Windrow far, far more than he could ever repay. Neither of them owed him a single bit, but they each in their own way had invested a lot of time and effort into making a young colt’s life better without any promise of reward.

It gave Turpentine a strange twinge in his chest while they walked through the cheerful town of Gravel Flats and its early-rising inhabitants. If things went the way Baron Gaberdine had said, Turpentine would not be going back to his home town other than for the occasional visit to Mother Windrow. She would have to do all of her household chores by herself again, like carrying the laundry to the wash house or bringing in the mail every morning. It made him feel guilty at leaving her behind, because she was almost fifty, and could not do all of the things she did at a younger age.

He thought he was concealing his worry, but before they went into the Speedy Cargo building, Mother Windrow took him aside for a brief chat.

“Hey.” She put a hoof under his chin and lifted until Turpentine was looking into Mother Windrow’s dark eyes. “Still feeling guilty about running away?”

“Yeah.” He tried to look down at the dusty ground again but Mother Windrow would not let him. She kept a constant pressure under his chin until he looked her in the eyes again, as he knew he was going to have to.

“I was so worried when I found you missing, terrified you were going to get hurt, and frightened that I had said something to drive you away. There’s been a lot of little colts and fillies through my house, and each one of them is special, but you…” She paused to wipe away a tear. “When I started the job, they told me you were all a bunch of heartbreakers, and that I was going to want to keep each and every one of you like some mother hen with a dozen chicks.”

“Chirp,” said Turpentine rather sullenly.

The old mare giggled and rubbed Turpentine on the top of his mane. “See. You can always make me happy. I’ve just not been able to make you happy in return.”

“And somewhere out there is a family where I’ll fit in, and make us all happy.” Turpentine sighed. “You gave me this talk before.”

“And I get the feeling this is going to be the last time,” continued Mother Windrow with a warm smile. “I had the opportunity to talk with Baron Gaberdine quite a bit over the last few days. If anybody can figure out where a complicated little puzzle like you belongs, it’s certain to be him. Now,” she added, straightening up and wiping her face quickly with the back of one hoof, “you be good for him and no more running away, or I will be most displeased. Missus Pearl is going to watch over you as long as you’re at Castle Paradise, so I told her all of the little tricks you’ve used to get out of chores.”

“All of them?” he asked with a sense of unfairness at the possibility of losing painting time. Still, he could not resist her warm eyes, and gave her a goodbye nuzzle anyway. “I promise to behave and not cause the baron or his… friend any trouble. I’m sorry for making you worried.”

“You’re forgiven.” Mother Windrow leaned her head into his neck harder than she ever had before. “I could never be angry at you for trying to find out where you belong. I know you’ll find your place, even if it isn’t with me.”

* *  * *

After Mother Windrow made sure his mane was combed properly, they joined Baron Gaberdine in the Speedy Cargo building and were introduced to the two pegasus sisters who ran the place, a bright pink pegasus named Powderpuff and her sister, a lemon-yellow pegasus named Lemon Drops. The sisters seemed perpetually perky, and through their happy babbling, he learned they had a weekly cargo route around the area, as well as on-demand delivery trips to other small towns in the area through the week. Tomorrow when they went to Baltimare, he and Baron Gaberdine were going to share their ride with locally-grown radishes, carrots, and parsnips, but for today, Mother Windrow took her place between several crates of dry popcorn on the cob and gave a farewell smile with small wave to her young ward.

Then the sisters braced themselves and rose up into the air with smooth synchronized flapping, curved their flight to the west, and headed for Mother Windrow’s home. It normally would have made Turpentine dive for his pencil to capture the moment, but he just stood there and watched the wagon vanish into the distance instead, trying to make sense of the strange feeling in his chest. It could have just been some leftovers from his flu, but he did not think so. It was more like something that he had almost experienced several times before when he had been given away into an adoption for absolute certain that it was going to work this time.

While standing there next to the nondescript baron and watching the unblemished sky, the sensation in his chest was just about the way he had once imagined having a father might feel.

Imagination aside, Turpentine’s visit to the rather odd liquid barony was about over. He needed to get ready for his trip tomorrow, when he was scheduled to travel with Baron Gaberdine to Baltimare and meet with the teacher in the art school he had read about. Once he was accepted, he had a great number of things to do to get ready to paint Princess Luna’s portrait.

She was going to be a tricky one, with dark shadows and silver highlights making the picture appear to be in the moonlit darkness even when the watcher was standing in the light. She might not even like it. There must have been hundreds of artists already who had been begging to capture her likeness since she had been freed from Nightmare Moon’s power. His would just be another child’s scribble, not even worth being put on the icebox.

