WEEVIL AND THE GIANT ANT
This morning, thought Weevil, I will go out to the woods early
and see what Felicity's friend the raccoon has to say for
himself. So off he went from the house carrying a bundle of all
kinds of food snacks and soon crossed the bridge on his way into
Not far along the trail he saw some ants with red heads and
bodies crossing his path in a line, so, naturally, he stopped to
watch. Then he squatted down and studied them more carefully.
At once several of them stood on their rearmost legs and waved
their front legs fiercely at him. He peered more closely.
"Go away," came faint cries to his ears, then more strongly, "Get
away from here, you're interfering with our operations. If you
do not withdraw at once we shall attack."
"Don't be ridiculous," said Weevil. "Why I could crush a
hundred of you with one foot if I chose, which I don't intend to
do, though," he added, and rising up he followed them away past
the trail into the bush, along a fallen, rotting tree trunk for at
least fifty feet, then in a curve past another tree, over the edge
of a large rock, around by a cluster of ground ivy, past a
tamarack and three white pines, on he went, counting one
hundred then two hundred paces, until he came to a great rock
along the side of which the long line of marching soldiers went,
and then disappeared underground.
Next he retraced his steps, and saw that those going along the
way he had come were empty handed, but those
going the same way as he now was were carrying
over their heads small white objects like
footballs with dark spots on one end. The red ants were even forcing their new black ant
slaves to carry their own black ant young to the Red Ant City
carried smaller black ants rolled up in balls. He
followed the lines of ants back, across the trail
where he had met them and away into the bush the other side.
Counting all his steps he traced their path for a full five
hundred paces before he found them disappearing into another
hole in the ground. This time it was partly concealed by some
low growing juniper beside a small rock on which he promptly sat
to watch them.
At once several red ants ran up on the rock and stood beside
him. They rose on their hind legs and threatened him again.
"Be on your way, mind your own affairs or we will attack. You
were warned before."
"How do you know that," said Weevil. "That was a long way off
and with different ants."
"We are all the same and know just what was said," one of them
"That's nonsense," said Weevil, "You're not all the same, you're
all different, although you may be similar, otherwise you'd all be
"We are one ant," the ant replied.
Now somehow Weevil began to be concerned, because either the
ants were getting larger or he was becoming smaller, in either
case the result was the same -- the ants seemed to grow larger
and fiercer at every moment.
"Well," said Weevil, who was always full of questions, "if you're
all one ant what are you doing running these seven hundred or
more feet carrying these ant eggs and black ants rolled in balls
over your heads?"
He realized now that he must be getting very small, because the
ants still standing up were forming a circle around him, and a
frightening looking sight they were.
"As you are our prisoner," said the same red ant, "we can tell
you. We sent scouts who found a city of black ants. We
determined conquest was in order. We are carrying back spoils
to our city. Prisoners will become slaves."
"Why do you want slaves?" asked Weevil.
"It is not soldiers' work to operate a city. We will continue
scouting and mapping territory to capture more slaves until we
rule all territory that exists."
"But," said Weevil, "what will you do if you meet other red ants
like yourselves, will you fight them also?"
"That is impossible," replied one ant. "We are the Ant and none
other exists like us but us."
"That is just not true," said Weevil, "there are miles and miles,
thousands of miles of territory and thousands or millions of red
ants. It's just that you haven't met them, that's all."
"What you say cannot be true," said the ant, "for we are all one
ant, if other ants exist they are us and we are them and our city
is theirs and theirs is ours."
"Well," said Weevil, "how many ants am I talking to now?"
"One," said the ant.
"No, I don't mean that," said Weevil, "how many ants are
standing around me now...why, there are ten of you."
"No," said the ant, "not ten, we are each extensions of each
other, we are all one ant. You are our prisoner, come with us."
Poor Weevil did not really have any choice, small as he was, and
they hustled him along in the midst of them towards the
entrance by the juniper. It seemed a giant one now, reaching up
into the heavens, so Weevil realized that he had shrunk, and not
that the ants had grown.
"At least that's a mercy," he thought. "I'm sure somehow if I
shrank I can grow again, but what could I do if they were really
as big as I was?"
Before he scarcely could realize it, he was hustled along in the
midst of them into the dank, cavernous passageway and found
himself in a long tunnel with branch passages leading off on
every side. What he found most disconcerting was that some
ants walked on the floor of the tunnel, while others just as
unconcerned walked along the sides and still others upside down
along the roof.
