The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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STORIES ABOUT ANTS                      83
have fixed the day of their ' flitting,' they begin probably to ensure the consent of the slaves by violently seizing them, and rolling them into a ball, and then grasping them firmly they set off towards the summer quarters at full gallop, if an ant can be said to gallop. The master ant is in a great hurry to get rid of his living burden ; he goes straight ahead in spite of all obstacles, avoiding all in­terruptions and delays, and as soon as he arrives at the summer ant-heap, plunges in, deposits the slave all breathless and terrified from his forced journey, and sets off back for another.
Darwin, who closely studied the migrations of the ant, says that they differ in their means of transport: one sort is carried by the slaves; the other, our friend the red ant, scientifically called ' formica sanguinea,' carries his property carefully in his mouth. It seems strange to us that the master should carry the slave, but no stranger than it would appear to the ants if they should begin to study our habits, that some of us should sit in a carriage and be driven by the coachman. The slave, once installed in his summer quarters, seldom appears again before the autumn exodus, unless in the event of some disturbance in the camp, or its invasion by some ants of a hostile tribe, when the slaves take part in the defence and especially watch over the young ones. The slaves seem to be carpenters and miners, and warriors when necessary. They build the dwelling, repair it, of which it has constant need, and defend if in case of attack with dauntless courage. But their principal duties seem to be to take charge of the development of the young, and to feed the masters — no small task, as there seem to be ten masters to one slave, and they seem incapable of eating unless fed. Experiments have been tried of removing the slaves from them, and though sugar and every sort of tempting food is put down beside them, they will starve rather than help themselves. In fact, one wonders what the masters can be left for but to drive the slaves, which
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