“Well, Turpentine.” Baron Gaberdine took a deep breath and looked back down at the young colt. “Tomorrow’s going to be a big day. We’ll have to pick out some of your best works to show off. You’ll knock the shoes off those stodgy old art teachers and have them begging to let you in. I was holding this back, but I received a response from Mister d’Or at the Baltimare School of Modern Art in last evening’s mail and he is willing to personally show us around tomorrow morning before I have to go have lunch with my father.”

“Will I get to meet your father, sir? I mean Mister Gaberdine. Gabby,” Turpentine finished, as he had been corrected several times over the last three days.

“With luck, no.” There was a faint twinge of emotion traveling up the baron’s tense jaw as he spoke, which piqued Turpentine’s curiosity. After all, the riverboat did not even have any photographs of Gabby’s parents, which struck him as odd. Mother Windrow had dozens of portraits of her around the house, and had started to gently complain that she kept standing in front of one of them, thinking it was a mirror.

“Don’t you like having a father?” asked Turpentine.

“Well…” Gaberdine paused again, although his expression relaxed. “I guess I’ve been taking him for granted. He’s always been there for me, right up until I came here. I mean I appreciate him, and I’m exceedingly glad to have him available. He’s just… difficult at times when our plans for my life conflict, and since I’ve moved here, he’s been planning a lot. I love him.”

In Turpentine’s decade of experience, a sentence like that was a walking pony, as it was almost always followed by a ‘but.’ He waited respectfully for the baron to continue, but after a short time and a glance back in the direction of his floating home, Gaberdine took the conversation in a different direction. “I’m not quite the pony I was a few months ago, Turpentine. Ripple is a large part of that.”

“And Pearl,” added Turpentine, watching as the baron’s cheeks flushed and he nervously twitched his ears. It was always nice to see the joy radiate out of the otherwise plain stallion, much like a lantern glowing with an internal golden fire.

“Most certainly,” said Gaberdine. He took a breath before turning and beginning to amble slowly back in the direction of the castle. It was a picturesque stroll through the middle of the small town of Gravel Flats for the two of them again, only this time with more of the dawn light spreading colors across the small houses and along the dirt paths. They walked for a while, greeting the pleasant early-rising ponies and passing alongside colorful flowerbeds before a nagging worry made Turpentine speak up.

“About picking out some of my paintings.” He took a breath as they walked, feeling a tight band around his chest as if the flu were just lurking inside, waiting to come back. “What if they’re not good enough? They’ll still let me in, Baron Gaberdine, won’t they?”

“With your talent?” Gaberdine let out a quiet raspberry. “They’d be fools not to. But…” He paused and looked down at Turpentine with a peculiar upward quirk to the corners of his lips. “If you don’t get a scholarship, have you considered how you are going to pay tuition?”

“Pay tuition?” Turpentine stopped cold in the middle of the dirt path. “You mean I’d have to pay them?” The brief surge of terror at the thought of how little education his last five bits might buy only lasted until Baron Gaberdine chuckled.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll pay for it.”

Despite being momentarily stunned, Turpentine asked, “You mean it?”

“Of course!” Gaberdine nudged him back into a brisk walk down the path as he continued, “You’re a talented young colt with a sharp mind. The world needs more ponies like you.”

It was sincere praise, the kind which Turpentine was only used to hearing from Mother Windrow and it stuck with him as a warm glow when he later settled down with his collection of drawings, sketches, drafts, paintings, and general doodles. He wanted to take them all to show to Mister d’Or tomorrow, but that might take several trips, and the compact crate with padded dividers that Mister Sienna had made for his trip would only hold so many.

He sat on the floor in ‘his’ room at the castle with all of the pieces spread out around the walls and across the bed while deciding. It was a very difficult decision, but he had help. Even Pearl hesitantly accompanied Gaberdine into the room, with Ripple’s encouragement. The older seapony turned out to be fascinated by a case study he had made of fluttering butterflies, with so many colorful wings across the painting it was difficult to tell where any of them started or ended. Despite Gaberdine’s faint protests, Pearl insisted on including the butterfly painting, and Ripple convinced him to take the painting Turpentine had done when they first met. She said it was a very nice smile, and he had captured it better than anything she could do by making faces into a mirror. Even Sen convinced him to take one of the paintings he had made of Mother Windrow sitting in her rocking chair in a corner of the room.

