STAR STONE TRILOGY Book One: Yii Chapter Nine (cont.) Sarah teach Yii (stone-age boy) to speak in English

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..
They started, as people so often do when learning a totally strange language, with parts of the body: ‘hand’, then ‘arm’, and so on. The trouble came inevitably when Sarah tried to introduce verbs, for Yii’s language had hardly any verbs.
‘I am Sarah,’ said Sarah, pointing to herself.
‘I am Sarah,’ said Yii, pointing to Sarah.
‘No!’ said Sarah. ‘You are Yii. I am Sarah,’ pointing first to Yii and then to herself.
Frustratingly, Yii repeated those words, also pointing first to himself and then to Sarah: ‘You are Yii, I am Sarah.’
‘No! You say ‘I am Yii; you are Sarah’.
Yii looked thoroughly puzzled. This was the same and not the same. It was becoming quite unclear who should point to whom.
‘Oh dear!’ said Sarah. ‘This won’t do at all. We shall have to think of some other way of doing it.’ She stopped and thought for a moment, trying to work out how to solve this problem. Reluctantly she came to the conclusion that she would have to hold his arm and point his hand toward herself, and then towards him.
Sarah hesitated; there was an inbuilt barrier to overcome, a deep inhibition. Victorians – especially Victorian girls – would never talk to strangers, let alone touch them; least of all those of a totally different culture, and certainly not those who seemed, initially at least, so alien (could he really be dangerous?). But how else was she to help him understand this crucial and basic verb?
She continued to hesitate, but Yii’s puzzlement and confusion eventually touched and moved her, persuading her to overcome the inhibition. She beckoned Yii to the edge of the cage. He understood the gesture, and almost shyly, warily, came towards her. He stopped short, but she beckoned again, smiling encouragement. So he came to the edge of the cage.
No one had touched Yii up to this point. He was equally wary; this was new territory. He could see her face closely now; it wasn’t just white, it was slightly pink. As he looked at her and she at him, eyes wide open with curiosity, her face became a deeper shade of pink. Curious – but he couldn’t possibly know about blushing.
Gently Sarah took his hand, and for the first time saw closely the bite marks, wondering how he had got them. Yii noticed how soft and smooth Sarah’s hand was, though he could not have known that it was considerably less so than most English girls of her kind.
Sarah holding Yii’s hand pointed it towards him and said: ‘I am Yii.’
Dutifully Yii repeated the words: ‘I am Yii.’
‘Well done!’ said Sarah. ‘And again, I am Yii.’ Again Yii spoke the words, pointing to himself.
‘That’s really good,’ said Sarah. ‘Now we must do it the other way round.’ And pointing Yii’s hand towards herself she said: ‘You are Sarah.’ And to Sarah’s delight Yii said the words correctly.
‘Excellent,’ she said. ‘We really are making progress.’ And Yii was also thrilled because he could sense how pleased Sarah was; and he said the words again and again:
‘You are Sarah. You are Sarah.’
‘Now,’ said Sarah, ‘this is more difficult; we must try it without me holding your hand, then you really will have mastered it.’ But a voice interrupted her at this point.
‘Sarah, are you there?’ It was her companion, Miss Brice, who had travelled out with her, and was to be her tutor while she was in India.
‘It’s high time you were in bed, ‘she said. ‘I’ve been looking for you. You really shouldn’t be out here on your own.’
‘Oh it’s all right, Miss Brice; father brought me out here, and I’m perfectly safe. I’m just fascinated with the wolf boy. I shall come out tomorrow with my sketch book; it will be good practice to try to draw him.’ Thinking that the sketch book would be excellent cover for her visit to Yii and the lessons in English.


Star Stone Trilogy – Book One: Yii, Chapter nine (cont.)

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..

