Chocolate Chip found Sugarberry sitting at the kitchen table, depressed and a bit
"What's bothering you, Sugarberry?" Chocolate Chip asked. "We've got to get a lunch
Sugarberry sighed. "I got up early to make a batch of brownies."
"Sounds good so far."
Sugarberry sighed again. "The batter was very runny when I poured it into the pan, but
much I could do about it at that point; so I put it in the oven and baked it anyway."
"And...?" prompted Chocolate Chip.
Waving her hoof in the direction of the pan sitting on top of the oven, Sugarberry sighed
a third time.
"Look for yourself."
Chocolate Chip went to the stove and peered at what appeared to be a tasty pan of
brownies, and the
aroma was enticing. But when she reached to take a piece out of the pan, her hoof recoiled--
whatever it was, it didn't
feel anything like a brownie. "It feels like a water-logged sponge!" she observed.
Using a spatula to remove the piece from the pan, Chocolate Chip placed it on a plate
and touched it
tentatively again; the brownie bounced like Jell-O. "It looks normal, but it surely doesn't have the
Sugarberry sulked quietly.
Bravely taking a bite, the chocolate brown pony chewed thoughtfully. "Tastes okay, but
it is a tad too
moist," she finally decided. She grinned at Sugarberry. "Were you thinking about Vanguard
again while you were
Casting her an irritated glance, Sugarberry had to admit that her thoughts might have
wandered off for
an instant... or two.
Giggling now, Chocolate Chip crossed to Sugarberry and put a foreleg across her
shoulders. "Come on,
Sug. Admit it! It's funny!"
"It was funny the first time I goofed up a recipe because I was day-dreaming about his
Vulcanopolis, but its getting kind of old by now."
Chocolate Chip patted her shoulder. "I'll go and get some cookies out of the freezer;
they'll thaw while
we are walking."
The reason the two ponies were gathering up a picnic lunch was that Wigwam, upon
finding out that
Chocolate Chip was interested in arrowheads and similar artifacts of the Native Ponies, had
suggested a trek up into the
foothills on a specimen-hunting expedition. Once the word got out, Rocky, Ages, Digger, Spike,
Frilly Flower, and
Spring Song had joined the hunting party. And when Baby Noddins had heard them discussing it
at the Satin Slipper
Sweet Shoppe one evening, she had connived an invitation out of the soft-hearted Frilly Flower to
be included in the
Wigwam had remained attentive to Sugarberry's progress in her proofing of his
manuscript, and showed
up at least once a week to offer literary suggestions even though Sugarberry had assured him that
she was having no
serious difficulties, and would not really need his input until she had completed her task. But
Wigwam insisted on
keeping in close touch, and had become good friends with both Sugarberry and Chocolate
He had even volunteered to help Sugarberry plant her garden, a job that she and
Vanguard had looked
forward to. They had ordered garden seeds in the dead of winter, but by the time the spring
weather had arrived,
Vanguard had left for far-off Italy. During the planting of the seeds, Chocolate Chip had
mentioned her interest in the
artifacts that she and her brother had found on their grandparents' farm over the years, and
Wigwam jumped at the
chance to share some of his Native Pony wisdom with her and anyone else who was interested.
The outing had
blossomed into quite an enterprise.
By the time Chocolate Chip returned from the basement with the cookies, Sugarberry
had thrown off her
doldrums and thrown out her brownies. "I'll get the stuff out of the refrigerator; you can pack
some soda," she
"What about some snack chips?" Chocolate Chip asked.
"Something tells me that Digger and some of those others might find it easier to bring
that sort of thing
as their contribution to the picnic," Sugarberry mused.
"Yeah, I suppose you're right."
"And remember the tablecloth," Sugarberry said. "I don't like grass and dirt clinging to
my plate and
By the time the two had gathered up everything they wanted to take, it was time to meet
Arriving at the designated spot, they found everyone assembled except for Baby Noddins; but
hurrying down the path
was Frostflake carrying a backpack with the foal at her side.
"Sorry we're late," Frostflake panted, "but someone forgot that she was supposed to
strawberries last night" She frowned down at her daughter.
