The brother has a ranch that is just down the hill on our way from Silverglade to the winery. Before we caught up with him, we got distracted by what he had in the sale stalls. Tinkers! And two different kinds of paints! I would have taken them back today…except Evening and I hadn’t had a conversation yet, and I was possibly going to be in enough trouble for buying two horses.
His name is Marley, and apparently he had bought a paddock online without looking into any of necessary paperwork or regulations. Oh goodness. He was so excited about this beautiful show jumping track he wanted to make, but now he needed to back track and get belated permission. So that meant going to talk to Councilman Gilbert.
Well, that meant going back through the village, which was on the way back to Valedale. So we agreed, and he was quite grateful. Of course, Savvy had to get distracted by a new shop. Sigh. We had just had a full day of shopping!
At last, she finished her browsing and we could go speak with Gilbert. Well, he knew absolutely nothing about paddocks, so we had to find a Mr. Bucket to talk with about Marley’s plans. But he was gone and had been so for several days, worrying over the workers up at North Link possibly using illegal means with the tunnel they were building. If we wanted to talk to him, we’d have to go find him in that general direction via the West Jorvik Highway.
Savvy checked her GPS and said that it wasn’t anywhere near Mario, and we’d promised Steve we would talk to him first. I frowned, since I didn’t want to exhaust the horses by going back and forth from Valedale, and then going up very far north. We moved away from the councilman to debate which way to go when Donald popped up out of nowhere and scared the liver out of me.
He said he wanted to thank us for all the wool by making us a new vest, but we’d have to help even with that reward by helping gather dye. Well, he’d heard about a pink dye that Elizabeth Sunbeam could make out of special flowers. We promised to talk to her for him. And that additional task settled it, despite my unease about the horses’ stamina. Valedale first.
On our way to Valedale, Savvy and I talked about the Friesians that Steve had. I knew some of the history of the breed, so I told her what I knew, and about how they had required breeding permissions now and most studs had the chestnut gene eliminated. We both pouted a little over that.
Elizabeth was outside her house when we rode in, thankfully. She knew all about the dye Donald wanted, and apparently the special flowers were the same ones we collected the tears of Aideen from. They were also protected, but as long as we only gathered withered flowers, she would make us the dye. The flowers were out with the cattle–I assume the bright color would keep them from eating them, since that usually marks poison to grazers. We gathered plenty of withered flowers left over from the winter, and took them to Elizabeth, who said she’d need a day to set the dye.
Savvy asked her for directions to the observatory, and Elizabeth blushed! Savvy showed her the GPS, and Elizabeth gave us better directions. After we thanked her and headed on our way, Savvy asked if I knew what the flushing was about and why Elizabeth seemed to know the best way to the observatory, despite it being so out of the way. Looking up at the branches overhead, I pondered if maybe she had a crush on Mario? But that just made me giggle when I told Savvy. At least she laughed too. To quote my favorite Disney movie, we were all getting twitterpated. Me over Josh, Savvy over Derek… Maybe now Elizabeth over Mario. It is spring, I suppose.
Along the road leading up to the observatory were steaming rocks that looked hot to the touch. Both Savvy and I wondered what they could be. But that was quickly forgotten when Savvy stopped in the middle of the bridge and started talking about loud, clanking noises.
Oh no. Not again.
Was it the altitude this time? I mentally dithered and swore that I was going to start packing little bags of snacks and water so this would stop. It couldn’t be healthy for Savvy!
But she blew it off and said it was probably nothing, so I kept my mouth shut. Mario was standing just aside from the bridge. He was blonde, very French, with a colorful scarf he wore like a banner. I tried very hard not to wrinkle my nose over his compliment over our names. I can’t help it, I’m British! We have a thing against our cousins across the channel! But he was otherwise very nice. He assured us quickly that he could help us, but obviously he couldn’t drop everything he was doing. It would have to wait until tomorrow (again).
Since we were here, however, he asked if we would do him a favor and gather some fallen stars for him. He waxed very poetic about the stars, and you could really hear how much he loved his job. They were scattered on the mountainside, where the terrain was too rough for him on foot, and he had no horse.
Well, that explained the stones along the side of the rode. We went along snatch them, laughing when we found them as we had to almost juggle them until they cooled enough to handle. We brought them back to Mario, and he was so excited, he gave us each one. I thought it would be a neat souvenir this time, but if he has us do it again, I think I’ll sell it. They are just too heavy!
Savvy was still acting strange, worrying me. But Mario was already talking again, complaining about the horrid winter weather and being all alone up here. (Uh huh, seems like Elizabeth’s crush is returned!) He had written to Gilbert about this problem, and he’d received an answer yesterday. The council apparently had a plan, but hadn’t told him what it was and he couldn’t leave the telescope to find out. So he was asking us, the first people he had seen in ages.
Well, down the mountain we went again. Savvy seemed to regain herself, and started some gentle mockery of Mario, making me giggle. Gilbert was waiting for us in Silverglade, and he had the news we were looking for. The council had actually hired a construction company to help the observatory out, and the head guy was already here, needing to see the observatory.
Master Builder Olaf stood out pretty clearly in the town square, compared to the other girls riding around and various townsfolk. He also knew right away we weren’t Mario, obviously. But he was more than willing to work with us. He gave us a camera, telling us he needed pictures of the build site and he would meet us at North Link.
North Link again. Well, at least it would be a little easier on the horses… I shrugged at Savvy. Well, there was some luck.