Chapter Eleven: The
Excuse me...Howdy there, ma'am?" The face was blurry and far
too cheerful for how Teacup felt. Also the hoof shaking her awake was
none too gentle. "Ah don't want to pry into yur business or
nothin', but it's a mighty cold mornin', what with fall comin' on an'
all, to be sleepin' on the ground like that. Now ah don't mind none,
or nothing, but I'm a might worried that you might, well, be in some
kind of distress an' all, what with sleepin' out here and such."
shivered. She was very cold, and her joints ached from sleeping on
the ground. She tried to remember what the heck she was doing there.
Gradually, her foggy memory cleared, and she remembered having
wandered out to the edge of town, because she didn't want to face
Petal. She hadn't wanted to return to their shared room. Somehow she
had thought it was a good idea to curl up under an apple tree. After
all, the day had been perfect.
the Running Of The Leaves was coming up. The leaves had to be turned
to autumn colors for that, and this required the pegasai to adjust
the temperature at night so that the leaves would change. Teacup had
been so preoccupied that she had forgotten about that. No wonder she
felt so frosty.
My name's Tea..cup." She was still waking up, even if her mind
was clearing, and her mouth felt like several raccoons had made an
outhouse in it during the night.
beggin' yur pardon and such, I was wondrin' if maybe you might be
hungry. We're fixin' to make some breakfast back at the farmhouse,
and you'd be welcome to join us, if you'd like."
was athletic for a mare, orange with a soft yellow mane and tail. Her
mane was tied in the pony equivalent of pigtails, and had fixed her
tail that way as well, so as to keep both from interfering with her
work. She wore a wide-brimmed hat, and a friendly face. "Name's
Applejack, this here's my farm. We grow apples, family business'n
all. Glad to meet ya, Teacup."
Teacup was having some trouble getting to her hooves; she was sore
and stiff, and had just come to the conclusion that anything
was almost certainly preferable to sleeping on the ground. There was
also no denying that she was hungry; her stomach was making sounds
like two Everfree monsters disagreeing over a potential mate.
she knew what she wanted to eat. She knew exactly what she wanted.
And she wanted it a lot.
Applejack?" Teacup was now fully upright, and much more awake
"I'd love to take you up on your offer of breakfast! I live on a
farm myself, down by South Withers, and I haven't had a good, down
home breakfast in months."
shucks, we can take care of that! Withers? You're a long way from
home, if'n you don't mind me sayin'." The two had begun to walk,
Applejack leading the way through the orchard to the big red
farmhouse just ahead.
been on a long journey." Teacup was limping a little, but her
joints were slowly warming up "Listen Applejack, I've got a
really strong desire for a taste of my home. Back on my farm, we
always ate biscuits and tea for breakfast, and our biscuits were
special. They won a blue ribbon and everything. Could I make you an
offer? If you'd let me use your kitchen, I would like to whip up a
batch of those biscuits for you and yours. Do you think that might be possible?"
want to make us all biscuits for breakfast? Well, that's very kind o'
ya, an' it'll save Big Mac and me a peck o' work, so sure, if'n
that's what ya' really want to do. Can't hardly say no!"
rambling farmhouse was big and roomy, and if not in the most perfect
repair, had the warm, homey feeling of a place that had been truly
loved. After being introduced to Applejack's elderly Granny Smith,
and the appropriately named Big Mac, Teacup was led to the the
kitchen. There, Applejack assisted her by bringing forth the needed
ingredients and tools, and Teacup set about making Missus Provender's
Prize Winning Biscuits for the small family.
stirred the bowl, a long wooden spoon in her teeth, Teacup's memory
slipped back to her happy days on the Provender Farm, and she
couldn't help a tear forming in her eye. "Somethin' wrong? Kin
ah help?" Applejack had seen the tear fall into the batter.
sorry." Teacup sniffed and smiled "Just remembering home.
Your place reminds me of my farm, and I miss it a lot."
reckon' ah kin understand that perfectly. Ah always feel th' same,
when I'm away from home myself." The orange farm pony stood
close to Teacup, always ready to help with an ingredient, but mostly
just to be friendly. Applejack reckoned that the poor white mare
likely hadn't enough bits to afford a room, and being down on her
luck, had been forced to sleep on the ground.
first batch was in the oven, Applejack set about the issue of tea.
She had to dig around in the larder a bit, until she found the tea
jar she knew was back there somewhere. "We don't drink a lot'a
tea, ta' tell the truth, but there ain't no reason why we can't
today. Ah don't know how good this here is, but it's tea, and it's
what we got."
sure it will be wonderful." Teacup really liked her hostess, and
was glad she had been discovered by her.
Teacup was bringing the tray of biscuits out of the oven, and the
warm smell set everypony's mouth to watering. Nothing smelled as good
as Provender Biscuits in the morning, Teacup thought, and she was
happy to share this joy with her new farm friends.
down in the kitchen, at an old wood table, Granny Smith gummed her
biscuit with approval, and the muscular Big Mac wolfed several down
at a time. Applejack, for her part, was not faint with praise: "I
reckon these here are the best biscuits ah ever done ate."
