Patient started on her way. The dirt was nice and wet, which made it easy for her to slip along the path. Patient was so happy, she made up a ‘rainy day’ song to hum as she went.
She stopped, surprised.
“Patient, is that you?” a voice called from over a hedge of grass.
“Oh, I’m so glad to find you!” Edward smiled. His antennae kept twitching the whole time he talked, and his legs did a little dance. Edward liked to keep moving, even when he was standing still. “Can you come with me to the Colony? We need your help!”
Patient thought a minute. The Colony where Edward lived was a whole fallen tree branch past the daisy. If she went with him, she might be gone for a long time. Then she thought about Izzy, and her big plan for the day. Edward danced around her, and back again, while he waited for an answer.
“Of course I will help you, if I can,” answered Patient at last.
“Thank you, thank you!” said Edward. “I knew you would come!”
So they started on their way. Edward could move a lot faster than Patient, but that didn’t bother either of them. He would run ahead, and then run back to tell Patient everything he saw on the path. Each time he returned, he told Patient a little more about the problem at the Colony.
Edward began by explaining about the Big Meeting at the Colony, where the ants decided they were tired of living in the dark, and wanted to build a house above ground instead. Then Edward ran ahead. While he was gone, Patient looked up at the soft clouds, and hummed her rainy day song to herself.
Edward dashed back. “There’s a mulberry just past this curve. We’ll have to go around it. So, the whole Colony has been working on our new house. This morning it was finished, and we all moved in.”
“How exciting!” Patient said. She was very curious about what happened next, but Edward had already raced away.
When he returned, he said, “We’re almost at the daisy. Would you like to stop and rest now?”
That sounded wonderful to Patient, who was very hungry. She ate two whole petals and a leaf! Then, off they went again.
Patient stopped to say good afternoon to a blue butterfly, who was in too much of a hurry to answer, and flew away. When Patient finally caught up with Edward, the ladybug was just flying away home. They could hear shouts and calls coming from ahead.
“Oh my goodness,” said Edward. “We’re already here, and I still didn’t tell you our problem! Well, now you’ll see for yourself.”
Together, they went into the clearing. Patient could see a gray mound with tall, smooth walls. Coming in and out of a small door was a line of ants, each of them holding the top of an acorn shell. Whenever the sun broke through the clouds for a moment, the ants would lift their acorns to the sun, and then hurry back into the house again.
Edward sighed. “It is a beautiful house.” He looked up again at those gray walls. “But we wanted to move above ground so we could have light where we live, and everything inside is still dark!” Edward looked sadly at Patient. “We are trying to catch the light outside and bring it in, but it’s still dark in our house all the time.”
“That is a problem,” Patient agreed. She looked for a long time at the ants’ new home, at the long line of workers rushing back and forth, and at their acorn shells lifted to the sky. “Edward,” she said at last, “I think your new home is not done yet.”
“What do you mean?” Edward looked puzzled. “It has everything our old anthill had, except it’s on top of the ground, not under.”
“Exactly!” Patient smiled. “And homes on top of the ground need windows!”
“What are windows?” asked Edward.
“Windows are holes that you cut into walls to let the light come in,” Patient explained.
Edward’s eyes brightened. His antennae wiggled all around. “What a great idea!” he exclaimed. “Patient, you are a very smart snail!”
Edward told the ants all about windows, and when they opened the first one in their new house, everyone cheered and threw acorn tops into the air to celebrate. Patient’s idea had worked! Then all the ants threw a real house-warming party, and Patient was the guest of honor. They gave her a sweet clover flower to eat, which was one of her favorite treats.
All three friends were surprised to see each other, and they played in the puddle together for a long time. At last, it really was almost time for bed. Izzy said goodnight, and started inching sleepily to her hole. Edward yawned, and started walking back to his new home with beautiful windows to look out of at night.
And Patient, who was already home wherever she went, curled happily into her shell at the edge of the mud puddle. This really had been a wonderful, busy day!
Story by Virginia Smith