Story summary.A little after his "Carnival Knowledge" adventure in Rio, Brazil, "Right Reverend Honorable Doctor Lucifer Jones" sees a lovely blond girl & promptly falls "eternally and everlastingly in love again". A little distraction & she is gone. A little investigation, & he learns she is Merilee "Merry" Bunta, daughter of Harvey Bunta. Lives "a few hundred miles inland" with her dad, "comes to town once every eight or nine months", "she's in line to inherit the Bunta fortune" which her dad "keeps it all in a strongbox on his estate". And that she is now gone back home.
Madly in love, Lucifer is on to long walk. During his many weeks' trek & a lot of misunderstandings during his encounters with natives, he is still rationalizing that nothing bad is afoot while all the natives are running in panic opposite direction.
At the end of the journey, he gets some scolding from her dad - first about not heeding signs that everyone is running away from this place, & then for being obnoxious in talking about her daughter. Anyway, the panicky Harvey tells him about the immediate danger - attack of "marabunta", "army ants" that eat everything in their way - vegetation & animals alike. I was wondering why he was awaiting sure death there rather than running away - but that is besides the point!
Lucifer has an opportunity to show his bravery. Sets up fire, on two different occasions, in the path of ants - now nearly upon them. But they just go around it & keep advancing. Dynamites a little dam nearby to drawn them, but parched land simply absorbs the water!
An altercation with Harvey, an accident, & unexpected help arrives from another species. After all is set right, & ants are repelled, he has impressed both dad & daughter - at least he didn't desert them, & has gone through a lot of pain to reach her.
Only, she find him kind of unlucky. "if I marry you, you will be the father of my children, and you were outsmarted by a bunch of ants on three different occasions... for the sake of my unborn children, I can’t marry you." And our heartbroken friend is on his way towards his next adventure.
- "it abounded in evil men and scarlet women, and you can't hardly run a religion without an abundance of sinners to save."
- "I settled for cooking up some eggs I had found, and you wouldn't believe how mad that made the anaconda what laid 'em, even though I'd left her a few hundred."
- "I found me a clutch of condor eggs, but as quick as I'd tap on the shell to bust 'em open, a baby condor would tap on his side of the shell, and before I could figure out what code we were conversing in, out he'd pop, and there went my breakfast. Not only that, but three of 'em decided I was their mama, and I had to keep feeding 'em all the insects I kept plucking out of my hair until they found a lady condor that seemed to be in the adoption business and went off with her."
- "Merry without no riches was better than no Merry without no riches."
- All stories by Mike Resnick.
- Lucifer Jones series. Mr Resnick's comments below are incorporated in the series article linked. I've also deleted the previously erroneous information in this article - so kindly corrected by Mr Resnick. Thank you Mr Resnick.
Fact sheet."Merry Bunta!", short story, review
First published: Subterranean magazine, Fall 2007.
Added to my best of the year 2007 picks.