100 THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON
that we could carry them with us on our expeditions.
So I showed him how to cut certain small cylinders of wood of the size and length required ; then to stretch the softened skin upon the surface in such a way that it reached a little beyond the wood, then when it dried it would fit to the wood and stick to it tightly.
He was doing this when we heard the firing of a gun, which seemed to come from our tent in the tree, and several birds at the same time fell dead at our feet. Looking up, we saw Ernest standing outside the tent, with a gun in his hand, and heard him triumphantly exclaiming:
' Catch them ! I have hit them.'
He climbed down joyfully, and ran with Francis to pick up the fallen birds, while Fritz and Jack instantly rushed up the ladder to try to shoot birds too.
One of the dead birds was a sort of thrush, and the others were a very small kind of pigeon, which in the Antilles is called an ortolan, very fat, and of a delicious taste. We noticed that these birds were attracted by the wild figs, which were ripening. I gave the boys leave to kill as many as they liked. I knew that, half roasted and put into