They started digging, father beside son. Father smiled proudly, while son gathered up a large load of dirt, grunted, and shook under its weight.
"Don't get to much in a single load," explained father knocking some of the dirt from son's load, "only what you can manage. Take it over and dump it, then return for more. Before you know it, we'll have a beautiful home." Son obeyed. Soon the two workers were in a successful routine.
"About time to eat," said father after a while, "Mom brought some potato pieces." He revealed two white objects.
"Sounds good, dad. Working sure makes me hungry."
"Me, too," said father while tossing one of the pieces to his son and taking a bite from the other.
Before they could proceed, a familiar screech passed through the work area. Father and son turned to see the screen door of a distant house opening. The several other workers had also heard and seen the door, and appeared well aware of what would soon happen. Then, everyone started moving as if readying themselves for some previously planned effort.
"Son," said father with a slight tremor in his voice, "You know what to do?"
"Yes, sir. Exactly what we've been practicing."
"That a boy. Take your spot. We'll teach him a lesson he'll never forget." Father and son followed the example of the group who had rushed nearer toward the house, then hid behind or under whatever object was nearest them. Father and son found a spot together.
"He'll learn to respect our property, right dad?"
"That's right, son. After today, he'll never destroy it again."
"Is he coming? Is he coming?" inquired son nervously but quietly.
"Shhh. Listen," whispered father.
The ground shook as a crunching noise drew closer and closer, louder and louder. Father and son were poised to jump out from their concealment.
"Son, he's coming our way! He's coming our way! Do just as we practiced, son. Wait for my signal. Do just as we practiced, and do it quick. I'll meet you back at our digging area when its over."
"Yes, sir. On and off, right dad? On and off."
"Exactly. Here he comes. Here he comes. Wait . . .wait . . . wait . . . Now!"
Quick as possible, both sprang out, stabbed the arriver on his naked foot, and dashed away. They were soon heading back to their digging area, wondering if the plan had worked, and preparing for a second effort. They turned to see the foot fleeing back toward the house, its owner squealing. Cheers erupted throughout the work area.
"He won't do that again, right dad? We gave him quite a start!" shouted son.
Dad watched as the little boy with the sore foot disappeared into the house, the door screeching behind him. "Quite a start indeed, son, quite a start indeed."
The ants finished their meal, and went back to work.
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