Now, after a night’s sleep, and most of a day to find her way around and recover from the journey, the Colonel and his wife had brought her as far as the cage.
The Colonel pointed out Yii to Sarah.
‘This is a strange person. We think he is a wolf boy, that is, someone who has got away from his parents as a small child and been brought up by wolves. We don’t really know much about him, but he could be dangerous. It’s all very strange.’
Sarah asked where he had come from, and the Colonel explained again how he found him. They all stood looking at Yii, who was sitting on his haunches and gazing at them. He was quite expressionless – though actually both sad, because he didn’t understand what was happening to him, and also curious, fascinated with the sight of this new person. The Colonel and the others talked for a while, but then the Colonel was then called away, and went off with his wife and Dr Raybourne. Sarah hung back, left alone to study Yii, which she did with great intensity looking at him with genuine interest, her head tipped slightly to one side, a puzzled look on her face, trying to make him out, to discover a way of understanding him, even of communicating.
Yii in turn looked with genuine interest at this new person who seemed curious about him, yet curious in an interested way, eager to engage directly with him perhaps, rather than simply talk about him as an object. He sensed someone who might just be able to understand him, who might be able to open a door into this strange world and answer some of his puzzling questions.
So he chose this moment to try to speak to her, seeking to engage her attention.
Pointing to himself, he kept saying his name: ‘Yii,’ and again: ‘Yii.’ Over and over. Sarah was puzzled by what sounded at first like growls or grunts. Was he just an animal, or was he trying to say something. Eventually Sarah caught on.
‘Ah,’ she said, ‘it’s your name: Yii.’ And pointing to him she said his name: ‘Yii.’ Yii was delighted and showed it, standing and almost dancing with an animation and a liveliness he had never shown since being in the cage.
‘Yii,’ he said again. ‘In Yii!’ (‘I’m Yii’).
Now it was Sarah’s turn to engage in the pantomime, and pointing to herself, she said her name: ‘Sarah,’ and again, ‘Sarah.’
This posed a small problem for Yii since he was used to a limited language where words were normally of one syllable. However, he made a great effort: ‘Sar – rah,’ he grunted, ‘Sar – rah.’ Sarah, trying to be encouraging and overcome his growl, spoke in a higher voice:
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘Sarah. Sarah.’ Showing the connectedness of the syllables.
‘Sar-ah,’ said Yii. ‘Sar-ah’.
‘That’s right,’ said Sarah. ‘Keep trying. Sarah; Sarah.’
This time Yii got it right, ‘Sarah,’ he said, ‘Sarah,’ delightedly pointing to her and repeating her name over and over.
‘Well done!’ said Sarah, ‘Very well done!’ Also delighted. They both laughed happily. The connection had been made, communication opened up.
Thus began an initially painful effort at language, but an effort which grew, gradually at first, and then rapidly less painful, and ultimately flowed and flowered with ease, for Yii like Sarah demonstrated a remarkable gift for language despite the severe limits of his own language..