Leiningen, at the moment he made that leap through the flames, lost consciousness for the first time in his life. The story inspired “Trumbo’s World” , the sixth episode of the television series MacGyver. The southern stretch of ditch–the upper side of the quadrilateral–was nearly three miles long; from its center one could survey the entire countryside. Views Read Edit View history. In the agony of their torment, both sprang blindly into the wide river, where enemies no less sinister awaited them. Yonder were thousands of millions of voracious jaws bearing down upon him and only a suddenly insignificant, narrow ditch lay between him and his men and being gnawed to the bones “before you can spit three times. And meanwhile Leiningen had made a discovery that chilled him to the bone-petrol was no longer flowing into the ditch. Such, indeed, was his aura of confidence that the Indians forgot their stupefied fear of the peril only a yard or two away; under the planter’s supervision, they began fervidly digging up to the edge of the bank and throwing clods of earth and spadefuls of sand into the midst of the hostile fleet.

The thwarted river had swept over the plantation, carrying with it the entire army. Leiningen, at the moment he made that leap through the flames, lost consciousness for the first time in his life. The flooding of the plantation had begun. He started the wheel–before it turned once on its axis the swarm covered his face. In the comforting, matter-of-fact light of morning, it seemed to him now that the ants hadn’t the ghost of a chance to cross the ditch. Unless the ants were clever enough to build rafts. He and his men can take refuge in the heights of the manor house on a hill. The planter’s chin jutted; they hadn’t got him yet, and he’d see to it they never would.

Once more an oily girdle surrounded the garrison, once more it was possible to hold the position–for the moment.

Shoals of ants were being carried away by the current into the middle of the ditch, where gradually they broke asunder and then, exhausted by their struggles, vanished below the surface. The petrol was now covered with ants.


He sent one to the weir-the river must be dammed more strongly to increase the speed and power of the water coursing through evrsus ditch. A few had climbed the inner concrete wall and were scurrying towards the defenders.

But their fleetness did not save them; long before they could attain the rafts, the enemy covered their bodies from head to foot. Hardly had he seized it when a horde of infuriated ants flowed over antw hands, arms and shoulders. Then out of the inferno of his bewilderment rose a terrifying inspiration.

Frantic with tne, he almost plunged into the river. Then all you have to do is wait here all snug and quiet till I’m back.

He ran in long, equal strides, with only one thought, one sensation, in his being–he must get through. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The discovery did not surprise Leiningen. Issue spades to every man along the line facing the wood!

But it also flung here and there squads of the enemy vanguard simultaneously up the inner bank. Wild screams of mortal anguish informed the breathless onlookers that crocodiles and sword-toothed piranhas were no less ravenous than ants, and even nimbler in reaching their prey.

But the reported enemy was by no means unfamiliar to the planter. He eventually brings in by air enough garlic and butter to cook all the snails into escargot.

For as long as there was the slightest chance of success, he had stood his ground, and now any further resistance was both useless and dangerous. The women and children, then the herds of cattle, were escorted by peons on rafts over the river, to remain on the other side in absolute safety until the plunderers had departed. Such, at least, was Leiningen’s opinion.

Leiningen Versus the Ants

They came at noon the second day. This was destined to be the scene of the outbreak of war between Leiningen’s brain and twenty square miles of life-destroying ants. So they squatted listlessly along the bank of the ditch and waited for a sign from the boss. The biggest danger now, he decided, was the point where the western section of the ditch curved southwards. For the third time the flames immolated the attacking troops, and burned down to extinction.


Even as Macbeth watched the approach of Birnam Wood in the hands of his enemies, Leiningen saw the tamarind wood move nearer and nearer in the mandibles of the ants.

Already he was running the return journey, knocking ants from his gloves and jacket, brushing them from his bloodied face, squashing them to death under his clothes. Not until the ditch curved towards the east did the scattered ranks assemble again in a coherent mass. Here and there solitary ants had reached the ditch; they gazed at the petrol meditatively, then scurried back again.

Something must be blocking the outflow pipe of the third and last cistern-a snake or a dead rat? Then a sweating peon tore up to him An immense flood of ants, about a hundred yards in width, was pouring in a glimmering-black cataract down the far slope of the ditch. No doubt they were victualing columns sent out to obtain provender for the rest of the army. It could not be long now before a stretch of water a mile in length was decked by a green pontoon over which the ants could rush in millions.

Leiningen Versus the Ants–Carl Stephenson ()

With a shot from his rifle Leiningen put it out of its misery. The planter drank it down without noticing its bitter taste; his mind was already at the weir. Once again they withdrew; once again petrol flowed into the ditch.

Yes, Leiningen had always known how to grapple with life. Realizing that another such casualty, yes, perhaps this alone, might plunge his men into confusion and destroy their morale, Leiningen roared in a bellow louder than the yells of the victim: A few of the peons fell on their knees and began to pray; others, shrieking insanely, fired their revolvers at the black, advancing masses, as if they felt their despair was pitiful enough to sway fate itself to mercy.

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