They stopped once the crate of art was generously full and went out on the riverboat’s deck to play catch, with Ripple out in the lagoon and Turpentine dashing back and forth on the wooden planking of the deck. It was a good way to burn off some of his excess nervous energy, but his recent bout with the flu left him gasping every time the ball bounced back up onto the deck and he had to headbutt it back.

Once it got dark, Ripple came up on deck and settled down with Turpentine to have Gaberdine read them both a bedtime story about pirates. The scent of bug repellent and the bright light of tiki torches filled his senses as they read about Stubhorn and the Pirate King with Pearl snickering somewhere out in the dark lagoon whenever Gaberdine tried to sound like a pirate and Sen lurking by the door to the galley with conveniently-timed snacks. That niggling sense of family was tugging at Turpentine’s chest again by the time Ripple vanished off into the dark lagoon with a splash smaller than a frog would make and two pale green unicorn lights of mother and daughter departed out into the night.

“Well, we better get to bed too, Turpentine.” Gaberdine got up after two tries and stretched, still holding the hardback book in his magic. “It’s going to be a long day tomorrow for the both of us.”

“Yeah.” Turpentine took one last moment to lean on the riverboat’s rail and look out across the moonlit lagoon while Baron Gaberdine began putting out the tiki torches behind him. “I can’t help but think that was the last time I’ll ever see her again.”

Gaberdine paused with the door open to his cabin and looked back at Turpentine, still draped across the riverboat’s rail in the darkness. “Don’t worry. You’ll have breaks during the school year to visit, and I’ll be more than happy to pay for your trips. You’ll be back.”

Turpentine rested his chin on the rail and stared out into the night. “That’s what Ripple’s father said.”

* *  * *

Dawn, or at least what could be considered almost-dawn came much sooner than Turpentine had expected. Their morning flight to Baltimare was supposed to be in the air before dawn in order to get everything done on their list, and Turpentine found himself regretting not having his own head-based light source like Gaberdine as they fumbled around the castle galley for breakfast before they left.

Limiting himself to a single slice of toast like the baron had prepared for his meal, Turpentine hefted the crate of art on his own back, followed the baron outside, and trotted down the dark path to the town. Sen had volunteered to get up with them and do the carrying, but the baron had insisted he sleep in, due to his lumbago flaring up. Turpentine had shouldered many heavier burdens, but the weight of the crate was more in memories, as every touch of the brush he had made on the paintings and sketches seemed to take up its own space. Some of his creations seemed so primitive, so crude now, as with every painting he had done, he had learned something which made all the rest cheap and tawdry.

What really made him drag his hooves was the realization of how much he missed a mischievous pair of green eyes as his first sight of the day. If this trip went well, Turpentine might not be back to the castle to visit before First Snow, and that most certainly meant his time swimming in the river with the little seapony had come to an end. At least until Spring. Late Spring, when the water warmed up.

The walk to town warmed Turpentine up, but it still struck him as a little odd on how close they were to town and only rarely visited. The lagoon was like a little world unto its own, much like his home town had seemed to be a bubble of existence he had popped when leaving. The heavy crate on his back shifted as he walked through town beside Gaberdine, nodding to the early-morning residents and trying to smile. After all, he was going to Baltimare to become a famous painter, which was his goal, so he should be happy.

Right?

Powderpuff and Lemon Drops already had the parsnips and radishes loaded for their trip to Baltimare, with a space on the wagon large enough for the crate of paintings and the rest of the shipment: Local Barons and Wandering Artists. It was not until the wagon became airborne with the powerful wingflaps of the two sisters that Turpentine remembered he had not ever flown before. Gaberdine was chewing on a piece of gum with single-minded concentration, and with little effort, he was convinced to give up a second piece for his fellow passenger. It did wonders to calm Turpentine’s queasy stomach, but he still felt a lead weight in his gut when he looked down from their altitude and watched the shrinking of the little town of Gravel Flats and the distant riverboat nestled into a cottonwood-lined lagoon.

And in fairly short time, they were gone, and all he could see was the green of the distant grass and the blue lines of rivers and streams knitting them together. Steam tugs chuffing up and down the river looked like tiny toys, although they became more numerous as they approached Baltimare and the criss-cross of train tracks headed in all directions away from the city. Even there, it seemed to be a far more dingy and dismal place than his imagination had painted, with grimy freighters tied up at the docks and shabby airships bobbing next to them as cargo flowed from one to another in endless lines like ants.