There was jam and butter on the table, and the sound of smacking lips
decided early on that a second batch would be a good idea, so Teacup
was already mixing it. "Hey there, Teacup, you ain't had any
yurself! Ah got a cup of tea here for ya, why don't ya set a spell
and have some o' yur own biscuits an' let me finish for ya?"
Applejack had gotten up and ambled over to Teacup's side again.
of the biscuits had driven Teacup half mad from hunger, but she was
determined to be good to her hosts. "Just a moment" she
mumbled through the spoon, as she finished her mixing. "Actually,
I am famished. Thank you, Applejack!"
leaned over the table and took a biscuit. She moved it to a little
plate by her, and as she set it down, she bit half of it away, the
soft biscuit resting on her tongue. She leaned over and took a sip of
tea, the biscuit melting into the warmness. The flavor and aroma of
tea and freshly baked biscuit completely filled her senses.
her memory returned to Provender Farm, and Missus Provender was
smiling at her, and the chickens were perfect and beautiful, the
straw was golden like lovely morning, and the floor smelled of
healthy wood, of summers past, and flowers and hay and happy meals of
good food and much laughter. Every little thing, every smell and
taste and feeling, every butterfly hovering over the alfalfa was
wonder and beauty and a true miracle, and each moment a treasure,
because she alone knew just how impossible it was. With that taste,
with that bite of biscuit, she knew down to the depth of her being
that not even Hoofington could compare, because she already had an
entire world to compare her farm, HER farm to, and she finally, fully
understood Petal's words to her, and also how wise immortal Celestia
must truly be to make her wait one full day.
a sound. It was like air filling an empty space, a swirling sort of
sound, almost musical, punctuated by a tone so definite and final
that it could not be questioned. Teacup's right flank tingled, as
though an electrical current had passed through it.
head shot up, her neck rigid, her legs wide. She turned her head to
the right, seeing AppleJack's wide eyes and the look of surprise on
her face. Teacup lowered her view as she craned her head and curved
her flank, already somehow certain of what she would behold.
Teacup's flank, shining in the morning light, was the image of a
teacup and two biscuits, a trinity of symbols that somehow she
instantly understood, for they followed the sudden realization of her
heart. In that moment, she knew that her very soul had been saved by
a bite and a sip, by knowing that the price of her heaven was the
memory of a long lost hell.
started crying, large tears rolling down her smiling face, and
Applejack was going on about how she had seen it appear, and how she
hadn't noticed that Teacup was a 'blank flank' and that she was
really sorry for saying 'blank flank' out loud and was Teacup alright
because she was crying, and Teacup had to explain that it was because
she was happy, and everything became confusing for a while, but it
was good confusing, and that was OK, it was better than OK.
walked nervously back and forth in front of the library. She kept
scanning the roads, and the sides of the lot for any sign of Teacup.
It was almost noon once again, and Teacup was very aware that
Twilight had spent the night making sure she knew just the right
spell and that it would remove exactly the right memories, while
leaving everything else alone.
was truly what Teacup wanted, then Petal would accept it.
Twilight had explained how the erasure would remove selectively any
mention or suggestion of Earth from Teacup's memories, but that it
would not eliminate anything that had happened to her since arriving
in Equestria. Teacup would remember Petal, she would remember going
on their journey, she would know that she had sought to have her
memories erased, but she simply would not know what those memories
were. Any conversation Petal had shared with Teacup would appear
edited to her; Teacup would remember having talked with Petal, and
any emotions she had felt, but all details about Earth would simply
comforted Petal somewhat, since she did fear losing her friendship
with Teacup over this. But Twilight had assured her that even if
Teacup would no longer remember every detail of their time together,
any feelings of shared joy or gratitude or friendship would be untouched.
about to go back inside the library for a bit when she noticed a
familiar white shape approaching. The violet mane was unmistakable;
Teacup was coming. Petal's heart sank a bit, for she knew that it was
too late, but she resolved to be the best friend she could be,
stopped a few feet from Petal, in profile, showing her left side. She
seemed shy, somehow, and looked off to the edge of the library, never
meeting Petal's eyes.
Teacup spoke, her head lowered, her eyes half-lidded, a faint smile
playing on her lips. "Would you do me a favor?"
didn't know what was going on, but whatever it was, she had already
decided what her response would always be. "Of course, Teacup.
What do you need me to do?"
need you to take me back home, so that every day can remain... amazing."
Teacup turned to face the other way, deliberately showing off her
new cutie mark, and Petal saw the teacup and the two biscuits, and
tears filled her eyes. Somehow, Teacup had finally understood, and
Petal was so grateful that there would be no memory erasure today, or ever.
was strangely disappointed; she had studied all night and now she
wasn't going to get to perform any fascinating new magic. She left in
a huff, intent on finding anypony that might have some memory, any
memory that they wanted to lose, if she possibly could.
it was that Petal found herself back on the road, headed towards
Provender Farm, with her best friend Teacup.
journey home was made much easier thanks to a word with the local
weather pegasus; she turned out to be yet another of the original
ambassadors to Earth, and Spike was able to convince her to put the
word out that two travelers needed clear skies to get home. It helped
to have friends in high places, it seemed, even in Equestria.