"They weren't that dwirty, anyway," countered Baby Noddins, grabbing the pack from
"You're just in time," Sugarberry assured Frostflake. "And don't worry about Baby
Noddins; we'll take
good care of her."
With a wave of farewell to her mother, Baby Noddins set off with the rest of the group.
It was a merry
bunch; the weather was beautiful, and the promise of a perfect outing hung like a visible canopy
over the ponies and
The first part of the walk was easy as it encompassed frequently used paths that were
hoof-worn; this tended to keep them in a parade formation, however. It was only after they
reached the foothills that the
going became more casual and everyone could spread out. The pace slowed down as wildflowers
were admired, animal
burrows were investigated, and bird sightings were made. Rocky occasionally asked Baby
Noddins if she needed a lift,
but she stubbornly refused a helping hoof.
Their random pace still brought them to the site where Wigwam had planned for them
to eat lunch
promptly at noon. It was a valley between two of the hills, and a sparkling river flowed lazily
between its lush, green
banks. The spring rains had been generous, and the meadow was vibrant in color and
"This is beautiful!" Sugarberry exclaimed. "I've never been to this area before!"
"We'll walk upriver until we come to that grove of trees; it's the perfect spot for a
"When dwo we gwet to the arty-facts?" queried Baby Noddins, finally allowing Rocky
to carry her
backpack for her.
"Well," began Wigwam, "see that hillside up ahead where the rocks come down to meet
"The ponies used to camp in this valley near the river, and they spent time during the
fashioning projectile points, scrapers, and other tools they needed in their way of life." Wigwam
fell silent as he
envisioned these early ponies busy about their daily activities in the peaceful shelter of the valley.
"That way of life would have been well and good in the summer," contemplated
Sugarberry, "but I'm
not sure I'd want to be roughing it during the winter."
"But you would have had a cozy teepee to live in," reminded Digger.
"And lots of smoke snaking its way into everything," Chocolate Chip imagined.
"Not if you built the fire correctly," Ages added.
"The Native Ponies may not have had a lot of the conveniences that we take for
Wigwam, "but I somehow think they must have been very content here."
"As long as the crops matured and the rain fell," argued Rocky. "But what about the
"You are right. It was not always an idyllic life." Wigwam shook his head.
The group had now reached the copse, and a flat area was reserved for the actual picnic.
The spreading branches of the trees filtered out the bright sun and made a restful haven which
beckoned welcomingly to
those who were already tired out from the morning's walk.
"I spend too much time at the computer," complained Sugarberry as she set down her
stretched her aching muscles.
"And too much time at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe!" teased Digger.
"Look who's talking," Chocolate Chip shot back at the breathless stallion.
"What can I do to help set up the lunch?" asked Spring Song. She drew a bag of corn
curls out of her
"First, we have to put down the picnic cloth," smiled Sugarberry as Chocolate Chip
hoisted her own
pack off her back and set it on the ground.
Once the blanket was laid out, everyone added his or her contribution to the picnic.
plates and utensils plus some carrot and celery sticks; Ages and Rocky had brought soda; Digger
donated potato salad
from the deli. "My mom says you can't have a picnic without potato salad," he grinned.
Frilly Flower set out a tray of little sandwiches which looked delightful, and Baby
offered the rich, red strawberries. Spike's contribution was some hot dogs. "I can warm them up
real quick," he
explained; and setting them on a rock, he proceeded to heat them with his ready burst of flame.
By the time Sugarberry
had added some home-baked buns, cabbage salad, and Chocolate Chip's now-thawed cookies,
everyone was ready to
The meal was delicious and satisfying, and Sugarberry, for one, would have been
content to sprawl in
the tender grass and take a nap; but Baby Noddins was intent on finding her "arty-facts," so after
cleaning up the
leftovers and stashing the unnecessary items under the protective overhang of a dense bush, the
renewed ponies and
friend continued their march onward.
"Once the ground becomes littered with rocks, start looking more closely at the ground.
You might find
a rock that has actually been flaked by a pony in your distant past," Wigwam directed.
