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James Baldwin

The Ant and the Cricket

A silly young Cricket, who did nothing but sing through the warm sunny months of summer and spring, was sadly surprised when he found that at home his cupboard was empty, and winter had come. Not a crumb could be found on the snow-covered ground; not a flower could he see; not a leaf on a tree.

"Oh, what will become," said the Cricket, "of me?"

At last the poor Cricket, by hunger made bold, all dripping with wet, and all trembling with cold, to the house of an Ant went begging for food.

"Dear Ant," he began, "will you not be so good as to help a poor fellow, who has nothing to eat? I want a coat for my back, and shoes for my feet, a shelter from the rain, and a mouthful of grain. I wish only to borrow, I will pay you to-morrow—without them I must die of hunger and sorrow."


Said the Ant to the Cricket, "Do you know, my good friend, that we Ants never borrow, we Ants never lend? But tell me, I pray, did you lay nothing by when the weather was warm?"

Said the Cricket, "Not I! My heart was so light that I sang day and night, for all things looked gay."

"You sang, sir, you say? Go then," said the Ant, "and dance winter away."

Then, slamming the door in the poor Cricket's face, he went and sat down in his warm, cozy place, and said: "I am sure I'd be very, very poor if I idled away every warm summer day; and I think that this rule is both right and good, he who lives without work must go without food."