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The orphans' friend. volume (Oxford, N.C.) 1875-1895, September 08, 1875, Image 1

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VOLUJIE I. OXFORD, N. C., AVEDNKSDAY, SEPTEMBPRl 8, 1875, NUMBER 3G. the IH.4IIE1I or THE ANTS. “You talk of tlie inarcli of an army, oh I Well, the marelifrom Metz to Paris and the Khiva ox- jiedition were great feats in their way ; but I’ve seen a march in my time that no army on earth could equal, though it had ten Napoleons at its head.” “ You mean locusts ?, 'Well, they keep their ranks well, as I’ve had occasion to seo out in the East” “They do, indeed ; but I don’t mean locusts.” “Wild fowl, then I A flight of them passed mo one night on the Don, just after sunset, that took ten minutes to pass, and not a single flaw in the whole column.” “Aye, I can quite believe that; but I don’t mean them either.” “What then 1” “I ain going to tell you. Y”ou know Praia Vermelha, four miles from Rio de Janeiro ? Well, I had a house there a good nianj’ years ago, whicli had belonged to a Portuguese before-1 got it, and it was naturallv as dirty as ant- house could well be. Every cor ner and cranny was thick with dust, and tho whole place from top to bottom, was a regular pub lic asylum for cockroaches, fciran- tulas, and other things that needn’t bo mentioned. My first idea, of course, was to give it a thorough cleaning uj) as soo;. as possible, but it was fated that tlic cleaning Uj) should be done for me, in a way that I little dreamed of. 1 was sauntering abotit my garden one morning before going into the city, waiting my horse to be brought round (for in those days tlie tramway from the town to I’raia Vermelha, round Bota Fogo Bay, wasn’t made or thought of) wlien, all of a suddeti, two or tliree of my niggers, who were at worli ii little way off, came scampering towards me, shouting, ‘As f'ormi- gas I as formigas ! (the ants ! tho ants!) I ran to the spot, and there I did see a sight. The whole bed on which they had been at work was literally cree])- ing with black ants, which were pouring by thousands through a crevice in the foot of the wall; and when I looked over into the lane, there was the long black lino traced out against the white dusty road as far as I could see. Tho breadth of the column, as I measured it later on, was good ten indies; as for the length, you’ll hear about that by-and-by. “Well, what is to be done ? The creatures were coming on as fast as they could go, and evi dently towards the house. Plain ly there was no time to be lost; so I got a broom and went to ■work with a will. Every stroke swept them away by thousands, but I might as well have tried to stem Niagara with a mop. The moment the column was broken, the masses in the rear scattered themselves like skirmishers, took up the trail of the vanguard in a moment, and restored me line so quickly that it seemed as if I had been scooping up a running brook. Plainly there was nothing to be done that way ; so I shouted to Juanita, the mulatto cook, to bring me a kettle of boiling water. “And then began a massacre if you like. Every splash, litter ed the ground with their carcass es for yards round, .and I began to hojje that I had chocked them at last. Not a bit of it. The rear rank scrambled over tlie corpses of their comrades, and came on over the scalded ground, through steam and heat and all, like the forlorn hope at Badajoz. I was just giving them the last drop from my kettle and wonder ing ryliat on earth to do next, when a shout from behind made mo look up, and there was old Senor Bonito, my next-door neighbor, leaning over the gate. “What are yon doing, senor?” cried he, opening the gate and coming in , ‘you’re killing yonr best friends. Tliis is what wo call a bencao (blessing.)’ “ ‘A nice sort of blessing it is !’ retorted I, indignantly. ‘Do you think that I shall bo particularlj- blest if these creatures get iii and eat all my furniture V “ ‘But it’s hot tho furniture that they want; they won’t hurt the house a bit. What they’re after is the beetles and tarantulas and their eggs, which are tho favorite food of tho black ant. Yon see when a house gets dirt_y, and full of verniin, the ants march in and make a clean sweep of them, like policemen hunting the vagabonds out of town, .'.'ud that’s why we call it a ‘blessing.’ “ ‘Oh ! .said I, besinning to un derstand at last. ‘Tlien tliis in vasion is a sort of amateur house- cleaning, eh ?’ ,, . “‘Just so; and a veiy tho rough one it will bo. When you come homo to-night you won’t find a single beetle or tarantula in the whole house.’ “ ‘And where on earth does all this lot come from ?’ “ ‘There,’ said the Brazilian, pointing to the summit of the Corcovado (Hunchback), which stood against the sky like a great black steeple, far away at the end of tho valley.’ “ ‘What!’ cried I, starting, ‘do you mean to tell me that this swarm comes from the top of that mountain ?’ “ ‘Every inch of tlie way,’ an swered my friend, decisively; ‘and not a single break in the whole column. I’ll be bound. You’ll see bigger swarms, than that, though, if you remain here a year or two.’ “I opened my eyes, as well I might, for this was a new thing altogether. From the spot where we were standing to tjie top of the Corcovado must have been two good miles at least, and most likely a great deal more; so, if you calculate how many ants there are in a breadth of ten inches, and multiply that by a length of two miles, or upwards, you’ll have some idea what a march it was. “ ‘Come in and watch them at work,’ said the Brazilian, taking me by the arm. ‘It’s a sight well worth seeing, I can tell you.’ “It was indeed. Juanita and the two niggers, who were well accustomed to these domiciliary visits, had thrown open all the doors, and the whole house was creeping with ants from top to bottom. If the famous picture of the “Persecution of the Jews un der Torquemada’ had been paint ed in those dav-s, I should have thong’nt of it at once, thongli I do-aht whether the alguazils of Toledo ever made half such quick work of it as my new visitors. Every moment some fresh bat talion filed off from the great col umn, plunged into an untouched comer or crevice,, and ransacked it thoroughly, coming back im mediately, as if for fresli orders, and all as regularly and orderly as soldiers on jjarade. And then to seo tlie scamper of tho beetles, and cockroaches, and tarantulas, and all tho rest; and every now and then one of them would be overtaken by the pursuing host, and ovci’he would goon his back, with hundreds of merciless jaws at work upon him at once. Here' and there in a corner j'ou could see some old vetran, too stiff or too hopeless for escape, suilenh' awaiting his doom, like a Roman senator. It was tlio march of At- tila and his Huns over again. “ ‘They -won’t leave a single corner nnsearched,’ said Senor Bonito, who seemed to look upon their performance as complacent ly a.s if they all belonged to him, and !iad come there at his espec ial invitation. ‘See tliere, that gang have scented some game up yonder-!’ As he spoke a long line of ants darted up tlie mosquito-curtain of a bed near which tvo -n oro stand ing, and tho next moment floj) do^'v'n came a hugli tarantula, big enough to smash a hundred of them witli his more weight. But the giant haikno cltance. He had iiardly touched the ground when they were upon him from every side like a pack of wolves, and in less time than it takes to tell it, he w-as torn limb from limb, and hundreds of the little imps were towing off' his dismembered claws in every direction. “ ‘You’ll just seo the same thing at Paramaribo, in Surinam, if you go there,’ said the Brazilian, nod ding his head appro vinglj'. ‘There’s a species tliere which the people call ‘Ants of Visitation,’ because they only come once in two or three years ; but when they do come, they make a clean sweep of the whole settlement, just as they’re doing here. Tho people do not mind their coming, and throw open the houses to them, and take the greatest care not to molest them—which, indeed, is just as well, for if any one dis turbs them, they fall upon him without mercy, and their bite will draw blood even through a stocking.’ “ ‘They must be larger than these, tlien, surely I’ “ ‘They are, rather ; though even these will bite clean through a canvas shoo. I’ve seen them do it, myself. As for their nests. I’ve seen ant-hills in Surinam more than six feet high, and at least a hundi'ed feet round.’ “Just at that moment (rather to my chagrin, for I was begin ning to get really interested in watching the progress of tho de- %-astation) one of iuy blacks came to say that my horse was at the gate, and away I went to the city. When I came back, about five in the evening, there was not an ant to be seen; the invading armies had vanished as suddenly as they came. The only token of their passage' was tlie shell of a cackroach, or tho li’ard end Of a tarantula’s claw,' lying hero and tliere about the floor,” “They tliut go down to the sea in ships .... see His wonders in the deep.” Much more forci bly may this be said of those who go down under the sea. A diver here narrates a curious adventure he had with a shark at the bottom of the' ocean; “I was down on a nasty rock bottom. A man never ibels corn- comfortable on them; lie can’t tell what big creature may be liiding under the huge quater- deck ; e i leaves which grow there. The first part of the time I was visited by a porcupine fish, which kept sticking its quills up and bobbing in front of my helmet. Soon