The chatter stopped as they moved into the area that Wigwam had foretold. Everyone
walked with bent
head as each hoped to recover some souvenir of a bygone era in history.
Baby Noddins scooted here and there, always assuming someone else was on the better trail. But
as could be expected,
it was Wigwam who found the first arrowhead.
He held up the well-formed point, shaped into its v-form by some apt carver who had
to convert the rock into a usable implement. Everyone gathered around him as he explained the
methods the unknown
craftspony had used, and the function that the finished product had performed. Baby Noddins
stood in rapt
"That's what we're lookin' for?" she asked when Wigwam finished.
With a laugh, he knelt to the foal's level, and gave her a firsthoof look at the artifact.
"Yes, Noddins, this
is the object of our quest." He set the specimen on her extended hoof and allowed her to examine
it thoroughly. The
rest of the ponies were eager to find their own relic, and spread out across the terrain.
By midafternoon, everyone except Sugarberry had found at least one keepsake.
Wigwam, standing at
the base of the rock cliff, explained that as they had come closer to the source of the stone, the
supply of arrowheads
increased as the craftsponies would have done the majority of their work close to the source of
material. He pointed out
that a fair number of the points they had found were imperfect, probably tossed aside when a
strike took off more of the
rock than the pony had intended. "Nobody's perfect!" he stated. "And the failed pieces live on to
testify to that
Sugarberry was beginning to feel hot and itchy and just a little bit irritable; Wigwam
must have noticed,
because he came to her as she stood dreaming of a shower and a big dish of ice cream and asked
her if she would like to
walk down by the river and get a drink.
Accepting the offer with pleasure, Sugarberry rounded up Baby Noddins to join them to
ensure that the
little pony didn't arrive home sunburned, exhausted, and dehydrated. Frilly Flower and Digger,
who were nearby,
Baby Noddins was so impressed by the cool water that she asked for permission to go
wading; the idea
sounded irresistible, so soon Sugarberry and the rest were walking through the water or
swimming into the deeper areas.
Those who were still searching for artifacts heard the enthusiastic splashing going on, and joined
in the fun.
When they were refreshed, the young ponies and the baby dragon returned to their
Rocky and Digger decided to ascend the hill higher to see what they could find.
"There's an easier way to get a good view of the entire valley," Wigwam confided to
they were alone. "Just behind this cliff is a natural stairway that leads straight to the top." He led
the way to a point
where the rock face nearly reached the river's edge.
Inching around the rock, Sugarberry was overwhelmed by the stark and awesome
majesty of the fissure
that had formed at some long-forgotten point in time. The rock face had been pushed away from
the main outcropping,
and the jumbled debris that had filled in the crack did indeed form a rough, but convenient,
Stepping carefully, she followed Wigwam's lead up the rocky slope, and arrived
breathless at the
summit. The natural stairs crested onto a granite patio, perfect for observing the valley below.
"Was it worth the climb?" Wigwam questioned.
Sugarberry nodded her head. "This is all too grand!" she whispered, fearing any loud
somehow negate the scene before her. Rocky and Digger were only about halfway up the hill,
coming up at a point
where the grade wasn't too steep. Spike and the rest were spread out in a random pattern at the
foot of the hill. She
could faintly hear Baby Noddins squealing over her success at finding yet another artifact.
From her vantage point, Sugarberry stood above the sheer drop where the river had cut
its path through
the hill. Behind her was the rock-formed stairway, and before her spread the verdant valley with
the fluid blue line of
the river flowing peacefully. As she watched the river disappear into the distance, it suddenly
struck her just how far
above the valley floor she was. She sat down immediately.
"What's wrong?" worried Wigwam. "Did you hurt your hoof?"
Sugarberry kept her gaze fixed on the solid ground around her, and said in a small voice.
"I'm afraid of
A wide grin spread over Wigwam's face. "Oh, is that all?" He crossed the top of the
rock and sat on a
boulder that perched near the edge. "There's really nothing to be afraid of."
Sugarberry grimaced, and closed her eyes. Just seeing him sitting so close to the edge
made her body go
"I won't fall off the edge. I promise," he assured her, and he turned to look at the
fantastic view that
Sugarberry was now blocking out.
