To 134 Deg.;
And If Certain Kinds Of Beetles Were Placed On The Surface,
They Ran About A Few Seconds And Expired.
But this broiling heat
only augmented the activity of the long-legged black ants:
they never tire; their organs
Of motion seem endowed with the same power
as is ascribed by physiologists to the muscles of the human heart,
by which that part of the frame never becomes fatigued,
and which may be imparted to all our bodily organs in that higher sphere
to which we fondly hope to rise. Where do these ants get their moisture?
Our house was built on a hard ferruginous conglomerate,
in order to be out of the way of the white ant, but they came in
despite the precaution; and not only were they, in this sultry weather,
able individually to moisten soil to the consistency of mortar
for the formation of galleries, which, in their way of working,
is done by night (so that they are screened from the observation of birds
by day in passing and repassing toward any vegetable matter
they may wish to devour), but, when their inner chambers were laid open,
these were also surprisingly humid. Yet there was no dew,
and, the house being placed on a rock, they could have no subterranean passage
to the bed of the river, which ran about three hundred yards below the hill.
Can it be that they have the power of combining the oxygen and hydrogen
of their vegetable food by vital force so as to form water?*
* When we come to Angola, I shall describe an insect there
which distills several pints of water every night.
Rain, however, would not fall.
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