MANY years ago there was a pretty little ant, who was so methodic, neat, and well-behaved that it was like enchantment. One day when she was sweeping at the door of her house she found a penny. She said to herself, “What shall I buy with this penny? Shall I buy seeds? No, because I should not be able to crack them. Shall I buy sweets? No, that would be greedy.” After further consideration she went to a shop and bought some rouge. She went home, washed, and combed, and rouged her cheeks, and seated herself at the window.
Of course, as she was so adorned and so beautiful, everybody who passed fell in love with her. A bull passed and said to her:—
“Pretty little ant, would you like to marry me?”
“How would you love me?” responded the little ant
The bull began to bellow; the ant stopped her ears with both her hands.
“Go your way,” she said to the bull, “you frighten me!”
And the same thing happened with a dog that barked, a cat that mewed, a pig that grunted, and a cock that crowed. Every one spoke pleasantly to the ant, but no one gained her goodwill until a ratonperez . passed by and made love to her so delicately that the pretty little ant gave him her little black hand.
They lived like turtledoves, and were so happy, that the like was never seen since the world began.
It happened unfortunately that the little ant went to mass alone one day, after leaving the stew for dinner in charge of Ratonperez, warning him, so prudent was she, that he must not stir the stew with the little ladle, but with the large one. Unfortunately, Ratonperez did just the opposite to what his wife had told him; he took the small ladle to stir the stew,—and what she had foreseen happened! Ratonperez, through his stupidity, fell into the stew, as into a whirlpool, and was drowned!
When the little ant returned home she knocked at the door. Nobody replied, or came to open it. Then she went to the house of a neighbour to ask her to let her get in through the roof. But the neighbour would not allow that, so she sent for a locksmith to break open the door. The little ant went direct to the kitchen; she saw the stew, and there, alas, what grief! Ratonperez drowned! The little ant began to weep bitterly. The bird came and said to her: “Why do you cry?”
“Because Ratonperez has fallen into the stew.”
“Then I, the bird, will cut off my beak.”
The dove came and said to her:—
“Why, little bird, hast thou cut off thy beak?”
“Because Ratonperez has fallen into the stew, and the little ant mourns and weeps for him.”
“Then I, the dove, will cut off my tail.”
Said the clear fountain:—
“Why, dove, hast thou cut off thy tail?”
“Because Ratonperez has fallen into the stew, and the little ant mourns and weeps for him, and the bird has cut off his little beak, and I, the dove, have cut off my tail.”
“Then I, the clear fountain, will weep.”
The princess came to fill her pitcher.
“Why, dear fountain, do you weep?”
“Because Ratonperez has fallen into the stew, and the little ant mourns and weeps for him, and the little bird has cut off his little beak, and the dove has cut off her tail, and I, the clear fountain, will weep.”
“Then I, who am a princess, will break my pitcher.”
And I who tell it, end in lamentation, because the Ratonperez fell into the stew, and the little ant mourns and weeps for him.