She stayed put. At least in a sitting position, she felt anchored to the ground. And from
she couldn't sense the abruptness of the drop-off. Wigwam remained silent from his perch over
the cliff, looking off to
relive the events of the early ponies. Sugarberry became relaxed and mellow as she sat in the
warm sunshine; and as
always these days, her thoughts turned to Vanguard. She missed him dreadfully, and spent hours
trying to come to
terms with his sudden departure. It was so out of character for him to pick up and leave without
due consideration of all
the repercussions his decision would have on not only himself, but on her, too. She sat in
Eventually she heard Wigwam's voice slice through her thoughts, cutting to the heart of
"Are you and Vanguard engaged?"
Rubbing her left foreleg self-consciously, Sugarberry replied, "No. We aren't."
"But you love him," Wigwam stated rather than questioned.
"Yes. I love him."
Sensing her need to be alone, Wigwam got to his hooves and walked along the edge of
the drop-off until
it again joined the bulk of the hill. From there, he continued to seek out signs of the previous
inhabitants of this
Sugarberry's thoughts had turned to the moment of Vanguard's departure for Italy. It
was time for him
to board the plane, but he had turned to her one last time.
"I love you, Sugarberry. Never forget that."
"And I love you totally."
But Vanguard had continued. "Remember, there are no strings attached to our
relationship. If you meet
someone else while I'm gone, you have my blessing."
"I'd never..." He had silenced her with a kiss. "I love you." And he was gone.
It was Baby Noddins' voice that brought Sugarberry abruptly to her senses once more.
crew had noted the sudden disappearance of Sugarberry and Wigwam and their eventual
appearance at the top of the
rocky outcrop; Ages had suggested they investigate the point of their departure. With a little
snooping, Spike had
stumbled upon the hidden pathway, and the group had arrived en masse with Rocky and Digger
appearing from the
more gradual route at the same time.
"Ooh!" squealed the fillies at the panoramic view. "This is magnificent!"
The young stallions were less vocal about their impressions, but Ages summed it up well
for all of
Spike proceeded to the very edge of the drop-off, causing Sugarberry to again grow
don't go so close to the edge," she whimpered.
"Why nwot?" asked Baby Noddins as she trotted up next to Spike.
"Oh, my!" whimpered Sugarberry as she closed her eyes once more and covered them
with her hooves.
"Somebody get her back here!" Laughingly, Rocky retrieved the foal and guided her to
"Why can't I wook at the pretty valley?" wondered Baby Noddins. "It's vwery
"Because Sugarberry is scared of heights," snickered Spike.
"And because I promised your mother that nothing would happen to you today,"
Sugarberry added as
she stood up and led Baby Noddins to the back of the ledge where it joined the hillside and
became less ominous.
"Swugarberry?" the little pony peered up at the twice-as-fancy mare. "I found this for
lavender foal offered Sugarberry a perfect arrowhead. It was black, glossy, and glasslike.
"Why, this is special!" declared Sugarberry as she lifted the object from Baby Noddins'
hoof. "Did you
find this all by yourself?"
"And you are right, Sugarberry," added Digger. "That arrowhead is special; it was
obsidian, one of the best sources of strong, sharp implements."
"It's superbly crafted," continued Ages. "And as there is no obsidian around this area, it
brought in from some distant place."
"Fascinating," responded Sugarberry. She held the piece almost reverently in her hoof.
"I think you
should keep this one for yourself, Baby Noddins."
"Oh, no, I have pwenty more."
Chocolate Chip giggled. "She found more that any of the rest of us, Sugarberry. Once
she got the hang
of it, she could spot them like an eagle."
"I only found one," complained Spring Song.
"That's because you spent more time nursing your sore hooves than you did in searching
Frilly Flower reminded her.
They suddenly heard the clatter of hooves hurriedly approaching, and Wigwam
appeared from behind
the ponies. Excitement showed on his face, and his words tumbled out.
"Behind the hill, I found something. You've gotta come see what it is!" He turned, and
over the back side of the hill the way he had come.
