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The Best Birthday Gift

The beautiful 1970s was a good time for horse racing.
After the Champagne Stakes, the invincible Secretariat became the star, and the rich stable owners and promising jockeys also attracted sponsors' attention.

"Lilian wants a foal." The father who always spoils his daughter seemed troubled, "She wants a foal which is better than any others in the stable, one that can sing, dance and talk."

So the arcanist added a handful of apple seeds, several pieces of leftover pound cake, three carrots and two handfuls of sawdust into the crucible, plus a handful of old, broken horse mane from the attic. The mane was passed down to him by his liar grandmother and said to be the legacy of some great horse. She bragged about it all her life but no one ever believed her. As the arcanist stirred the mixture in the crucible, he was preparing the speech which he was going to give upon delivery.

"I collected the best seeds from the apple tree planted in May and mixed it with fine cream and the immortal mistletoe blessed by the moon to build its body, and I filled its mind with eternal wisdom and halo.
"Sir, my honorable sir, please have faith in me, for I have told no lies.
"It will be as beautiful, modest, polite, sensible and noble as an angel. It will be the foal which is better than any others, the best, best birthday present ever!"

A Maid's Day

I cut the fresh carrots into slender, easy-to-chew pieces, wiped away the water on them and placed them on a ceramic plate decorated with a pattern of apples and ribbons.
I carried the plate through the corridor into the garden and watched my little master feed them to that arrogant, childish wooden foal which always bragged about its blue blood—that toy foal.

"But, Clatter, will Hoey really run like a horse one day?"
The foal jumped up on the windowsill where its owner rested her head and arms. Looking at the stable in the distance, she seemed worried.
"Every horse can run, Lilian! You have Darley's word!"
"But ... what if little Hoey has no idea he is a horse? They call him a little mule, maybe what he believes himself to be ..."

I didn't hear the rest of the whispers. But when I suddenly realized what that adrupt trip-trap galloping was about, the wooden foal had already run 300 feet away, with my little master on its back. Gosh, it was a nightmare!
I sprang to my feet to catch up with them.
We ran through the corridor, across the garden, along the trail and charged straight into the gate to the stable. The foal was stained with mud from the running, as was my little master's face. I was exhausted.
I sat down next to my little master, gasping for air. Clatter didn't stop. He ran all the way into the stable. The other horses along the way, no matter how high-blooded they were, all knelt to him on their forelegs in the dust, heads down.

Darley and Clatter

Pandora Wilson: Mr. Darley Clatter, many people showed discontent to your three-peat in the Kentucky Hobby Horse Race.
Pandora Wilson: They believed your arcane skill was "cheating," and it was unfair for the other "real" hobby horses.
Darley Clatter: That doesn't make sense. Am I not a real hobby horse?
Pandora Wilson: According to your self introduction, you are the "Great, Noble, Lightning-like, Triumphant, Unparalleled Mr. Darley Arabian."
Darley Clatter: Of course! That's me!
Darley Clatter: But I'm also a hobby horse! I'm wooden, and look, I've got fancy white paint on me!
Darley Clatter: My name has Darley in it, and it also has Clatter. I am Darley as well as Clatter!
Pandora Wilson: Actually, according to the Arcanum Pet Level Report of Kentucky ...
Pandora Wilson: Your registered name is only Clatter.