The Ant-Eater

The Ant-Eater
by Roald Dahl
Some wealthy folks from U.S.A.,
Who lived near San Francisco Bay,
Possessed an only child called Roy,
A plump and unattractive boy –
Half-baked, half-witted and half-boiled,
But worst of all, most dreadfully spoiled.
Whatever Roy desired each day,
His father bought him right away –
Toy motorcars, electric trains,
The latest model aeroplanes,
A colour television-set,
A saxophone, a clarinet,
Expensive teddy-bears that talked,
And animals that walked and squawked.
That house contained sufficient toys
To thrill a half a million boys.
(As well as this, young Roy would choose,
Two pairs a week of brand-new shoes.)
And now he stood there shouting, “What
“On earth is there I haven’t got?
“How hard to think of something new!
“The choices are extremely few!”
Then added, as he scratched his ear,
“Hold it! I’ve got a good idea!
“I think the next thing I must get
“Should be a most peculiar pet –
“The kind that no one else has got –
“A giant ANT-EATER! Why not?”
As soon as father heard the news,
He quickly wrote to all the zoos.
“Dear Sirs,” he said, “My dear keepers,
“Do any of you have ant-eaters?”
They answered by return of mail.
“Our ant-eaters are not for sale.”
Undaunted, Roy’s fond parent hurled
More messages across the world.
He said, “I’ll pay you through the nose
“If you can get me one of those.”
At last he found an Indian gent
(He lived near Delhi, in a tent),
Who said that he would sacrifice
His pet for an enormous price
(The price demanded, if you please,
Was fifty thousand gold rupees).
The ant-eater arrived half-dead.
It looked at Roy and softly said,
“I’m famished. Do you think you could
“Please give me just a little food?
“A crust of bread, a bit of meat?
“I haven’t had anything to eat
“In all the time I was at sea,
“For nobody looked after me,”
Roy shouted, “No! No bread or meat!
“Go find some ants! They’re what you eat!”
The starving creature crawled away.
It searched the garden night and day,
It hunted every inch of ground,
But not one single ant it found,
“Please give me food!” the creature cried.
“Go find an ant!” the boy replied.
By chance, upon that very day,
Roy’s father’s sister came to stay –
A foul old hag of eighty-three
Whose name, it seems, was Dorothy.
She said to Roy, “Come let us sit
“Out in the sun and talk a bit,”
Roy said, “I don’t believe you’ve met
“My new and most unusual pet?”
He pointed down among the stones
Where something lay, all skin and bones.
“Ant-eater!” He yelled. “Don’t lie there yawning!
“This is my ant! Come say good-morning!”
(Some people in the U.S.A.
Have trouble with the words they say.
However hard they try, they can’t
Pronounce simple words like AUNT.
Instead of AUNT, they call it ANT,
Instead of CAN’T, they call it KANT.)
Roy yelled, “Come here, you so and so!
“My ant would like to say hello!”
Slowly, the creature raised its head.
“D’you mean that that’s an ant?” it said.
“Of course!” cried Roy. “Ant Dorothy!
“This ant is over eighty-three.”
The creature smiled. Its tummy rumbled.
It licked its starving lips and mumbled,
“A giant ant! By gosh, a winner!
“At last I’ll get a decent dinner!
“No matter if it’s eighty-three.
“If that’s an ant, then it’s for me!”
Then, taking very careful aim,
It pounced upon the startled dame.
It grabbed her firmly by the hair
And ate her up right then and there,
Murmuring as it chewed the feet,
“The largest ant I’ll ever eat.”
Meanwhile, our hero Roy had sped
In terror to the potting-shed.
And tried to make himself obscure
Behind a pile of horse-manure.
But ant-eater came sneaking in
(Already it was much less thin)
And said to Roy, “You little squirt,
“I think I’ll have you for dessert.”

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