Last week, we left poor Arnie trapped in the web of a very scary, large, hairy spider – it looks like there’s no way out for Arnie! Find out what happens next!
Woosh! There was a swift rush of air and he felt himself being lifted upwards, higher and higher. Gasping, he looked down to see the tops of the forest trees disappearing beneath him – he was flying! But how on earth…? Looking around, he realised that he was suspended underneath a small bird – he was dangling from what remained of the threads from the spider’s web! Peering closer, he realised that the bird must have scooped up the spider, web and all (seeing it as a tasty snack -eww!) and Arnie had got tangled up and was coming along for the ride!
Whilst he felt very grateful to the bird for unknowingly rescuing him, he soon realised that it wouldn’t take long for it to spot him and add him to its dinner menu! But what was he to do? How could he escape? He was far too high in the sky – if he jumped now he would never survive!
Luckily, the bird was beginning to descend, heading for its nest in a nearby tree. As soon as the tree tops came up closer, hoping for the best, Arnie launched himself into the air and went hurtling off – down, down, down, he tumbled – this was going to hurt, he thought! Closing his eyes and bracing himself for impact, he was most surprised not to feel the hard leaves and branches he was expecting, but soft, warm, fluffiness instead! Shakily, he opened his eyes to find himself in a dense carpet of fur!
“Hey there, welcome aboard!” greeted a small yellow bug.
“Oh…hi,” stammered Arnie, “erm, where am I exactly?” he asked, somewhat dazed.
The bug tittered, “you’re on Sadie of course!”
“Sadie? Who’s Sadie?” asked Arnie.
“Who’s Sadie indeed! Why, she’s a sloth of course!” quipped the bug.
Arnie looked puzzled, “what’s a sloth?” he asked.
“Honestly! And there was me thinking ants were supposed to be smart!” tutted the bug. “Sloths – you know – hang upside down in the trees, very slow moving, sleep a lot, very laid back, have a wonderful coat full of critters like me!” the bug informed him, adding, “I’m Billy by the way.”
“I’m Arnie, nice to meet you,” Arnie greeted. “So, you live on a sloth?”
Billy nodded enthusiastically, “oh yes, it’s a wonderful place to live – all your food comes to you (he pointed to some mites crawling around on Sadie’s back leg) and you’re warm, dry and protected. You don’t even have to bother moving too much if you don’t want to – it’s great!”
“I’m glad you like it,” Arnie told him, amazed that anyone could live on a sloth!
“You should try it – you’re very welcome to stay,” Billy told him.
“That’s very kind of you, but it sounds to me like you’re very dependent on Sadie and I don’t want to be dependent on anyone.. I want to go it alone,” Arnie explained.
“But you’re an ant – ants are social – you live in colonies,” pointed out Billy.
“Not this ant,” Arnie said determinedly.
“Whyever not? Surely it’s much safer?” asked Billy, clearly puzzled.
“Because, I’m fed up with being bossed around and with working all day long and never getting a rest….”
“But don’t you miss your family?” asked Billy.
Arnie thought for a moment – it was true that so far, going it alone hadn’t gone too well for him and he had to admit, it was kind of lonely out here all by himself. Seeing him mulling things over, Billy said, “you know, no one can make it totally on their own…”
“Why not?” asked Arnie.
“Because we all need someone… I mean, look at me – and the mites and the tics and the flies and the moths here … we all need Sadie,” Billy explained.
“But what’s Sadie getting out of giving you all a free ride?” Arnie enquired.
“Well, we help to build up algae that makes her fur green and that helps camouflage her and keep her safe!” Billy explained.
“So, she helps you and you help her?” asked Arnie.
Billy nodded, “that’s right – it’s a good way of getting along ….”
“What do you mean?” asked Arnie.
“Well take those birds over there – they like to get you guys to run over them to pick off any annoying little critters – then you get a meal and they get a free grooming!” Billy told him.
Arnie nodded, “that’s true,” he admitted.
“Or how about that bee? It visits flowers to collect nectar and gets a lovely meal and the flowers get their pollen spread around by the bee!”
“So, what you’re saying is, we can all help each other?” Arnie asked.
“You got it!” laughed Billy, “and isn’t it much nicer that way?”
Arnie thought long and hard for a moment or two, “I guess it is,” he admitted, sighing, “I’ve been a very foolish ant… all I saw was the work we do – I forgot that we all do it to help each other…”
“Maybe you just needed a bit of space to see that for yourself,” Billy told him wisely, “so, are you ready to go back to your home?”
Arnie nodded, “but I’d better be making tracks if I want to get back before it gets dark,” he said dubiously, not looking forward to all the dangers the journey back might hold for an ant on his own.
“Oh, don’t worry about that! We can give you a ride, can’t we Sadie? Hold on tight!” giggled Billy, as Sadie began to slowly make her way along the tree branches.
Eventually, they reached Arnie’s home tree, just as the light was fading.
“Thanks for the lift guys!” he said. “Will I see you again?”
Billy smiled, “sure thing, we’ll be hanging around nearby ha ha!” he laughed. “Come and visit us when you feel like getting away from it all for a bit.”
Arnie thanked Billy and Sadie and hurried off to his nest, where his family were waiting for him anxiously – even Augusta looked pleased to see him! They all hugged him and told him how worried they’d been about him and how glad they were to have him safely back home. Feeling happy to be back, Arnie followed them down into the nest for a good night’s sleep.
After that, Arnie often visited his friends, Sadie and Billy and he never forgot – life is much happier, when we help each other out!
Did you enjoy Arnie’s story? Then why not check out what his pals are up to in our new little book – Brenda ‘n’ Buddies – out now!