ANTS, AMPHISBAENAS, AND BASILISKS
In the far-off country ruled by Prester John many wonders were to be seen, and among them hills of gold, 'kept by ants full diligently.' Now anybody who has studied the history of ants knows that there is no end to their ingenuity and cleverness; but they are not usually found as guardians of gold or precious stones. However,, these ants were not at all like the little brown creatures we are accustomed to see, but as big as dogs, and very savage, thinking nothing of eating a man, and gobbling him up in one mouthful. So the people of the country found that if they wanted the gold they would have to obtain it by a trick, and began to watch and plan how to get the better of the careful ants.
Their chance came in the great heat of summer, as the ants used sometimes to fall asleep in the middle of the day. Then the people who had spies on the watch, day and night, collected hastily all the camels, dromedaries, horses and asses they could find, and loaded them with gold, and were off and out of danger before the ants, w7ho were heavy sleepers, woke up. This did very well so long as the weather was hot, but when it grew cooler the ants worked hard all day, melting the gold in the fire ; and then some other stratagem had to be thought of. One thing after another was proposed, but was rejected as being unpractical, till at last a man, who was cleverer than the rest, hit upon a way of turning a well-known