Chapter 29 Summary
Still fearful of the boa constrictor and wondering if there might be more like it, the father and his sons set out to explore as much of the island as they can. During their first day of camping, they come across the sugarcane fields they had discovered months ago and renew their enjoyment of the sweet juice. While they are refreshing themselves, they hear their dogs barking in the distance. When they look in the direction of the sounds, they find a single line of strange animals running out of the thickest part of the sugarcane. The animals look like small pigs, but they have very pointed snouts with sharp, short tusks. The father shoots two of the creatures before the rest of the herd gets away.
They are probably peccaries, the father says. He remembers having read about these animals having an odoriferous gland in their backs that must be quickly removed before the meat becomes tainted and unfit to eat. With the help of his sons, the father quickly removes the glands from the kill.
As they are cleaning the pig-like creatures, they hear gunshots coming from the hut where they had left the mother with Ernest; the father sends Jack to make sure that the rest of the family is all right. When Jack returns, he reports that the pig-like creatures had marched right past the family hut, and Ernest had killed three more of them. With this news, the father loads the cart and rejoins the rest of the family.
Now that they have a great supply of new meat, they must preserve it. They sear the skin, cut out the hams, and give the rest of the meat to the dogs. Then they salt the meat, preparing it to be smoked. However, they first must build a smokehouse. When the shed is erected, they hang the slabs of meat over fires they build on the earthen floor. They use green wood to create more smoke than flames.
They then dig a hole and prepare it to cook the other portions of the meat. They burn heaps of grass, sticks, and weeds in the hole, and once the fire is strong, they place stones on top. The meat is then wrapped in large leaves, sown together, to make a tight package. This is placed onto the now-hot stones, and the dirt they had dug for the hole is shoveled over it. The meat will cook in this way as if it were in an oven. The mother is doubtful about this new cooking process, but when the meat is served, everyone is delighted with how good it tastes.