Open main menu

Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/474

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

the case of the same species; and to take care, in making experiments, to generalize with hesitation and great caution. Nor can we follow M. Forel further in his admirable monograph of the ants of his own native country; we must pass over altogether his chapters on their anatomy and physiology, on the geographical distribution of the ants of Switzerland, and many curious habits of particular species. There is one point, however, which has a general interest, namely the stinging and biting properties of ants. We will give M. Forel's remarks on the subject:

All the world [he says] fears the sting of ants, and yet of the sixty-six kinds occurring in Switzerland there are not more than four or five which are really capable of piercing our skin with their sting, and of causing us a little local inflammation, which betrays itself by an itching or by a pain more or less acute, as well as by a slight redness, with or without swelling. These kinds are as follows: — (1) Myrmica rubida; the sting of this ant is truly very painful; the pain which it produces is, in my opinion, at least very great, and much more acute than that of the sting of the common wasp (Vespa vulgaris, or V. germanica). But M. rubida is not very common, and its nests are in open places, where they are seen at once, so that one is not often molested. (2) M. lævinodis and ruginodis. These kinds, known by the name of the red ant (fourmi rouge, rousset, rousselety etc.), are the only one from which the public often suffer. When one has taken one's seat in woods, upon moss, or upon the trunk of a tree, by the side of brooks and rivers, it is rare that one does not come in contact with them; they quickly invade the clothes, and one feels presently in various parts, as it were, so many pricks of sharp pins. The pain is much less severe than that produced by M. rubida, and it generally disappears at the end of a few minutes. (3) The species M. scabrinodis and lobicornis seldom sting, for their disposition is not so aggressive as that of the preceding ones, and their sting is weaker. (4) The Tetramorium cæspitum bites with fury, but its bite is too short to pierce the skin, unless it be very thin (as that of infants and of the face). In this latter case it gives rise to a slight pain, or else, and this is generally so, to a simple itching. The other Myrmicidæ and the Poneridæ of Switzerland are incapable of stinging us, their sting being too weak or too short. Amongst the ants of the genus Leptothorax want of courage is the principal cause.

We conclude by expressing a wish that the perusal of this article may induce some of its readers to take up the study of the history of ants, with a view to verify or to correct the wonderful things attributed to them.





When she went to her room, there was Caley taking from a portmanteau the Highland dress which had occasioned so much. A note fell, and she handed it to her mistress. Florimel opened it, grew pale as she read it, and asked Caley to bring her a glass of water. No sooner had her maid left the room than she sprang to the door and bolted it. Then the tears burst from her eyes, she sobbed despairingly, and but for the help, of her handkerchief would have wailed aloud. When Caley returned she answered to her knock that she was lying down and wanted to sleep. She was, however, trying to force further communication from the note. In it the painter told her that he was going to set out the next morning for Italy, and that her portrait was at the shop of certain carvers and gilders, being fitted with a frame for which he had made drawings. Three times she read it, searching for some hidden message to her heart: she held it up between her and the light, then before the fire till it crackled like a bit of old parchment; but all was in vain: by no device, intellectual or physical, could she coax the shadow of a meaning out of it beyond what lay plain on the surface. She must, she would see him again.

That night she was merrier than usual at dinner; after it sang ballad upon ballad to please Liftore; then went to her room and told Caley to arrange for yet a visit the next morning to Mr. Lenorme's studio. She positively must, she said, secure her fathers portrait ere the ill-tempered painter — all men of genius were hasty and unreasonable — should have destroyed it utterly, as he was certain to do before leaving; and with that she showed her Lenorme's letter. Caley was all service, only said that this time she thought they had better go openly. She would see Lady Bellair as soon as Lady Lossie was in bed and explain the thing to her.

The next morning, therefore, the two drove to Chelsea in the carriage. When the door opened Florimel walked straight up to the study. There she saw no one, and her heart, which had been fluttering strangely, sank and was painfully still, while her gaze went wandering about the room. It fell upon the pictured temple of Isis: a thick dark veil had fallen and