200 THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON
' How shall we go to work to get the skin off? asked the boys, as we deposited our heavy burden before the grotto.
' See if you cannot find a way yourselves,' said I, good-humouredly.
' I have thought of a simple method,' cried Ernest; ' one I have often seen employed to skin eels, and which will do for the boa too. It is this ; to cut the skin around the neck, and, loosening the first part, attach strong cords to it, fasten the cord to the buffalo, and, taking care to secure the head of the serpent strongly, drive the animal in the opposite direction, and by that means draw off the whole skin.'
' Very well,' I assented ; ' to the work. I leave the whole labour and the honour of the invention to you alone. As for the preparation of the skin, nothing can be easier: after you have cleaned the head as well as possible, you can wash the skin with salt water, sand, and ashes ; then you must expose it to the sun's rays to dry, and, finally, fill it with hay, cotton, and all sorts of light materials.'
Fritz assured me that he understood all that I wished done, but that he was afraid they would not succeed.
So they began. And when at length they