The Grasshopper and the Ants
"Oh, the world owes me a living, Tra la lalala la."
The grasshopper was singing his song as he jumped through the fields. He almost jumped on top of some ants who were pulling a grain of corn up an ant hill. Said the grasshopper to the ants: "Why are you working all through the day? A summer day is a time to play!"
"We can't play," said the ants.
"Winter will soon be here." The busy little ants did not have time to feel the warm summer sun, or to run and jump just for fun. From the beginning of day till the end, they were busy hauling the corn away. Winter was coming.
They had no time to play. All summer the grasshopper danced his grasshopper dances in the grasses. When he was hungry, he reached out and ate. And the grasshopper sang: "The good book says: The world provides. There's food on every tree. Why should anyone have to work? Not me! Oh, the world owes me a living, Tra la lalala la." With that he took a big swig of honey from a blue harebell that grew above his head. Then he spit a big wet spit of grasshopper tobacco juice.
It nearly landed on a little ant who was dragging a load of cherries to store in the ant house for the winter. Said the grasshopper to the ant: "The other ants can work all day. Why not try the grasshopper's way? Come on, let's sing and dance and play! Oh, the world owes me a living, Tra la lalala."
The little ant was so charmed by the music that he dropped his heavy load and started to dance. Then came the queen, The Queen of All the Ants. And The Queen of All the Ants frowned on the dancing ant so that he picked up his cherries and went back to the other busy ants. Then The Queen of All the Ants spoke sober words to the grasshopper:
"You'll change your tune when winter comes and the ground is white snow." The grasshopper made only a courtly bow. "Winter is a long way off," he said. "Do you dance? Let's go." "Oh, the world owes me a living, Tra la la lalala. The other ants can work all day. Why not try the grasshopper's way. Come on, let's sing and dance and play!"
But even as he sang and danced and played on his fiddle, The Queen of the All the Ants hurried away. She, like the other ants, had no time to play. All through the long lazy summer months the grasshopper went on singing:
"Oh, the world owes me a living, Tra la lala. Why are you working all through the day? A summer day is a time to play!"
There was not tomorrow. There was only today, and the sleet and the snow seemed far away. But the little ants worked harder than ever. As long as the sun was the sky, they went back and forth carrying the foods from the field into their ant houses. Then the winter wind began to blow. It blew the leaves off all the trees. The ants ran into their ant houses and closed the door, and you didn't see them in the fields any more. Every day the winds would blow.
And then one day, SNOW. The grasshopper was freezing. He couldn't find any leaves to eat. All he had was his fiddle and his bow. And he wandered along, lost in the snow. He had nothing to eat and nowhere to go. Then far off he saw one leaf still
clinging to a tree. "Food! Food!" cried the hungry grasshopper, and he leaned against the wind and pushed on toward the tree. But just as he got there the wind blew the last dry leaf away. It fluttered away among the snowflakes. The grasshopper dropped his fiddle and watched the last leaf go.
It fluttered away through the white snowflakes.It drifted slowly away.It was gone. And then the grasshopper came to the house of the busy ants and their Queen. He could hear them inside there having a dance. They had worked hard all summer, and now they could enjoy the winter. The grasshopper was too cold to go on. The wind blew him over, and he lay there where he fell. His long green jumping and dancing legs were nearly frozen. Then very slowly he pulled himself through the snow to the house of the ants and knocked. When the ants came to the door, they found him there, half frozen. And ten of the kind and busy ants came out and carried the poor grasshopper into their house. They gave him warm corn soup. And they hurried about, making him warm. Then The Queen of All the Ants came to him. And the grasshopper was afraid, and he begged of her: "Oh, Madame Queen, Wisest of ants, please, please, give me another chance." The Queen of All the Ants looked at the poor, thin, frozen grasshopper as he lay shivering there. Then she spoke these word:
"With ants, just those who work may stay. So take your fiddle-and PLAY!" The grasshopper was so happy that his foot began beating out the time in the old way, and he took up his fiddle and sang:
"I owe the world a living, Tra la lala. I've been a fool the whole year long. Now I'm singing a different song. You were right, I was wrong. Tra lalala la." Then all the ants began to dance, even The Queen of All the Ants.
And the grasshopper sang:
"Now I'm singing a different song. I owe the world a living, tra la lala la."