Sugarberry slipped the obsidian arrowhead in her backpack, and she and the others
over the uneven terrain that took them around the curvature of the hill.
On this side, the slope was littered with large boulders that had at various times worked
loose and rolled
down the incline. The spot where Wigwam was headed was a more recent landslide; dirt and
rocks had slid down from
the side of the hill and accumulated in a new outcropping hanging onto the side of the
But the dominant spectacle that greeted the ponies was a vein of black stone that rose
up out of the
hillside like a twisting serpent. The narrow ribbon of obsidian ended at the point where Wigwam
"What is this?" Ages asked in wonder.
"It's a vein of pure obsidian," Wigwam reflected. "It's unbelievable. It was uncovered
landslide occurred, I would imagine." He motioned to the scar on the hillside. "This will change
our ideas on where the
Native Ponies got their obsidian supply from."
The rest of the crew drew in close to get a better look when Baby Noddins, wandering
over the piles of
earth, asked, "What's in da cave?"
"Cave?" Wigwam questioned, turning to the foal who was standing in front of a gaping
hole in the side
of the hill. "I was so impressed with the obsidian that I missed the cave!"
Rocky and Digger strode to the cave entrance and peered inquisitively inside the dark
got a flashlight?" inquired Digger.
Wigwam produced a heavy-duty flashlight from his backpack and joined the two
stallions at the mouth
of the cave. Ages also had carried along a light, but had to fuss with the batteries to get them
working. Spike scurried to
join Wigwam, and the rest clustered in behind. The beam of the light revealed a well-formed
beckoning the explorers to enter.
"Is it safe to go inside?" Chocolate Chip asked, her voice quivering with
Wigwam moved the light beam along the open edges of the cave. "It appears that the
landslide caused a
fractured wall of the cave to let go." He examined the stability of the hillside above the cave
entrance along with Rocky
and Spike, while Baby Noddins asked Spring Song if they'd find a treasure in the cave.
"That would be nice, but highly unlikely," the filly laughed.
"Maybe we'll find a ghost!" joked Ages as he made a scary face and an appropriate howl
Noddins to scream and hide behind Sugarberry.
"Very funny." Sugarberry shivered and frowned at the young stallion as she comforted
Returning from their fact-finding mission, Wigwam, Rocky, and Spike all concurred that
it appeared to
be safe to enter the cave.
"All right!" cheered Digger. "Who goes first?" He looked expectantly at
"Well, as I'm the one with the biggest flashlight, I guess that would be me," the orange
surmised. He walked to the cave entrance with the others following close on his heals.
Chocolate Chip remembered having a small flashlight tucked away in her backpack for
occasions, and soon its small beam was added to the more powerful one. Once Ages got his
working, the interior of the
cave appeared even more welcoming. The light reflected back from smooth rock walls; Wigwam
directed his beam
upward to reveal a domed natural ceiling high over their heads. He was running the beam over
the back wall when
something colorful was caught in the light; he swung the flashlight back to examine it more
closely, and gasped.
Everyone's gaze was directed to the point on the wall that was highlighted by the ray.
voice echoed as she said, "It's a pwicture of a pwony!"
No one else said a word; they all simply moved closer to the wall and stared at the
wonder before them.
In muted colors of brown and orange and yellow, some pony from a time long before the present
representations of ponies in scenes of simple beauty. As Wigwam slowly moved the light along
the wall, more and
more details of history in action were revealed. A feeling of reverence and wonder hung tangibly
in the air.
"This is unbelievable!" whispered Ages.
"Unreal!" agreed Frilly Flower quietly.
"I can dwaw nearly that good," stated a not impressed Baby Noddins. Spring Song
giggled, and the
solemn mood was broken.
"I only wish that Clever Clover was here with us instead of out in the Flatlands," rued
Wigwam continued to study closely the artwork on the walls while the rest of the bunch
spread out to
return to the mouth of the cave or to look at stalactites and stalagmites that Chocolate Chip was
highlighting with her
flashlight. Ages was more interested in finding a passageway leading deeper into the belly of the
hill. Baby Noddins sat
down at the cave entrance to count her artifacts.
