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Otando prairie. The top is from twelve to eighteen inches in diameter, and the column about five inches, the total height is from ten inches to fifteen inches. After the grass has been burnt they present a most extraordinary appearance; near Máyolo they are met with al. most at every step. They are not all uniformly built, as they appear at a distance, but differ in the roundness or sharpness of their summits. I opened a great number of these, and followed up my researches, day after day, into the habits of their inhabitants. These, and all similar edifices, are built to protect the white ants against the inclemencies of the weather and against their enemies, which are very numerous, and include many predacious kinds of fellow ants.
The mushroom-shaped hive is not so firmly built in the ground but that it can be knocked down by a well planted kick. It is built of a kind of mortar after being digested in the sto achs of the ants. When felled, the base of the pillar is found to have rested on the ground, leaving a circular hollow, in the middle of which is a ball of earth full of cells, which enters the centre of the base of the pillar, and the cells are eagerly defended by a multitude of the soldier class of ants, which I took to be males, all striving to bite the intruder with their pincer-like jaws. On breaking open the ball, which, when handled, divided itself into three parts, I always found it full of young white ants, in different stages of growth, and also of eggs. The young were of a milky-white colour, while the adults were yellowish, with a tinge of grey when the abdomen is full of earth. Besides these young ants, there were a great many full grown individuals, whom I took to be females, and who appeared to be the workers or labourers described by entomologists. These have not elongated nippers, like the soldiers, but have very bulky abdomens, and they are inoffensive. Besides these soldiers and workers, I always saw, whenever I broke a hive, a very much larger specimen than the other two, which came in from the inner galleries, looked round and went away again. These large ants were very few in number. There were therefore three distinct set of in.
dividuals. To these large ones I shall give the name of head men, or chiefs.
In order to examine the rest of the structure, I often took an axe, and broke it into several pieces; but the material was so hard that it required several blows before I succeeded. I tried then to make out the structure of the chambers and galleries of which the interiorwas composed. But before I could do this, I was somewhat perplexed at discovering that there was another distinct species of white ant mixed up with the proper architects of the edifice. The soldiers of this other species were much smaller and more slender; and as I broke the pieces, these two kinds fell to fighting one another. On close inspection, I found that these slender fellows came out of cells composed of yellow earth, whilst the others inhabited cells of black earth. The yellow colour was due to a coating of some foreign substance on the walls of the cell. The chambers inhabited by the slender species did not communicate with those peopled by the lords of the manor; they seemed rather to be inserted into the vacant spaces, or partition walls, between the other cells. No doubt they had intruded themselves after the building had been finished, from under the ground. In the fight the larger kind showed no mercy to the smaller. It was quite marvellous to witness the fury with which the soldiers of the one kind seized the bodies of the others with their powerful pincer jaws, and carried them away into their own chambers. The soldiers of the slender kind also possessed long pincer-like jaws; and I noticed in one instance, when a worker of the larger kind had seized a small worker who was in her last struggle for life, that one of these slender soldiers flew to the rescue, and snapping into the soft abdomen of the assailant twice its size, let out its contents. The slender one then fell from the pincers that had gripped her, but life was extinct. The rescuer came, examined the body, and seeing that she was dead, went away and disappeared. If she had been only wounded, she would probably have been carried away just as the young are taken off. I may here remark, that with the exception of the head, the body of the termites
is exceedingly soft. On examining the structure of the soldiers, it is evident that their powerful pincer jaws are made for wounding and piercing, while the structure of the workers show that their pincers are made for the purposes of labour. Nothing astonished me more than this impetuous attack; my attention was intense on this deadly combat. The weaker species knew the vulnerable point of his formidable enemy who was too busy to protect himself. A further examination showed me that the mushroom-like cap of the whole edifice was composed of both black and yellow cells. This curious mixture of two species, each building its own cells and yet contributing to form an entire and symmetrical edifice, filled me with astonishment. The wonder did not cease here; for in some of the mushroom-like heads there was still a third kind quite distinct from the other two, not a white ant.
The mushroom nests are built very rapidly; but when finished they last in all probability many years. The ants work at them only at night, and shut out all the apertures from the external air when daylight comes; for the white ant abhors daylight, and when they migrate from an old building to commence the erection of a new one, they come from under the ground. Sometimes they add to their structures by building one mushroom head above another. I have seen as many as four, one on the top of the other. The new structures are built when the colony increases; new cells must be found for new comers. The shelter is quite rainproof.
I passed hours in watching the tiny builders at work, and their daily labours in the cells, which I was enabled to do by laying open some of their cells, and then observing what went on after all was quiet. So soon as the cells are broken, a few head men or chiefs are seen; each one moves his head all round the aperture and then disappears into the dark galleries, apparently without leaving anything. Then the soldiers come; these do no work, but there must be some intention in their movements; they no doubt were on guard to protect the workers : I was never able, even with my magnifying glass, to seo them do anything. The workers then come forward, and
each of them ejects a quantity of liquid mud into the aperture, and finally walls it up. They come one after the other, and all of them leave their contributions. This is done first in a row, from one end of the aperture to another, then each ejection is put on the top of the other, with a precision that would do honour to a bricklayer or a stonemason. The question to me was to know if the ants went away to eat more earth and came again. How much would I have given to be able to see into the dark recesses of the chambers ; but I do not see how this will ever be done. The apertures of the cells were only closed during the day, and during the following night the part of the structure which I had demolished was rebuilt in its original shape. Some of them brought very small grains of sand, or minute pebbles, and deposited them in the mud. When demolishing their shelter, I saw several cells filled with these little pebbles which I also collected and preserved. Soon after, others came and closed up
the cell. The earth which they eat, can be seen shining through the thin skins of their bodies; but I was unable to see where it was stored in the interior of the edifice. The mud is mixed with gluey matter through the digestion when it is ejected, and with this material the little creatures are enabled to build up the thin, tough walls which form their cells, and, in course of time, the firm and solid structure of the entire nest. Sun and rain are equally fatal to the white ants; thus it is necessary that they should build a hive impervious to light, heat, and rain. I have put white ants in the sun, and they were shortly afterwards killed by its heat. Í thought each cell was perhaps inhabited only by one ant; but the great number I saw in each mushroom-like edifice made it quite improbable that it should be so.
EXERCISE.-36. PARSING, ETC. 1. Write out the clauses in each sentence in the first paragraph, show how they are joined together, and say whether the sentences are simple, complex, or compound.
2. Parse (with reasons) the following words on the first page:-Let, begin, that, like, mushrooms, Otando, after, near, with, as, up, day, not, so, but, that, down, after, when, felled, full, which, soldier, males, on, 3. What are the roots of :-gigantic, diameter, uniform, inclemencies?
THE PICKET OF THE POTOMAC.
of-fi-cer [L. officium, duty), a soldier commissioned to perform any particular duty. for-est (It. foresta), land overgrown with trees. sentry (L. sentio, to perceive), a centinel, a soldier set to guard any place 1rom surprise. ten-der (L. tener, tender), soft, gentle. All quiet along the Potòmac they say,
Except here and there a stray picket
Where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming!
Keep watch while the army is sleeping.
As he tramps from the rock to the fountain,
For their mother—may Heaven defend her!
The night when the love yet unspoken