Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Georgia: The Grasshopper and the Ant

This story is a wonderful example of a cumulative tale; you can see more of them here: Cumulative Tales.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Georgian Folktales unit. Story source: Georgian Folk Tales, by Marjory Wardrop (1894).




The Grasshopper and the Ant

THE grasshopper and the ant became friends and entered into a compact of brotherhood, promising never to separate. They then set out on a journey, forgetful of the proverb that 'footman and horseman can never be comrades.'

Of the truth of this they had a proof on the very first day of their travels for, chancing to come to a brook which they had to ford, the grasshopper jumped over, while the poor ant was carried away by the stream.

The grasshopper thought for a moment how he could save his drowning companionand then cried: 'Catch hold of something, and I shall run and get help.'

The bright idea struck him of applying to the sow for one of her bristles to which the ant could attach herself while he pulled her out of the water.

The sow answered: 'Brother grasshopper, you know the proverb, "hand washes hand" — for three days I have eaten nothing, and am I to let people pull bristles out of me for nothing? Feed me with acorns, and then you can have as many bristles as you like.'

The grasshopper hurried off to the oak and said: 'Oak, oak, give me acorns; I give the acorns to the sow; the sow gives me a bristle, and with the bristle I save my drowning comrade.'

The oak answered: 'Those thievish jays give me no rest; they pull off my acorns — keep them off.'

The grasshopper ran to the jays, and said: 'Jays! Leave the oak, and the oak will give me acorns; the acorns I give to the sow, the sow gives me a bristle, and with the bristle I save my drowning comrade.'

The jays answered: 'The kites pursue us; go and drive them off.'

The grasshopper ran to the kites, and said: 'Kites! Leave the jays, and the jays will leave the oak; the oak will give me acorns, the acorns I give to the sow, the sow gives me a bristle, and with the bristle I save my drowning comrade.'

The kites answered: 'We are hungry; bring us chickens.'

The grasshopper ran to the hen, and said: 'Hen, give me chickens. The chickens I shall give to the kites, the kites leave the jays, the jays leave the oak, the oak gives acorns, the acorns I give to the sow, the sow gives me a bristle, and with the bristle I save my drowning comrade.'

The hen replied: 'Feed me with millet.'

The grasshopper hastened to the barn: 'Barn, give me millet; the millet I give to the hen, the hen gives me chickens, the chickens I give to the kites, the kites leave the jays, the jays leave the oak, the oak gives acorns, the acorns I give to the sow, the sow gives me a bristle, and with the bristle I save my drowning comrade.'

The barn replied: 'The rats have the mastery over me; they gnaw me on every side — send them away.'

The grasshopper ran to the rats: 'Rats! Go away from the barn, and the barn will give me millet; the millet I give to the hen, the hen gives me chickens, the chickens I give to the kites, the kites leave the jays, the jays leave the oak, the oak gives acorns, the acorns I give to the sow, the sow gives me a bristle, and with the bristle I save my drowning friend.'

The rats replied: 'The cats give us no peace; send them away.'

The grasshopper went to the cats: 'Cats! Go away from the rats, and the rats will leave the barn, the barn will give millet, the millet I give to the hen, the hen gives me chickens, the chickens I give to the kites, the kites leave the jays, the jays leave the oak, the oak gives acorns, the acorns I give to the sow, the sow gives me a bristle, and with this bristle I shall save my drowning comrade.'

The cats replied: 'Feed us with milk.'

The grasshopper ran to the cow: 'Cow! Give me milk; the milk I shall give to the cats, the cats will leave the rats alone, the rats will leave the barn,' etc., etc.

The cow replied: 'Feed me with grass.'

The grasshopper applied to the earth, and said: 'O earth! Give me grass; the grass I shall give to the cow, the cow will give me milk, the milk I shall give to the cats, then the cats will leave the rats alone, and the rats will leave the barn, the barn will give me millet, the millet I shall give to the hen, the hen will give me chickens, the chickens I shall give to the kites, then the kites will leave the jays, and the jays will leave the oak, the oak will give me acorns, the acorns I shall give to the sow, the sow will give me a bristle, and with this bristle I shall save my drowning friend.'

The earth gave the grass . . . and finally the grasshopper obtained the bristle, and hastened with it to his drowning friend, but, to his astonishment, the ant was quite dead when he pulled him out.

This story teaches that help is only valuable when it is given in time, that the earth alone refuses not to yield her gifts to him that asks, and that all other things exist only by reciprocal services.


(1000 words)








No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments for Google accounts; you can also contact me at laura-gibbs@ou.edu.