"Why don't you all walk on the floor?" asked Weevil.
"That would be foolish and inefficient," came the reply. "We
would then use only one-quarter of the available space."
"Then," asked Weevil, "what about ants who want to come the
"We are all one will, we all know where and when to go at the
same time," came the reply.
"I don't believe that," said Weevil, brave and contrary as ever.
"What about all the ants I saw not on the pathway but running
back and forth in a random way outside the path? They kept
changing their minds and their direction. I don't think they
knew where they were going."
"Foolish stranger," said the ant again, " you still cannot
understand our general will which directs all. They were scouting
the borders of our territory."
"You still haven't explained how ants seven hundred paces apart
knew I had been spoken to. How do you do that?"
"Our antennae make us one chain of command, all are part of the
Will of Ant at one time."
Weevil was just going to ask what happened to one ant if he were
to pick it up and take it away from the rest when he found
himself being rushed into a densely packed area of tunnels
literally crammed with ants, all moving in different directions,
and at first glance just changing positions without really doing
anything. They all looked terribly alike, like one ant, he had to
admit, and finally he concentrated on watching one only. Then he
saw that it really was doing something. It was ordering a smaller
black ant in front of it into a gallery where it met other black
ants and here its task was to help cut up the remains of a
caterpillar which had been dropped into the meat cutting
section, where the portions were to be provided to grubs
hatching out from the ant eggs. Another black ant was part of
a gang digging out new cells for the eggs that a third gang was
carrying away from the queen who had just laid them. Other
teams of slave ants were carrying in water and moistening the
galleries to keep the proper humidity while others were acting
as nursemaids for the larger and fiercer red ant grubs as they
hatched out. Still others were controlling temperature and
ventilation and had their sense of what to do imparted to them
by the antennae of the red ants controlling them. The longer he
stayed there the more Weevil began to sense a hum or a kind of
silent note in his ears or head which he began to feel must be
the powerful directional program of the One True Ant. Weevil
shook his head to escape the thought.
"How can I possibly become part of an ant hill," he asked
himself,"how ridiculous, I am a boy."
But try as he would against it, this silent hum seemed to come
back and fill his brain so that he was about ready to feel part of
it and do what he should do.
"How could I, I haven't any antennae," he said, but the ants still
surrounding him just looked at him, and again this persistent
sound began to fill his head.
"You have a mind," it said, "and are becoming part of the Great
He gradually begun to be more aware of how the ants far away
at the other end of the trail were nearing completion of their
task and bringing out the last spoils of the encounter.
"What will we do?" he asked, "There isn't enough room for them
all, we must expand."
And as the ants ushered him along to the end of a gallery he saw
more black ants there in a working party.
"We must dig, must dig," kept going over and over in his mind,
"while the others are doing their share," and he began to see
somehow faintly at first and then quite clearly what all the
others were doing. There seemed a new power in him now, a new
purpose, and he found himself scooping up all the earth he could
carry and joining a long line of black ants. On they went, through
gallery after gallery, until finally they reached a different
entrance from the one he had come in by, and there they
scrambled up a steep slope of loose tailings. Like the others he
dutifully dropped his load over the top edge. He saw large red
ants with giant mandibles patrolling down below the little
mountain the slave ants were creating, but somehow he did not
then think of escape. He was concerned to get down again and
bring up more handfuls of earth from the gallery. Back and
forth he went hour after hour, and did not feel tired or hungry,
and always the humming sound was in his head and he knew
himself to be part of the One, the Giant, the Universal Ant.
He did not question this source of power, this sense of destiny,
and as he travelled back and forth he passed near the queen's
gallery and saw part of the huge body and how she was
constantly being fed by her attendants, while others were
endlessly taking away her eggs at the other end of her gallery.
But Weevil knew that she was not the source of this strange
power that infused him. She was just as much a part of it as he
Before long the gallery Weevil worked in was completed and as
it reached the closing stages a new message began to come more
and more strongly into his brain. He was constantly being
touched with their antennae by other ants and perhaps this
caused the sense of belonging, of being part of the giant
enterprise. He always naturally stood aside to let the warrior
ants pass, and fierce and strong they looked indeed. Their huge
eyes in their impressive heads stared right through him as he
travelled on his task. But the new message was rising within him
and it was saying, "Food, food, there is food captured which must
be brought in". Over and over this song or sound kept insisting
itself in his head, yet he was not hearing words or a voice, only
the universal hum that overpowered his brain.
