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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 191

the wind. There was very little bird or mammal life; there were few long vistas, for in most places it was not possible to see far among the gray, gnarled trunks of the wind-beaten little trees. Yet the desolate landscape had a certain charm of its own, although not a charm that would be felt by any man who does not take pleasure in mere space, and freedom and wildness, and in plains standing empty to the sun, the wind, and the rain. The country bore some resemblance to the country west.of Redjaf on the White Nile, the home of the giant eland; only here there was no big game, no chance of seeing the towering form of the giraffe, the black bulk of elephant or buffalo, the herds of straw-colored hartebeests, or the ghostly shimmer of the sun glinting on the coats of roan and eland as they vanished silently in the gray sea of withered scrub.
  One feature in common with the African landscape was the abundance of ant-hills, some as high as a man. They were red in the clay country, gray where it was sandy; and the dirt houses were also in trees, while their raised tunnels traversed trees and ground alike. At some of the camping-places we had to be on our watch against the swarms of leaf-carrying ants. These are so called in the books—the Brazilians call them “carregadores,” or porters—because they are always carrying bits of leaves and blades of grass to their underground homes. They are inveterate burden-bearers, and they industriously cut into pieces and carry off any garment they can get at; and we had to guard our shoes and clothes from them, just as we had often had to guard all our belongings against the termites. These ants did not bite us; but we