A Wild Time
written by Sugarberry

Chocolate Chip found Sugarberry sitting at the kitchen table, depressed and a bit grouchy.

"What's bothering you, Sugarberry?" Chocolate Chip asked. "We've got to get a lunch packed."

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 there wasn't 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 right consistency."

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 measuring ingredients?"

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 life in 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 company.

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 Chip.

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 instructed.

"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 beverage."

By the time the two had gathered up everything they wanted to take, it was time to meet the others. 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 wash the strawberries last night" She frowned down at her daughter.

"They weren't that dwirty, anyway," countered Baby Noddins, grabbing the pack from her mother.

"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 Spike.

The first part of the walk was easy as it encompassed frequently used paths that were well-marked and 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 foliage.

"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 picnic," Wigwam instructed.

"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 river?"


"The ponies used to camp in this valley near the river, and they spent time during the winter months 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 granted," admitted 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 bad years?"

"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 basket and 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 backpack.

"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. Wigwam supplied 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 Noddins proudly 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 eat.

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 patiently worked 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 attention.

"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 fact."

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, followed, too.

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 searching, although 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 Sugarberry when 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, stairwell.

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. Sugarberry was speechless.

"Was it worth the climb?" Wigwam questioned.

Sugarberry nodded her head. "This is all too grand!" she whispered, fearing any loud sound would 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 heights."

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 limp.

"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 this position, 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 abandoned silence.

Eventually she heard Wigwam's voice slice through her thoughts, cutting to the heart of her mental journey.

"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 place.

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. The college 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 them... "Awesome!"

Spike proceeded to the very edge of the drop-off, causing Sugarberry to again grow queasy. "Please 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 Sugarberry's side.

"Why can't I wook at the pretty valley?" wondered Baby Noddins. "It's vwery nice."

"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 ‘ou." The 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 carved from 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 probably was 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 for artifacts," 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 disappeared 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 followed Wigwam 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 promontory.

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 now stopped.

"What is this?" Ages asked in wonder.

"It's a vein of pure obsidian," Wigwam reflected. "It's unbelievable. It was uncovered when that 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 hole. "Anyone 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 room-like space beckoning the explorers to enter.

"Is it safe to go inside?" Chocolate Chip asked, her voice quivering with excitement.

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 causing Baby Noddins to scream and hide behind Sugarberry.

"Very funny." Sugarberry shivered and frowned at the young stallion as she comforted the little foal.

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 Wigwam.

"Well, as I'm the one with the biggest flashlight, I guess that would be me," the orange stallion 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 emergency 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. Baby Noddins' 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 had painted 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 Sugarberry.

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 terror.

"Where's Baby Noddins!" she screamed, realizing that she had not noticed the foal since she had become enraptured with the contents of the cave.

Chocolate Chip turned at the entrance to shout, "She was right here; she must have gotten out already!"

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. "My arty-facts! I dwidn't have time to pick ‘em up after I cwounted ‘em!" She beat on his shoulders with her tiny hooves.

The rumble had now reached the surface, and with a dust-laden belch, the cave entrance collapsed inward, effectively sealing off the work of the unknown painter. The obsidian ridge seemed to shudder, but remained intact.

"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- colored geology major.

"I can only guess, but it would appear to me that the heavy spring rains that caused the landslide that opened up the cave also set off a chain reaction of events that caused a shift of the underlying subterranean base-rock 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 around him.

"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 all.

"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 foal.

"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 early ponies 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 handed down 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 outcasts.

"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 enterprise.

"It was later in the day as the boy still searched for some grass or grain to take home to his grandmother 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 yours.'

"The eagle took off in low flight over the woodland, directing the colt to a valley hidden between two 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 the slovenly 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 mind-picture of reality.

"That was great!" exclaimed Chocolate Chip.

"Could you come to one of the pre-history classes this summer and tell that?" queried Ages.

Sugarberry smiled. "Well done, Wigwam. You told it even better than you wrote it."

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 a snack."

The entire party fell into step, returning first to the rock platform and climbing down the hidden 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 second time.

Being calmed by the passage of time, Sugarberry suddenly remembered the arrowhead that Baby 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 coaxed.

Thinking a moment, Baby Noddins accepted the object from Sugarberry's outstretched hoof. Then, after another brief reflection, she offered the shiny point to Wigwam. "Me want you to have dis," she explained, crawling up into Wigwam's lap.

Wigwam accepted the gift with pleasure. "This is the finest example of Native Pony skill I've seen."

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 tired-eyed foal.

"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 sun's harsh 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 day. 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 teased.

"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 his shoulder, 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 Sugarberry and 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 wild.

"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 steps.

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.

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