In less time than he was expecting, the wagon gave a little lurch when the drivers angled themselves downwards, shaking Turpentine out of his musings. Gaberdine had kept up a friendly conversation with the two pegasi during the trip, but Turpentine had been so distracted he had not even studied the way the young pegasus mares’ wings moved during the trip, even if the stiff breeze of their passage would have prevented him from sketching any accurate motion studies.

He would have dug out his most current sketchbook and tried anyway, if yet another object had not caught his attention and held it firm. The Baltimare School of Modern Art (because it could not possibly be anything else) sprawled out in an ungainly fashion over several buildings, each of which seemed to be finalists in an Ugly Architects’ contest, with the central and largest one the obvious winner. It was so pink and tan and brown and disfigured that for the longest time during their descent, his mind refused to stick the obvious label on it, but after several exaggerated blinks and a surreptitious glance at the tail ends of the two young pegasi mares pulling the wagon, he had to whisper to Baron Gaberdine.

“Do they know what that building looks—”

“Yes,” said Gaberdine, quite firmly.

“Was it intentional?” he whispered.

“Quite certainly,” said Gaberdine. “Just don’t mention it. To anypony. Ever.”

The landing was gentle as thistledown and far enough from the odd building that Turpentine could try to ignore its feminine attributes, so he hefted up the crate of paintings on his back and trailed along behind Gaberdine while the sisters took off and headed to the town market with their cargo.

This was the moment Turpentine had been looking forward to for years, but with every step, all he could think about was Baron Gaberdine headed back to his riverboat all alone in a few hours. It was like going to the candy store to get a banana lollipop only to find out it was sugar-free once you popped it in your mouth.

Mister d’Or was a middle-aged unicorn with spiky twists in his mane, several earrings, and a little stubble underneath his chin where his clippers had not trimmed very well. Turpentine had the feeling that all of the students in the school knew about the prim unicorn’s failed grooming but had not said anything for fear of being snubbed in some fashion, as the premiere of the school, as he preferred to be called, was a total snob.

The riverboat was looking better every moment.

The tour of the school was interesting, and totally different from Turpentine’s expectations. None of the students walking around the building seemed to be anywhere as young as him, and they all dressed like beggers or homeless ponies, with dirty tattered rags tied around their legs and greasy manes. Not all of them were painters either. There were quite a few sculptors, although the line appeared to be blurred somewhat as the application of stuff to canvas could technically be called painting, if not graffiti, or even wanton destruction of private property. If art was supposed to make one think, Turpentine supposed it classified as such, because he could not help but think ‘How many bits did somebody pay for this and were they drunk at the time?’

Most of it probably had not been paid for, because there were odd chunks of plaster or twisted metal all over the school, each with an informational plaque in front of it and a name which bore no resemblance to the object at all. There was even a structure in the process of being disassembled in the center atrium of the main building, which raised Turpentine’s hopes that the ugly building was going to be torn down, but that brief hope was extinguished by a sign that said ‘New Exhibit Shortly.’

The only painting ‘art’ he saw was in a classroom where the teacher in front was wearing a spotless white jacket, and all of the students were vigorously painting on their easels in brilliant oranges and bright violets, seemingly attempting to duplicate the garish explosion of color displayed at the front end of the room.

While they walked, Turpentine nodded whenever his opinion was asked for, which seemed to be the expected response. He really did not want to open his mouth and ask about… well, anything around the school from the eye-burning colors splashed across the corridor walls to the weird framed monstrosities placed here and there like cow patties after a good grazing. One of them even smelled like dung.

A sense of normality began to assert itself as they climbed a set of stairs into a large, open room with expanses of glass on all sides and paintings across each wall, edge to edge as they dried, or possibly decomposed in some instances. The light here was perfect, not the dry and blue-ish tint of the artificial illumination in each of the rooms, and although the paintings filling most every inch of wall space seemed like hostile explosions of contrasting confused flowers, it was the kind of room Turpentine could see himself working in. It would have to be cleaned up first, of course. The floors were dusty, and there was an enormous heap of trash in the center of the room with a few orange cones around it. Still, Mother Windrow had taught him how to clean quite well, and as a beginning student, he probably would have to earn his keep somehow.

All in all, after his first dismal impression of the school, things seemed to be looking up. A little.

One of the tables with display easels on it was empty, and after Mister Gaberdine took the lid off the crate Turpentine had been carrying around, Mister d’Or began removing the contents and putting them up. His upper lip curled a little more with every painting displayed, giving a particular sneer for the painting of Ripple’s smiling face.

“Rubbish,” he finally said, ignoring the paintings he had removed so far and flipping through the nearly-empty sketchbook Turpentine had planned on using later today, although he did pause for just a moment at the drawing he had done of the batpony nurse. “Ugly antiques. I thought you said he was an artist.”