after I saw a big shadow fall across me, and looking up tliere was an infernal sliark Jihiy- ing about my tubing. It makes you feel chilly in the back when they’re about. lie came down to me slick as I looked up. I made at Iiim and ho sheared off. For an hour ho worked at it, till I could stand it no longer. If you can keep your head lev el it’s all right, and you’re pretty- safe if they^’ro not on you sharp. This ugly brute was twenty feet long, 1 should think, for when I lay down all my lengtli on the bottom be stretched a considera ble way ahead of mo, and I conlJ see him beyond my feet. Tlien I waited. They^ must turn over to bite, and iny laying down bothered liin'i. Ho sivam over me tlirce or four times, and then skulked oft’ to a big thicket of sea-woed to consid er. 1 knew he’d come back when he’d settled his mind. It seemed a long time waiting for bin. At last he came viciously over me, but, like the time before, too far from my- arms. The next time I had my chance and ripped liim with my knife as neatly as I could. A shark always remembers he’s got business somewhere else when he’s cut, so off this fellow goes. It is a curious thing, too, tliat all the sharks about will follow in tho trail lie leaves. I got on my- hands and knees and as he swam off I noticed four shadows slip after liim, I saw no more that time. They did not like my company. Mesmebizino a Rcostek.—An experiment which it may amuse the boys to repeat has been d-3s- cribod by sevtral correspondents t-o a popular science journal. Place a cock upon a table or board, and, holding his wings close down his sides, let a second person bend down his head until his beak touches the board on which he lies, and draw a line of wliite chalk straight out from the point of liis beak. This done the bird may be released from all restraint, and he will not stir so much as a feather. “Nay, fur ther,” writes one “you may clap y'our hands or shout close to him, without arousing him from his lethargy', from which, however, ho will uldm.ately recover.” An other oxpei-imonter writes; “I have seen a row of fowls render ed quite senseless by drav/ing a chaDc-lino (beginning- at the top of the beak) slowly across a ta ble, and I have, myself, vi - fully''perform ej “So you have flidslied your studies at the Befiiiimry ? 1 was much jjleased with tlie closii g exorci.-e-i. Tho niitlior of that poem —Miss AVhite, I think you called her-"bids fair to become known as a poet,” “We think tlie authoress will, become celebrated as a poetess,” remarked the j'Otmg lady, pertly, with n marked emphasis on two words of the sentence. ‘•Oil I—ah !” replied tho rid gentleman, looking tlioughtfiilly over his spectacles at tlie young lady'. “i Iiear her sister was quite an actress, and under Miss Hosmer’s instructions will un doubtedly become quite a sciilp- toress.” TIic V'oung lady appeared irri fated. “The seminary,” continued the old gentleman, wit’i imperturai le gravity, “is foi-tunato in liavng an efficient board of manageress es. From the jrresidentress down to the humblest teacheress un. - sual talent is shown. There ii Miss Harper, wlio .as a cliemistres* is unequaled, and Mrs. Kuowhs has ; l. cady a reput-.tiou as an astronoineress. And in the de partment of music few can equal Miss Kellogg as a” The young lady did not appear to like tho chair she was sitting on. She took tlie sofa at tho other end f tl e room. “Yes,” continued tho old gen tleman, as if talking to himself, “those White sisters are very talented. Mary', I understanJ, has turned her attention to paint ing and the drama, and will sure ly become famous as a painter ess, and oven as lecturess.” A loud slamming of the door caused the old gentleman to look up, and the criticess and gram- marianess was gone.—Selected. A Wise Child.—While we are in the dining-room we must not forget a little miss of five or six summers, who unconsciously per petrated one of the best jokes of the season. Wine was being passed around, and she invited to take some but declined. “Why do you not take wine with your dinner, Minnie 1” asked a gentleman who sat near her. “Tauae I doesn’t like it.” “But take a little then, my child, for your stomach’s sake,” he urged. “I ain’t dot no tommik's ache !” indignantly responded the little miss in the most emphatic man ner. As both question and an swer were distinctly hegrd by those around, everyone burst in to laughter, which so frightened the little maid that she cried. Wliicli Fit'll} ‘Tf you do not eloso that win dow, waiter, I shall die of the draught I” exclaimed a lady' in tho dining room of a hotel, “If you do close that window', waiter, I shall die of tho hear!” said another stouter lady at tlio same table. The waiter v,'a.» at h-' to ■

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