Teacup stopped only briefly in Hoofington, just long enough to refill
their traveling supplies. Petal was surprised that Teacup did not
want to take in a show or stay a week or two, but Teacup was adamant;
the harvest was coming, and she needed to get home as quickly as
possible so as to help the Provenders.
finally reached South Withers, most of the substantial number of bits
they had made during their first time in Hoofington were finally
gone, so they had a simple, inexpensive meal, and begged the Toffee
twins to crash in their home for one night, until they could set out
down the very last road on their return journey; the road that led to
the Provender Farm.
morning, they found themselves on that road, heading home. In the
distance ahead, vast fields of wheat and corn lead to a small but
Teacup's eyes searched the familiar landscape "Do you think
Missus Provender...." Teacup's voice trailed off, and her ears
you think... she missed me?" Teacup looked genuinely concerned.
Teacup. You silly filly! - of course she missed you! She loves
you, Teacup. Goodness." Petal stared at Teacup. "What
brought this on?"
I don't know... I guess it's just been so long, and really, I AM
just some newfoal she took in to work on her farm, after all."
Teacup's head hung even lower as she ambled.
you are my friend, but damn... sometimes you just aren't the
most aware pony I've ever met. It's frustrating, to tell you the
truth." Petal shook her head.
know." Teacup raised her head and sighed. "Thanks for
putting up with me."
sighed in return, and then gave her friend a soft, loving smile.
Farm was the same as Teacup remembered it, save that now the crops
were full and ready. Mister Provender was the first to greet them,
and the old stallion held Teacup tightly under his neck for a long
time, pulling her tight against his chest. Inside the kitchen was
Missus Provender, who, for the first time that Teacup had even seen,
the fuss and tears and laughter of their reunion had passed, after
the big dinner that Missus Provender threw together to celebrate
Teacup's return, and after all the fuss over Teacup's new cutie mark
was done with, Teacup found herself alone at last with Missus
Provender. Petal was asleep upstairs in Teacup's bed, they were used
to sharing beds by now when it was required. Durum had retreated
upstairs as well, knowing that Cornflower and Teacup needed some time together.
Provender made tea, and there they were, in the night, at the same
table where Teacup had first received her name.
ya manage to find a fix to yer... problem?" Missus
Provender poured tea for the two of them.
think, after a fashion, that I did." Teacup felt so many
emotions she had no words for most of them "Cornflower..."
It was not often that Teacup had ever used Missus Provender's first
name out loud. "I want to tell you about it, if you're willing
Celestia, Teacup! All I ever wanted is for ya to open up ta me!
I've been worried sick about ya for a long time." It was
a surprisingly open admission by the normally reserved Missus
Provender, but the real weight behind her words was in her wet,
was... afraid." Teacup began to shake with emotion.
"I was afraid that you wouldn't really want to hear, I was
afraid that what I had to say would harm you somehow, I was afraid...because..."
Teacup's tears fell onto the table "...in my heart, you are the
mother I never had. I...I love you. I wish you were my
mother. I would be so proud if you were. I am so grateful you
took me in. I'm so grateful to have been allowed to stay here, to
work here, for you to put up with me, and I just want to be here, on
the farm, with you forever, I just, I just..." Teacup
just couldn't speak any more.
jus' listen to me, Teacup..." Cornflower looked down at Teacup's
new Mark "Teacup....Biscuit... Provender! I expect my
fillies ta come an' talk ta me about anything, that's what I'm here
for. Your sisters never gave me this kind 'a trouble, so I
expect ya ta just stop that kind 'a nonsense from now on. Ya hear?"
Biscuit Provender!' Teacup overflowed with emotion and she had
barely enough strength left to put her head down on the table,
sobbing from relief and joy. The tea spilled, but with all the tears,
it didn't really matter. Cornflower laid her own head across Teacup's
back, a mother's embrace, and nuzzled Teacup as though she were but a foal.
they leave the farm, really leave the farm, they don't come back
- Cornflower recalled her own thoughts so long ago - except sometimes,
Cornflower happily realized, except sometimes, when they do.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
To TCB Story Index
stayed on at Provender Farms,
quite good at making
muffins. She finally had
found a home,
with her very best
Lost In The Herd Series:
Four: Teacup, Down On The Farm
Conversion Bureau Novels:
Ounces: A story of eight and one half ponies
Conversion Bureau: Code Majeste
Conversion Bureau: The 800 Year Promise
Conversion Bureau: Going Pony
Michelson and Morely
Reasonably Adamant Down With Celestia Newfoal Society!
Her Last Possession
Conversion Bureau: PER Equitum
Conversion Bureau: Brand New Universe
Non-Conversion Bureau Fanfics:
Cream Pony Summer
Around The Bend