Jonathan Learns To Steer

Jonathan Learns To Steer
Chapter 4 from the story
Jonathan the Fastest Snail in the Meadow
A children’s fable by Jan Luthman

They found Andy doing what he always seemed to be doing, working. Bustling around building another ant nest in one of the sunny corners of the meadow.

Jonathan craned his neck and stared up at Andy’s latest and greatest hill of twigs and leaves, towering above them: it seemed to reach the sky.

Andy The Ant
And the Ant

“Hi Andy,” Robbit yelled up to the top of the pile of twigs.

Andy carried on doing what he was doing, dragging a large twig up to the top of his hill.

“Hi Andy,” Robbit called again.

“Hi Robbit,” Andy called back out of the corner of his mouth, his teeth clenched on his precious twig, “I’m busy.”

“I can see that,” Said Robbit, “But could we ask you something?”

“Sure, anything for you, old friend,” Andy called back, his mouth full of stick, “What’s on your mind?”

“We were wondering,” Robbit began, “if you could steer Jonathan.”

“If I could do what?” Andy’s mouth dropped open in amazement, and his twig fell out, tumbling down the hill.

“Steer Jonathan,” Said Robbit.

Andy stood at the top of his heap, staring in dismay as his twig slithered and slipped all the way to the bottom.

“Steer Jonathan?” He called in disbelief, “Me, steer a snail?”

Andy bustled back down his hill, grabbed his stick and bustled furiously back up again.

“You crazy or something?” He called out behind him, “You think I’ve got time to fall asleep on the back of a dozy snail?”

Jonathan bristled indignantly

“I’m not dozy,” He declared, “You just watch me.”

Andy pretended to yawn.

” OK, snail,” He challenged, “I’m watching: keep me awake.”

Furious, Jonathan puffed out hs chest and got ready to run.


With a noise rather like a little jet plane taking off, Jonathan screeched off across the meadow and out of sight. All that could be seen was the tips of the long grass trembling as he sped along the ground underneath like a tiny, invisible express train.

“Wow!” Exclaimed Andy from the top of his hill.

They watched, fascinated, as Jonathan’s trail curved round in the distance and began to head back towards them.

“Oh, oh,” Said Robbit.

“Jump, Ant!” Yelled Old Mrs Spider.

But it was too late. There was a huge crunch and Andy’s carefully built pile of twigs and little sticks exploded in a cloud of dust. Andy came hurtling down and landed at Jonathan’s feet.

“Ooooph!” He gasped.

“Hah!” Said Jonathan triumphantly, “You still awake?”

Andy picked himself up, brushing off bits of twigs and dried leaves.

“Jeewhizz,” He exclaimed, trying to lift a corner of Jonathan’s shell, “What you got under there, snail, rockets?”

Old Mrs Spider clatters forwards.

“There’s nothing under there, ant,” She told him, “Except spider juice.”

“Spider juice?” Andy looked disbelieving, “What’s that?”

“Secret,” Said Old Mrs Spider firmly.

“Works, though, doesn’t it,” Said Jonathan proudly.

Andy stroked his chin thoughtfully.

“And you want me to steer this thing?” He asked Robbit, pointing at Jonathan, “Why?”

Robbit explained the whole story: Andy listened carefully.

“H’mmm,” He Said when Robbit had finished, “Never did like the beetle boys; in fact, nobody I know likes them: nasty creatures. Would be nice to chase them off the meadow.”

“Does that mean you’ll do it?”

“Why not,” Andy climbed up on the front of Jonathan’s shell, “Never driven a racing snail before. Might be fun.”

Jonathan was itching to get going.

“Come on,” He said impatiently, “We’ve got to get practising.”

Robbit and Old Mrs Spider decided they would leave Jonathan and Andy to practise in peace, and set off home across the meadow. Andy waved to them from his perch on Jonathan`s shell, then lent forward.

“OK, my friend,” He whispered in Jonathan’s ear, “Here’s what we’re going to do.”

Go to Chapter 5 of this story of
Jonathan, the Fastest Snail in the Meadow
Jonathan Chases the Beetle Boys