Little Black Ant

By Ada M. Skinner and Eleanor L. Skinner

Once upon a time Little Black Ant washed her little black face and put on a pretty black gown. She sat near the window of her neat little house.

A bull passed by and looked at her.

“Good morning, pretty one,” roared he. “Tell me, will you marry me?”

“Ah, you must win me first,” said she. The bull roared so loud that Little Black Ant covered her ears with her hands.

“Big Bull, go on your way,” said she.

A dog passed by and looked at her.

“Good morning, pretty one,” barked he. “Tell me, will you marry me?”

“Ah, you must win me first,” said she. The dog barked so sharp that Little Black Ant covered her ears with her hands.

“Fierce dog, go on your way,” said she.

A cat passed by and looked at her.

“Good morning, pretty one,” mewed he. “Tell me, will you marry me?”

“Ah, you must win me first,” said she. The cat mewed so long that Little Black Ant covered her ears with her hands.

“Sly cat, go on your way,” said she.

A pig passed by and looked at her.

“Good morning, pretty one,” grunted he. “Tell me, will you marry me?”

“Ah, you must win me first,” said she. The pig grunted so fast that Little Black Ant covered her ears with her hands.

“Fat pig, go on your way,” said she.

A rat passed by and looked at her.

“Good morning, pretty one,” squeaked he. “Tell me, will you marry me?”

“Ah, you must win me first,” said she.

The rat squeaked so softly that Little Black Ant said to him, “Mr. Ratsmith, I will marry you.”

The next day they were married. All their friends said, “How happy Mr. and Mrs. Ratsmith are!”

One day the little wife said, “Mr. Ratsmith, I am going to church. Stir the soup while I am gone. Be sure to use a spoon with a long handle.”

But Mr. Ratsmith forgot what his wife had said. He stirred the soup with a short spoon. Splash! He fell into the soup-pot and was drowned.

When his wife came home she went to the kitchen. What a sad sight! Her husband was drowned in the soup-pot. Mrs. Ratsmith sat on her door-step and wept and wept.

Song-Bird hopped up to her and said,

“Little Black Ant,
With tearful eye,
Pray tell me why
You grieve and cry.”

“Poor Ratsmith is drowned in the soup-pot,” said Little Black Ant.

“Then I’ll cut off my bill,” chirped Song-Bird.

When Turtle-Dove saw Song-Bird she said,

“Tell me, Song-Bird, if you will,
Why did you cut off your bill?”

“Poor Ratsmith is drowned in the soup-pot,” said Song-Bird.

“And Little Black Ant,
With tearful eye,
Does nothing now
But grieve and cry.”

“Then I’ll clip my tail,” cooed Turtle-Dove. Away she flew to her little house.

When Dovecot saw Turtle-Dove she said,

“Oh, sweetest bird of all the dale,
Why did you clip off your tail?”

“Poor Ratsmith is drowned in the soup-pot,” said Turtle-Dove.

“And Little Black Ant,
With tearful eye,
Does nothing now
But grieve and cry.”

“Song-Bird has cut off his bill and I have clipped my pretty tail.”

“Then I’ll turn myself upside down,” said Dovecot.

When Crystal Fountain saw Dovecot she said,

“Dovecot, will you tell to me
Why upside down you seem to be?”

“Poor Ratsmith is drowned in the soup-pot,” said Dovecot.

“And Little Black Ant,
With tearful eye,
Does nothing now
But grieve and cry.”

“Song-Bird has cut off his bill, Turtle-Dove has clipped her pretty tail, and I’ve turned myself upside down.”

“Then I’ll overflow,” said Crystal Fountain.

When Royal Princess saw Crystal Fountain she said,

“Oh, Crystal Fountain, tell to me
Why you flow away to the deep blue sea?”

“Poor Ratsmith is drowned in the soup-pot,” said Crystal Fountain.

“And Little Black Ant,
With tearful eye,
Does nothing now
But grieve and cry.”

“Song-Bird has cut off his bill, Turtle-Dove has clipped her pretty tail, Dovecot has turned upside down, and I am flowing away to the deep blue sea.”

“Then I’ll break my pitcher,” cried Royal Princess.

So Royal Princess broke her pitcher; Crystal Fountain flowed to the sea; Dovecot turned herself upside down; Turtle-Dove clipped her tail; Song-Bird cut off his bill.

All this because poor Ratsmith was drowned in the soup-pot.

And Little Black Ant,
With tearful eye,
Does nothing now
But grieve and cry.

From Nursery tales from many lands, by Ada M. Skinner and Eleanor L. Skinner.
New York, Chicago, Boston: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917.

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Category:

Nursery tales

Illustrator:

Unknown

Region of origin:

EuropeSpain

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