THE BOA-CONSTRICTOR'S VISIT 197
and, in a few instants, crushed him to death. The monster, to give himself more power, had wound his tail about a piece of rock, which gave it the force of a lever, and we saw him kneading, like dough, the mass of flesh, among which we could distinguish nothing but the head. When the monster judged his preparation sufficient, he began to swallow the meal he had prepared. He placed before him the mass of flesh, and, extending his immense length along the ground, by a sudden effort distended his body frightfully ; then, squirting a stream of saliva over the carcase, he began. Seizing the ass by the hind feet, by little and little we saw the whole body disappear. We observed that, as he advanced, the boa lost his strength; and, when all had been swallowed, he remained perfectly torpid and insensible.
The operation had been long: at seven o'clock it had begun, and at noon had just finished.
I saw that the time had arrived for action, and exclaiming, ' Now the boa is in our power !' I ran out from the grotto, carrying my loaded gun in my hand ; Fritz followed close by my side ; Jack came next, but the more timid Ernest lingered behind. T thought it best to pay no attention to him until