Sugarberry moved closer to Wigwam to watch his inspection of the art; she was
caught-up in the
overwhelming sense of discovery. She marveled at the preserved state of the figures that would
have had to have been
painted so many years ago. She wondered about the artist and the purpose for his creation of this
snapshot of the past.
A tiny tremor shook the floor of the cave, and in almost the same moment a rumble
seemed to swell-up
from the depths of the earth. Wigwam was instantly alert; he turned and issued a tense order:
"Everyone out! Move
now!" He shoved a startled Sugarberry ahead of him, and the frightened mare ran out of sheer
"Where's Baby Noddins!" she screamed, realizing that she had not noticed the foal since
become enraptured with the contents of the cave.
Chocolate Chip turned at the entrance to shout, "She was right here; she must have
Wigwam halted long enough to swing the arc of the flashlight around the perimeter of
the cave floor to
catch any hint of the lavender foal; he was ready to continue out when the beam caught sight of
her, crouched near the
mouth of the cave, but hidden by a piece of jagged rock. Wigwam dashed to her and grabbed her
into his strong
forelegs, then burst out into the daylight and across the hillside to a relative place of safety.
The foal in the meantime was crying and trying to force herself out of Wigwam's grip.
I dwidn't have time to pick ‘em up after I cwounted ‘em!" She beat on his shoulders with her tiny
The rumble had now reached the surface, and with a dust-laden belch, the cave entrance
inward, effectively sealing off the work of the unknown painter. The obsidian ridge seemed to
shudder, but remained
"My arty-facts!" whimpered the distraught Baby Noddins.
Sugarberry took her from Wigwam, and hugged her tightly while counting heads to
make sure no one
had been overlooked in the stampede to escape the destruction. When she was sure that everyone
was present and
accounted for, she sank to the ground and buried her face in Baby Noddins mane. No one could
hear her tears or her
prayers, but everyone felt her relief in having come through the unexpected ordeal with no serious
results. The fillies
clung to one another with tear-stained faces, Spike was completely subdued, and the stallions
looked at one another
sharing thoughts that were too emotional to put into words.
"What caused that?" Ages finally queried, shaking his mane off of his face.
"Rocky, you're the geologist. What did happen?" Wigwam directed to the copper-
"I can only guess, but it would appear to me that the heavy spring rains that caused the
opened up the cave also set off a chain reaction of events that caused a shift of the underlying
that in turn caused dislocation of the ground level sphere as well."
Wigwam looked in wonder at the stallion. "Whatever," was all he said.
Digger snickered. "What Rocky really means is that he doesn't have a clue!"
The ensuing laughter helped to alleviate some of the tenseness that had gripped the
ponies and dragon
under their stressful situation; and they hugged one another, bound now by a bond of survival.
Wigwam, however, could not help but be downhearted. "Those pictures could have
taught us so much!"
He fished some sheets of paper out of his bottomless backpack and proceeded to sketch all that he
could remember from
the cave walls.
Sugarberry tried to reassure him. "They are still there. And maybe when Clever Clover
gets back, he
can arrange to unearth the cave."
Wigwam appeared not to hear; he stared at his drawing and then looked up in
consternation "Do any of
you remember the first pictures we saw?" His eyes darted from one to the other of those circled
"They were done in red," Chocolate Chip hesitantly volunteered.
"There were two ponies running side-by-side," added Ages.
"They were plain," Spike determined.
Wigwam looked at Spike sharply. "Plain? What do you mean by ‘plain'?"
"They didn't have a rump design," Spike supplied as if it was the most obvious thing of
"That's what I thought, too! The pictures at the end of the cave wall had symbols, but
not the first
ones!" an excited Wigwam exclaimed. "Do you know what that means?" He continued without
waiting for an answer.
"The original drawings in that cave go back to the time before ponies had symbols!"
Baby Noddins looked confused. "Ember dwon't have a symbol, and she's not that old.
She don't have a
last nwame, either."
"I think Wigwam is referring to a time when no pony had a symbol," Chocolate Chip
whispered to the
"Do you mean that the pictures in the cave could prove the fact that our ancestors had
no rump pattern?"
asked Ages, beginning to share Wigwam's excitement.
