Author Ellen Jackson

Ants Can't Dance

ANTS CANíT DANCE by Ellen Jackson

There was once a little boy named Jonathan whose parents knew many things. They knew how to paint doors and how to do chores. Jonathanís father knew about caterpillars and cheese. Jonathanís mother knew about oatmeal and bees. Between the two of them, they knew almost everything.

Jonathan didnít know everything yet, but he was learning. Every day he went to school and learned a little more.

One day Jonathan was walking home from school when he saw a strange sight. An ant was not walking in the usual way. Oh no! It was skipping and tripping as sassy as could be. Jonathan got down on his hands and knees to see what was what. The ant was tap-dancing. Tappety-tap-tap. Hop, hop, hop.

Quick as a blink, Jonathan scooped up the ant and raced home to show his mother and father.

"Mother. Dad. Come look. I found an ant that can dance," said Jonathan.

"Now, Jonathan," said Jonathanís mother. "Ants canít dance."

"Absolutely, positively not," said Jonathanís father.

"This one can," said Jonathan.

He put the ant on the table.

"Dance, little ant," said Jonathan. The ant just stood there and looked at its toes.

"Maybe some music would help," said Jonathan. He put on a CD of "Tea for Two." The ant walked over to a bread crumb and started munching.

"Jonathan," said his mother. "Ants canít dance."

"Not even a jitterbug," said Jonathanís dad.

Munch, munch went the ant.

"Well, itís my ant and Iím going to keep it, anyway." said Jonathan. He scooped up the ant and put it in a glass jar with some bread crumbs. Then he carried the glass jar to his room.

Tappety-tap-tap danced the ant as soon as they were along together.

The next day Jonathan was walking home from school as usual. He was very busy thinking about his dancing ant. Suddenly he heard a voice say: "Pssst. Over here."

Jonathan looked around, but no one was in sight. Then he noticed a peanut lying on the sidewalk in front of him. He got down on his hands and knees to look the peanut in the eye.

"Pass the salt and butter the corn," said the peanut.

"A talking peanut!" said Jonathan. "Wait until Mother and Dad see this."

Quick as a blink, he scooped up the peanut and ran home to show his parents.

"Mother. Dad. Come look. I found a talking peanut," said Jonathan.

"Oh, Jonathan," said his mother. "Peanuts canít talk."

"Absolutely, positively not," said Jonathanís father.

"This one can," said Jonathan. He put the peanut on the table.

"Talk, little peanut," said Jonathan.

The peanut just sat there doing nothing in particular.

"Jonathan," said his mother. "Peanuts canít talk."

"Not a word," said Jonathanís father.

"Well, Iím going to keep this peanut, anyway," said Jonathan. "It can talk when it wants to."

He carried the peanut to this room and laid it on the windowsill. Tappety-tap-tap went the ant in the jar, all six ant feet doing a quick shuffle.

"Higgledy-piggledy, pigs in a pile," said the talking peanut.

"Drat you, peanut!" said Jonathan. "Why wouldnít you talk for my mother and father?"

"Iím shy," said the peanut. "And a little nutty."

The next day Jonathan was walking home from school again, thinking very hard about his dancing ant and his talking peanut. Suddenly he heard whistling: "Tweedle dee dee. Diddle diddle dee dee."

Jonathan looked around, but no one was in sight except a tiny stone lying in the middle of the sidewalk. Jonathan got down on his hands and knees to see what was what.

"Sheíll be coming Ďround the mountain when she comes..." whistled the stone.

"A whistling stone!" said Jonathan. "Well, I donít suppose it will whistle for Mother and Dad, but Iíll take it home, anyway."

Quick as a blink, he scooped up the stone and ran home.

"Hello, Jonathan," said Jonathanís father. "How was your day at school?"

"Did anything interesting happen?" asked Jonathanís mother.

"Not a thing," said Jonathan.

"Oh say can you see..." whistled the stone from Jonathanís pocket.

"What was that?" asked Jonathanís father.

Jonathan pulled out the whistling stone. It was still whistling The Star-Spangled Banner.

"Why this is amazing!" said Jonathanís father.

"A whistling stone!" said Jonathanís mother. "We must call the museum at once!"

Soon, Jonathanís house was full of important people. A famous geologist had come to examine the stone. Newspaper reporters were talking to Jonathanís mother and father.

The stone whistled, "Over the river and through the wood to grandfatherís house we go..." as loud as a piccolo.

At last the geologist was ready to make her report.

"This is a very rare stone," she said to the reporters. "We must take this stone to the museum and study it at once."

"But itís my stone!" said Jonathan. "I want to keep it."

"A stone like this belongs to the world," said the geologist, scooping up the stone and putting it in her bag.

The next evening Jonathanís parents read all about the stone in the newspaper. It was being studied by many important scientists. After that it would appear on The Tonight Show whistling with a rock group called The Rolling Stones. It had even signed a contract to make movies in Hollywood.

"And to think, we discovered it," said Jonathanís mother.

"But itís gone," said Jonathan. "It doesnít belong to me anymore."

"Itís a very famous stone now," said Jonathanís father. "You wouldnít want to stand in its way, would you?"

"I suppose not," said Jonathan.

"This stone business has made me think twice about your ant and your peanut," said Jonathanís mother thoughtfully.

"Oh, Mother," said Jonathan. "The ant ran away yesterday, and I ate the peanut this morning."

"Martha, you know as well as I do that peanuts canít talk," said Jonathanís father.

"And ants canít dance," added Jonathan. "Good night."

He walked quickly to his room. Hidden in the back of the closet was the glass jar with the ant in it.

Tappety-tap-tap danced the ant, sassy as could be. Hop, hop, hop.

"Hoist the Jolly Roger," said the peanut. It was hidden in one of Jonathanís shoes.

Jonathan crawled into bed holding the glass jar in one hand and the peanut in the other hand. The ant was doing high kicks.

"Tell me a story," whispered Jonathan to the peanut.

"Once upon a time there were three bears..." began the peanut. But before it could say another word, Jonathan was fast asleep.