We slit up the snake, and took out the flesh of the ass, which the boys laid in a grave near Tent House. The boa's skin we hung up at the door of the Cave, over which Ernest wrote the words, "No ass to be found here," which we all thought to be a good joke. One day late in the spring I went with my three sons a long way from the Cave.
Unless a strong breeze should get up which might drive us on shore, we must go on for many days without being able to obtain food. I again became anxious on that point, and was sorry we had not saved more of the boa's flesh, unpalatable as I had found it. Again the sun rose and found us floating on in the middle of the stream.
The boa's instincts were to crush, the python's to swallow; but this swallowing pertained also to the boa, and it came about that the boa got about three inches of the python's tail into his mouth, and later the python got a grip on the boa's tail. "They held fast and ceased their struggles, their efforts now being centered in the desire to swallow each other.
Yes, this was a source of deep thanks; and as the ship cut through the blue waves, Saib would sit for hours with his eyes on some far-off star, and that star would shed a ray of light on his soul. He would think it shone so bright, to tell him that it was Boa's world now. He felt sure that all things there must be pure and bright, and that Boa might there have more joy than she had had on earth.
Luckily the mast, yard, and sail had been placed in the bottom of her and so had not been broken, although almost the whole of the boa's ponderous weight must have rested upon them.
Instantly, with the leap of a panther, Graddy was upon him with both hands grasping tightly at his throat. Down, down, he pressed him, until Gaff lay on his back with his head over the gunwale. His strength now availed him nothing, for unnatural energy nerved the madman's arm. Billy sprang up and tried to disengage him from his grasp. As well might the rabbit try to unlock the boa's deadly coil.
At once I fancied that I had discovered the cause of the boa's appearance. He, in his wanderings in search of prey, had undoubtedly come upon the blood-stained tracks of the wounded deer, and had followed them up, till it had by chance espied the poor animal where it then was.
I hope he hasn't got out, I said to myself, thinking of a story I read once of a person in a menagerie, who turned suddenly and saw a great boa gliding towards him. As I stood wondering if the big worm could be under the little flat blanket before me, the branch began to move all at once, and with a start, I saw a limb swing down to stare at me with the boa's glittering eyes.
Then the boa let its prey fall, descended the tree, and prepared to swallow it. This last operation was much too lengthy for us to await its end. To simplify matters, I sent a ball into the boa's head. My Indians took the flesh to dry it for food, and the skin to make dagger sheaths of.
He knew that the boa's bite was harmless, and that it was only its embrace that was to be feared. He was within some eight feet of the reptile, when there was a spring. The snake's head disappeared and, in a moment, it was writhing, twisting, and lashing its tail so quickly that his eyes could hardly follow its contortions. "Stand back, master," Meinik shouted.