"No rump pattern?" questioned Frilly Flower, turning her head to make sure hers was
still there. "That
would be so... ordinary."
Spring Song added her thoughts. "I never believed my teachers when they said that the
might not have had symbols."
Sugarberry prodded Wigwam. "Tell your story, Wigwam."
"It's not my story," Wigwam grinned at Sugarberry. "It is a story that has been
verbally throughout the ages of pony history." He motioned for the group to make themselves
comfortable on the
hillside, and he began his tale.
"At a point past the dawn of time, a humble and very poor young pony lived with his
grandmother near a
pony village. Because of their poverty, the colt had to scavenge food and shelter wherever he
could find it at the taunts
of the other ponies. When a drought struck the homeland of the ponies, everyone was reduced to
the same dire straits
for the food and water had become scarce; yet even now the colt and his grandmother were
"One day while out searching for any source of food that he could find, the colt saw
some of the
villagers trying to invade the nest of an eagle high in a tree. He tried his utmost to stop the ponies
from stealing the eggs
from the nest, but the ponies only pushed him away and continued their villainous
"It was later in the day as the boy still searched for some grass or grain to take home to
that the eagle from the beleaguered nest came to him. ‘You were compassionate toward my mate
and I, and our eaglets
in those eggs,' the eagle began. ‘Because you showed sorrow at our plight, I will now help you in
"The eagle took off in low flight over the woodland, directing the colt to a valley hidden
hills. The colt was overwhelmed as the valley was green and alive and had a spring sending forth
cool, fresh water.
Near the spring stood an old, decrepit pony, its mangy coat dirty and flea-bitten, its ankles
swollen. Its job done, the
eagle wheeled itself away into the sky.
"The mangy pony neighed softly to the bewildered colt, and led him under the trees
where a bed of
purple violets bloomed. Rolling itself in the violet blossoms, the unkept pony transformed itself
into a vivacious and
beautiful young filly who ordered the colt to paint a violet bouquet on her pure white side.
"The pony now directed the colt to fill two waterbags with the spring water, and pick
two baskets of
fruit off the laden trees; when he had completed this task, the violet-adorned pony and the colt
carried the food supply
back to the pony village. When the colt had set down his baskets of fruits and had unloaded the
bags of water from the
other pony, the pony promptly vanished. The villagers refused to believe that the colt had been
the bearer of the life-giving gift.
"When the fruit and water was used up, the colt once more returned to the hidden valley
where he again
found the pony in its former bedraggled state. Once more, the pony rolled in the violets and had
the colt paint a bouquet
on her side. And again, they took food and water to the village. The beautiful filly disappeared as
before, leaving the
colt at the mercy of the villagers.
"For a third time the colt made use of the bounty of the secret valley and the services of
pony who again transformed herself into a lovely filly with the bouquet of violets added to her
side. As she and the colt
approached the village with their cornucopia of food and water this time, however, the villagers
were duly amazed. For
as the two came closer, they were joined first by a sky-blue stallion with a puffy cloud painted on
his side; then by a
yellow mare with a bluebird on her side; and then a great multitude of ponies of every color-- but
all with some symbol
of the earth and its treasures on their sides. When the great herd reached the village square, all
the ponies vanished
except for the lone colt.
"The ponies of the village recognized this vision as a sign of the value of the colt, and
they accepted him
and his grandmother into their village where the two were treated with respect. And from that
time on, all foals born
into that village bore a symbol on their rump."
"Far out," Ages remarked in awe. Wigwam had a knack for turning a story into a
"That was great!" exclaimed Chocolate Chip.
"Could you come to one of the pre-history classes this summer and tell that?" queried
Sugarberry smiled. "Well done, Wigwam. You told it even better than you wrote
Baby Noddins tugged at Sugarberry's foreleg. "I'm hungwy.
Wigwam laughed and scooped the foal up. "Come on, little one. We've got to find you
The entire party fell into step, returning first to the rock platform and climbing down the
stairway, getting a drink from the river, then retracing their path to the grove of trees where their
food was stashed.
