Hornworms to the left of me, hornworms to the right–the carnage was everywhere. Tomato plants raised denuded stumps to the sky, crying out for help. Frass littered the scene.
I surveyed the terrain and struck! One hornworm. Two. Three, four, in quick succession. Then, employing an old scout’s trick, I crouched and moved in closer.
The enemy thus revealed was appalling. Well-hidden, they had only to wait silently, they thought, for their natural predators to retreat once more, convinced that all was as it should be.
Woe betide those overconfident in their camouflage! I inched nearer, poised just so, and then snapped off a series of fast assaults. Eight-ten-twelve rapidly added to my coup. Fourteen. Sixteen. Eighteen!
At the end of that morning, under the pitiless bowl of cloudless July sky, I tallied my feat: four and twenty they numbered, brilliant in their sleek, striped skins, their lacquered horns raised uselessly against an unexpected foe. Dripping in gore, I escorted my prisoners to their ultimate fate.
And the chickens loved every one.