Mister Gaberdine frowned just a little at the corner of his eyes in an expression which did not reach his lips. Turpentine’s heart had plunged down into his hooves when d’Or had delivered his condemnation, but picked up a little when Gabby said, “I did. He does magnificent work.”

“Puerile trash.” Mister d’Or tossed the sketchbook to one side, not even noticing when Gaberdine’s magic caught it before the pages hit the dusty wooden floorboards.

“Princess Luna liked his work,” said Gaberdine in a very quiet voice, only to have d’Or dismiss him with a derisive snort.

“Her tastes are a thousand years out of date, nearly as bad as this colt. It will take twice as long to teach him proper technique because he will have to un-learn all of his bad habits first. Still…” The unicorn made a peculiar circular motion with one hoof.

“Ah,” said Gaberdine. “I understand. Why don’t we talk about this in your office while my… guest packs his things away.”

“Wonderful.” Mister d’Or’s face lit up and he gestured back to the staircase. “My office is one floor down. Boy,” he added, looking coldly at Turpentine. “Come down when you’ve disposed of this trash,” he said with a sniff.

The two unicorns strode away and down the staircase while Turpentine packed his works away. It was a little heartening to see the way Gaberdine seemed to be optimistic about getting Turpentine a place at the school, although his opinion of artistic education was falling rapidly. He had reached his goal, and with Baron Gaberdine’s assistance, would be able to stay and learn how to paint the way professionals painted. He should have been happy.

At least he was going to have a nice place to paint, with good lighting and the kind of solitude he preferred, even if he had to send all of his old paintings to Mother Windrow. Nopony would interrupt him up here while he sketched or just stood and thought on a whole new collection of paintings. If he could move some of the tables around and get rid of that huge pile of trash, he would have enough space to even work on murals.

Sticking the packed crate of art to one side, Turpentine went in search of however the building got rid of trash. A chute at the end of the hallway labelled ‘Incinerator’ seemed to be the obvious choice, and it took several trips to haul the huge pile of trash Mister d’Or had wanted him to clean up over to it. Once the majority of the problem had been taken care of, he got a broom from a nearby closet and swept the room thoroughly, resulting in another pile of dirt to be tossed down the incinerator chute, and then mopped the clean floor afterwards with a little dribble of wax in the water to give the varnished floorboards a glossy shine.

It took a little while to find Mister d’Or’s office on the next floor down, because it was camouflaged between a bunch of upside-down bushes waving their bare roots in the air and a collection of brightly-colored machine tools in a bathtub. When he tapped gently on the door, Gaberdine opened it almost immediately and smiled.

“Ah, Turpentine. I was just going to look for you. Mister d’Or made a very tempting offer, but I told him I would discuss things with you before we made a decision.” He lowered his voice to a near-whisper. “Come on. Let’s go.”

The adult unicorn had the advantage of long legs and no cargo while the two of them strode back down the stairs and into the atrium on their way out of the building. Gaberdine noticed Turpentine’s flagging progress and promptly picked up the crate in his magic, allowing it to bob along behind them while they strode for the front door at a faster clip.

“Why are we hurrying?” asked Turpentine once they had gotten outside and started heading for the pegasus landing area.

“Two reasons,” said Gaberdine. “First, time. I do not wish to keep Powderpuff and Lemon Drops waiting for us—” while crossing the lawn, he briefly waved at where the two young pegasi were waving back, harnessed to their wagon and ready to fly “—and the reservations at Mi Quintile are fixed in stone.”

“What’s the second reason?” asked Turpentine before Gaberdine nearly broke into a gallop. The baron did not say anything until the wagon was airborne and headed toward the central part of town, but he did look back over his shoulder as if he expected some sort of pursuit.

“Let’s just say I know you’re a very clean and tidy sort of pony and leave it at that.” Gaberdine took another look over his shoulder and did not quit looking back until the wagon descended into the busy downtown of Baltimare.

Author's Note:

Author note:
“From the age of 6 I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I was 50 I had published a universe of designs. But all I have done before the age of 70 is not worth bothering with. At 75 I'll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am 80 you will see real progress. At 90 I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At 100, I shall be a marvelous artist. At 110, everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign myself 'The Old Man Mad About Drawing.” 
― Hokusai Katsushika

 

Disposing of the 'trash pile' was Turpentine’s honest mistake, which others have made before. Seriously, Equestria is a better place now. He deserves thanks.

   
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