The Honest Ant, by Jeannette Marks

The Cheerful Cricket and Others

Anty,—when she was Godmother to any of the little ones her full name was given as Anty Hill—well, to go on, Anty was in a great hurry. She often preached against hurry, but she found that there was really so much worth while doing in life and that life was so short, she had to hurry once in a while to get it all done. This particular morning there was more than ever to do. First she had milked the cows, you would call them little white bugs, but they were really cows, which she drove into a tiny pen. There, sitting on a milking stool Sandy Ant had whittled out of a bit of straw for her, she milked as fast as she could make her hands go. After that she went bustling into the house, and taking the silkie tassel from a piece of Timothy Grass she swept the house out till it was as clean and fresh as a May morning.

She was very happy; it was her nephew Sandy Ant's birthday and he was coming of age, for he was just twenty-one hours old. She still had his cake to bake, and candles to make from the waxy bayberries that grew near the shore, and last but not least his presents to arrange. Sandy had always been a very good boy and so to-day everybody had remembered him and wished him well.

But what excited Anty Hill more than anything else was that the King and Queen, for the Ant State was a monarchy, had sent a special messenger to say that they would honor them with their royal presence on this occasion. Anty Hill had been a hard working, honest ant all her life and she felt that this honor was a reward for all that she had done to bring Sandy up as a good and honest citizen of the kingdom.

She bustled about busily, and every time Sandy came in the house she shoo-ed him out and told him to go take care of the horses and cows, By and by she called him in and bade him put on his best clothes. She didn't tell him that the King and Queen were coming, for Sandy was a bashful boy and she was afraid this would frighten him.

Now the King and Queen had heard reports far and wide of the honesty and goodness of Anty Hill and her nephew Sandy. If there were any Ants sick in the kingdom Anty Hill and Sandy did something to help them. All this pleased the King and Queen very much, and they made up their minds to do something for Anty and Sandy. The other guests had come, and it was time for the King and Queen. At last their coach drew up in front of the door. It was a beautiful, shiny green beetle shell drawn by two gnats. Two little liveried green midges tumbled off the coach-box, opened the coach-door, and the King and Queen stepped out, while the guests bowed low to the ground as they passed up the entrance to the house where Anty and Sandy were waiting. Anty Hill bowed low to the King and kissed the Queen's hand, while Sandy bowed very low to both.

Then the King called all the guests about him and made a little speech. He said he always liked to reward kindness and honesty, and that Anty Hill and her nephew Sandy had been as kind and honest as any two people in his kingdom. After this the King drew out his sword which was a fine blade of sharp grass, and telling Sandy to kneel down, he said: "I dub thee Knight of the Red Hill." This was a great honor and ever afterward Sandy served the King; and Anty Hill, who became Lady Hill, lived with him at the court.

That night Mrs. Cricky told all the little Cricketses she hoped they would remember Sandy's honor, and that if they helped other people they, too, might be honored some day. Chee and Chirk and Chirp looked much awed, and waved their little pink clover sunbonnets helplessly in the air till Father Cricky said he did wish they would stop, it kept him from seeing the music he was studying for the Marsh Grass Vesper Quartette.

"What is it, Father?" called Chee, who was always curious.

"It's a Cantata," said Mr. Cricky. Chee nudged Chirk and whispered:

"Say, what's that?"

"O, I don't know," said Chirk, "let's ask him to sing it, then we'll find out."

"All right, you do," said Chee.

Father Cricky was very glad to sing it, and this was the song he sang:

Tree-Top Cantata

Moderately fast

  Swing tree top, swing,
  This morning bright
  Swing gold and green
  In gay sunlight
  Swing, tree-top, swing.

  Swing tree top, swing
  In night time too,
  There's shining stars,
  And falling dew,
  Swing, tree-top, swing.