Thus it was that he found himself threading his way through the
vast network of intricate galleries without any sense of loss of
direction, and as he went he became more and more conscious of
other black ants and some smaller red ants, too, moving in the
direction he was moving. Soon there was a long procession of
them all moving in the same direction and for a common purpose.
Not having as many legs as the ants, and not being any larger, he
found it hard work to scramble up and down on the uneven
ground of the passageways. Being so small now, he saw for the
first time how many odds and ends of things went to make up the
earth on which he walked. There were twigs and stones and
some of these were highly coloured. There were minute plant
growths and large grains of sand about the size of footballs.
These were best to walk on where they were tightly packed.
As he approached the light at the end of a tunnel he realized
that the city itself must have been in darkness, yet he could not
explain how that had not presented any problem. He knew where
to go, what to do, where all things were within the city, and yet
it was without light as he knew it. He still wondered at this as
he and the other ants moved up the steepening slope into the
darkening daylight. He realized directly that it must be close to
evening now, as they marched on. After a while they came to a
There was an enormous white object, shining and reflecting in
the fading light, it was something like a giant balloon because its
shape was not square but tall as a high rise building at one end,
and falling away somewhat to a lesser height at the other.
There was a great opening at one end and into this giant space
went Weevil, in line with the other ants. In they marched along
the slippery, glistening surface, then up and over a great gap into
a darker brown area which made hollow noises as they soldiered
across it. A long way ahead Weevil could make out some strange
cube-like shapes. Partly they were white and partly a darker
colour within. It was this darker colour that the agile footed
ants were climbing up to, and there each was tearing and tugging
away at a portion of the darker part and carrying it off.
Soon Weevil's turn came and he had clambered up to the dark
surface and was tugging and wrestling to pull away a piece when
suddenly a long sliver came away in his hands and he fell with it
to the surface below. It seemed a long fall, at least fifteen feet
or more. He was quite winded and almost lost consciousness, but
clung to the sliver about four feet long in his hands. The surface
under him had proved quite soft and gave way as he landed on it,
on his side, so he was not injured. But the smell of the sliver was
very good, and he began to realize he was hungry. He picked
himself up and moved off a little to one side and took a bite at
the sliver, which was food. Better than that, it was good fresh-cooked meat, and he began to eat ravenously. No one stopped
him, because most of the ants were carrying the food in their
forelegs and mouths anyway. He crept further away into the
darkness of the cavern and found he was getting out of touch
with the humming sound in his brain and began to think more like
himself. Then he noticed a hole an enterprising beetle had cut
through the wall of the cavern and was just able to move himself
through it. Outside that was the white, shiny material which
reflected in a luminous way the light beyond it. There were no
ants around him now and as he walked and ate he noticed the
space was getting more cramped, and the remaining meat in his
hand smaller and smaller as he ate. Soon he reached the end of
the shiny luminous substance and stepped out into daylight. He
had to bend almost double to get clear of the white cavern,
which seemed more like a very small hole now, and as he looked
back at it he saw he was looking down at it, and it was growing
smaller and smaller. He finished eating the last morsel of meat
in his hands and then suddenly realized that he was looking at his
lunch bag with a white plastic bag over it. The ants were busy
stealing his lunch!
This time he made no attempt to bend down and remonstrate
with them, he was very glad to be about his normal size. Besides,
who would want sandwiches after ants and a beetle anyway.
He looked at the scene in amazement. The lunch bag was really
very close to the juniper and the rock by the ant city entrance,
although it had been a long trek for him just a short while ago.
Still bewildered he turned away and looked around for the trail
so that he could go back home. After keeping the juniper and
the small rock carefully in sight so that he would not get lost, he
at last found the trail and started off home again, in fact he
discovered he had not gone more than a very short distance past
the bridge over the river.
By the time he arrived home he had still not recovered. He could
scarcely believe what he had just experienced.
"Just in time, Waverley," said mother Nancy to him as he walked
in the door, "supper's ready and we were beginning to wonder
what kept you so long."
"I bet," said Felicity, "he's going to tell us one of his crazy
stories about being locked up in a beehive or something."
"Well," said Weevil, "as a matter of fact..." but then he
thought better of it, and sat down thankfully to supper without
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