Thanks to the generous supply of food that everyone had packed, their was plenty to go around a
Being calmed by the passage of time, Sugarberry suddenly remembered the arrowhead
Nodding had given her on the cliff-top. "Baby Noddins," she exclaimed. "You didn't lose all your
artifacts. Here's the
obsidian one you found."
"But I gave thwat to you," Baby Noddins demurred.
"I'd like to give it back to you so you have a memento of the day," Sugarberry
Thinking a moment, Baby Noddins accepted the object from Sugarberry's outstretched
after another brief reflection, she offered the shiny point to Wigwam. "Me want you to have dis,"
crawling up into Wigwam's lap.
Wigwam accepted the gift with pleasure. "This is the finest example of Native Pony
Baby Noddins smiled her approval, then sighed. "Me sleepy."
"If the others are kind enough to clean up, I'll tell you another story," he offered the
"Wokay," she murmured as she made herself comfortable on his lap.
This time, Wigwam told a Native Pony tale about a colt who had been left behind one
morning when his
older brothers had gone out to pick berries. Feeling sad and left out, the colt threw himself onto
the ground and cried.
As he lay there, the sun rose in the sky. By midday, the hot rays of the sun burned the colt.
The colt now became angry at the sun, accusing it of treating him shamefully. "Why
have you punished
me?" he called to the sun. "I have done nothing to hurt you."
But the sun ignored the colt.
The colt went home, and his sister asked him why he was so angry; he told her of the
treatment. By morning, the colt had developed a plan. He asked his sister for a thread, but when
she gave him a linen
thread he returned it to her. "That is not good enough. I need a hair thread." So the young filly
plucked one filament of
her mane and offered that to her brother. As the colt took the hair between his hooves, it began
to grow longer.
The colt now took the hair to the spot where he had encountered the sun the previous
He made a noose of the hair and laid it in the path. When the unsuspecting sun reached the spot
where the noose lay, the
snare entangled the sun and choked it. The sky darkened and the sun called for help, imploring a
mouse to gnaw the
hair; it seemed like an eternity to the sun, but the mouse finally chewed his way through.
The colt disdainfully looked at the sun. "I've chastised you for your treatment of me
yesterday. You are
free to go now." The colt made his way back to his sister, bragging about what he had
accomplished. The sun, for its
part, rose once again returning daylight to the land.
Wigwam ended his tale and found that those doing the clean-up detail were more
attentive to his story
that Baby Noddins; she had fallen asleep almost instantly.
"Don't take it personally, Wigwam. The rest of us enjoyed it," Chocolate Chip
"And we are also all packed and ready to go," verified Spike.
"Well, let's hit the road!" declared Wigwam, rising. He nestled the sleeping foal against
and the tired but happy crew began retracing the route of the morning. It was almost dark when
they reached Dream
Valley. When Baby Noddins had been safely turned over to her parents, Wigwam accompanied
Chocolate Chip to their home.
Stopping at the mailbox, Chocolate Chip squealed. "You got a letter from Vanguard!"
She waved the
white envelope in front of Sugarberry's face.
"On that note, I'll leave you two," Wigwam grinned. "Oh, and Sug," he added as the
mare grabbed the
envelope from Chocolate Chip, "here's an arrowhead for you to remember the day by." He
presented her with a blue-gray point which she accepted with a smile.
"Thanks, Wigwam. I thought maybe I wasn't meant to have one of these." She looked
down at the
letter clutched in her other hoof, then back at Wigwam. "If you'll excuse me, I've got something
to take care of." She
turned and fled into the house.
"Vanguard can't get back too soon for me," Chocolate Chip rolled her eyes. "Would
you care to come
in for a soda?" she asked, hoping Wigwam wasn't feeling slighted after treating them to a
marvelous day in the
"No, thanks," he replied. "I've got something to take care of myself-- I want to add to
those drawings I
started of the cave paintings before I forget some of the details." He started down the porch
Chocolate Chip watched him go with a sentimental little grin on her face. "He's one
nice stallion," she
told herself pensively. She quickly shook her head, and laughing softly, entered the house and
closed the door.