From beneath the ground, across the leaves, up and down a wall, and into the cookie jar – the ants traveled, carrying crumbs of cookies back to their colony. Now and then, they would stop by and greet each other by brushing their antennas and then carried on with their merry hauling.
From far away – on the adjacent floor – the ant Antonino watched his fellow workers with a great deal of confusion and frustration.
Antonino had found a shortcut. By coming out of the edge of the colony, and passing through a crack on the wall, he could come out just beside the cookie jar. It would cut the length of traveling to less than half! His problem, however, was that the other ants did not want to take this route.
So he went to the Queen Ant.
“It’s a shortcut!” exclaimed Antonino. “We could transfer the food to our chamber much faster that way! We’re missing a lot by all the long traveling!”
“Perhaps, Antonino,” said the wise Queen, “it’s you who are missing some things. Do as you please, but let the other ants follow their own paths.”
Resigned, the little ant went to work, taking his solitary path. He wanted to prove that more food could be gathered by taking his way. Back and forth, he crawled alone. But, although he apparently gathered the largest share of food, it did not seem to impress anybody. In fact, it seemed as though it only made the other ants wary of him.
Finally, Antonino resolved to take a more assertive form of action.
“Fellow ants,” said Antonino atop a cookie crumb, “I have found a better way to transfer our –”
But he was not able to say more than that, for the cookie crumb he was standing on was suddenly moving. A group of ants had gathered to carry it together.
The first thing that Antonino noticed was that there was so much light in this new path. In front of him, the line of ants stretched as far as he could see.
They passed the large cookie crumb along the line – up along the wall, across the leaves, and back down through a tree trunk.
Here and there his fellow ants were always greeting each other.
“How’s the carrying?”
“Keep it up, good fellows!”
“Good day to be working, isn’t it?”
Antonino found this world incredibly marvelous. They were under a canopy of leaves, which trickled streaks of sunlight. Steady beams of light were like pillars growing out of the ground. The air was sweet with the smell of ripening lanzones, and rambutan, and atis and so many fruits. And the breeze brought forth all the music and news of the large, large world.
In the colony’s entrance, Antonino helped break the large cookie crumb that he rode in. Every time he bit off a piece with his pincers, an ant was already there to take the load from him. When the last pieces were broken, Antonino carried one himself to the colony’s food chamber.
Going back, he passed by the Queen. She was smiling pleasantly as she watched Antonino join the traffic of other ants.
“You’re not going to take your shortcut, then?” she called to him.
“No way, my Queen, ma’am!” he called back. “There’s a big world to see out there, and I have quite a long, long way to go!”
And Antonino crawled with the other ants out into the sunlight.