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The Empire of the Ants

English
Book ID: 427
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When Captain Gerilleau received instructions to take his new gunboat, the Benjamin Constant, to Badama on the Batemo arm of the Guaramadema and there assist the inhabitants against a plague of ants, he suspected the authorities of mockery. His promotion had been romantic and irregular, the affections of a prominent Brazilian lady and the captain’s liquid eyes had played a part in the process, and the Diario and O Futuro had been lamentably disrespectful in their comments. He felt he was to give further occasion for disrespect.

He was a Creole, his conceptions of etiquette and discipline were pure-blooded Portuguese, and it was only to Holroyd, the Lancashire engineer who had come over with the boat, and as an exercise in the use of English—his “th” sounds were very uncertain— that he opened his heart.

“It is in effect,” he said, “to make me absurd! What can a man do against ants? Dey come, dey go.”[...]

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