‘Talking of speech,’ the doctor asked, ‘has he spoken at all? Made any sounds?’
‘No,’ the Colonel replied. ‘Apart from growling at one of our boys, I don’t think he’s made a sound. Must ask our boys if he’s tried to speak.’
What was going on? Yii just could not understand. He was half-longing to be back with his people. What would they be doing now? They might be out hunting, or simply sitting around and talking. Were they were looking for him? He watched as the second man spoke, but still Yii could understand nothing.
Puzzled, Yii looked from one to another. What werethey were saying? They didn’t sound aggressive, but he was frustrated, mystified. Baffled, he saw the first man talk to the third man. Then, fascinated, he watched, as the third man pulled out a small white thing, and started made marks on it with a shiny implement.
Still frustrated, he wondered why, if they could make speech to each other, they didn’t talk to him. Yii desperately tried to understand even the gist of what they were saying. They talked too fast and used complicated words. His tribe had only a very simple language, and virtually all words were of a single syllable – hence his name, and those of his family.
At last, overcome with frustration, Yii suddenly decided that he would speak, and he startled them all.
‘Ter in,’ (‘help me’) he said. ‘In na gern. Kim pern?’ (‘I do not understand. What is going on?’)
Astounded, shocked into silence, they all stood stock still in amazement. Stunned and puzzled, they were quite unable to know how to react to these strange sounds. To them Yii’s speech was more like grunts or growls, more like animal sounds that human.
Yii watching for a reply, couldn’t read their startled expressions, and couldn’t understand as one of the men spoke.
‘That is a surprise!’
The first man, the Colonel spoke to the third man.
‘Well, Kipling,’ he asked, ‘what do you think? Is he trying to speak? Is he asking for something? Or is he just growling at us?’
‘I’m sorry – I have no idea what it is,’ replied Kipling. ‘It’s quite meaningless to me.’ He spoke some words in patois: ‘What are you trying to say?’ he asked.
Poor Yii only looked puzzled and distressed, and even more confused.
‘Ter in,’ (‘help me’) he said again; ‘Kva in?’ (‘Where am I?’). ‘Wer in Nva?’ (‘Am I in a heaven?’).
Still they were all dumbfounded; the speech, if it was speech, was utterly strange to them and they had no idea how to interpret it. Eventually the first man spoke again
‘Poor chap,’ said the Colonel at length, ‘he seems to be quite out of his depth. Not much we can do about it. Perhaps he is just growling. What do you think, doctor?’
‘Well, at least he can make sounds,’ said Doctor Raybourne. ‘That’s something, though if it is some kind of language I can make nothing of it.’
After a long pause, and at a loss for anything to say, they concluded that there was nothing to be done.
Yii was thoroughly dejected by this inconclusive episode. He had hoped at one time that they were really going to say something he could understand and then he might know where he was and whether this was really a heaven or some other place.
He didn’t like being caged, and started pacing around the small space available to him, frustrated by being so confined. The Colonel and the others looked on. The pacing made him seem to them more like a caged animal than a human. They looked at one another, exchanging significant glances, as though they were saying; ‘Well, he must be an animal, a wolf boy after all.’
They moved away, not speaking any more. Yii had never felt more alone. He reached again for the stone in his arm band. It was the only link with his own world. Again he had that extraordinary sense of something quite beyond himself; not disturbing or exciting, but none the less remarkable, mysterious. At the end of a fretful day, he settled down to sleep.
That night Yii had another strange dream; very disturbing, since he was still not used to having such dreams. The light about him was blotchy at first, and then seemed to break up into bars – not bars staying still but constantly slipping and moving about. At length they became still, like the bars of his cage. He hated to be trapped in the cage, and began struggling to break the bars of his cage. He was not able to break them, but knew there was somewhere safe to get to if only he could get out of the cage. The place of safety he needed to get to was the layer of steps which curved downwards, the steps he had been struggling to reach the night before. His legs were leaden and he despaired of getting through the bars and to the steps.
The dream was again very intense, like a vision.