Star Stone Trilogy, Book One: Yii Chapter Nine


That evening Yii saw a new person, a contrast to the discomfort of being mocked and prodded with the stick, surely a truly heavenly being:  white, about his height, but with remarkably fair hair, and also green eyes.  So different: all the people of Yii’s experience had dark hair.  Fair hair was a revelation; green eyes were quite remarkable.  White skin was a feature of the other taller ones, sometimes wearing crowns, but their hair and eyes were brown. Yii wondered again if he were in a heaven, and if not, where he could possibly be.

The Colonel, back from manoeuvres, had come out of the house with his wife, and Dr Raybourne, yet again looking at Yii and wondering about him.  Dr Raybourne was now convinced that Yii was a wolf boy, and had told the Colonel as much, warning him to beware of letting him loose.  With the Colonel and his wife was their daughter, very new to India and still dazed and dazzled by the wonder of it all, the strange sights and sounds and smells, especially the smells, and the heat!  The person in the cage was only one of a thousand new sights.

This was indeed Sarah.  She had travelled with Miss Brice, her companion, from England, but for almost the first time in her life had been unable to cope with her environment, and missed the first half of the voyage through being thoroughly seasick.  However, she had recovered once the ship was in the Mediterranean, and enjoyed the remainder of her time on board, with all the new and interesting experiences.  Miss Brice had been friendly, but never bossy.  As they journeyed down the Red Sea it grew ever hotter.  Sarah was amazed at the sight of Aden, constantly looking over the side of the ship at the small boats plying their trade, the traders trying to persuade the passengers to buy their goods.  Then it was on to Bombay and terra firma, and an extraordinary train journey north in stifling heat.  Finally there was a carriage to take them over rough and wild roads to the encampment and the Colonel’s fine house.  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.

Star Stone Trilogy – Book One: Yii Chapter Eight (cont.)

After Hilary term they celebrated Easter. Sarah found time to study hard, and again Professor Stanford was delighted with her progress.  Oxford in the Trinity term was shimmering in beauty: sunlight on old stone, gardens ablaze, immaculate lawns and the intoxicating smell of summer.  Sarah, delighting in the finery of the city, loved going down to the river in the afternoons to watch the rowing.   Eights Week, a week of rowing races was coming up, and the Sherborne eight were really promising.

Eights Week was a gilded carnival, of colour and laughter and the excitement of the bumps. All Oxford seemed to throng to the river for this highlight of the year. Sarah loved every minute, especially as Sherborne College did well.

All too soon, however, it would be time to travel.  After a last time in the lovely worship of the chapel, she had to start preparing what she would take to India; not her clothes, for Aunt Caroline would see to those, packing in new cool dresses and hats for the very hot climate.  She selected particular Latin and Greek and Hebrew texts and text books, for she was determined to surprise Uncle Alexander when she got back. On a whim she also packed her black wig.

On Tuesday she would be taken to Southampton with her new companion and tutor, Miss Brice, and put on the ship to sail for India.  Miss Brice had been chosen by Aunt Caroline from several possible companions because she felt that Miss Brice would not get in the way of Sarah’s outgoing and adventurous nature. She seemed pleasant and easy going, and had modest accomplishments in French, Maths and English, enough to help Sarah learn more.

Sarah still had very mixed feelings – sadness at leaving her aunt and uncle, some trepidation at the thought of seeing here parents after such a long time: and a sense of adventure at the thought of a new country. At the same time she was desperate to keep hunting for the lost treasure.  Her dreams of a circular stone staircase still led her to think the treasure might be in Palmer’s Tower, but that was always locked. She tried Jack the porter again.

‘Please Jack,’ she asked, ‘have you found a key to Palmer’s Tower?

‘Well miss,’ he said, ‘I can’t say as I has.  But I will keep looking for you.’

‘Thank you Jack,’ she said, ‘Please keep looking, and I shall keep asking.’

And that was that; now she would be going away without having explored Palmer’s Tower.  Still, she would return in just a few months, so she could get back to this quest.

At that final and very moving service in the chapel, Sarah had a great sense of a calling, a destiny even, that she had a role to find that sacred treasure and restore it to the great benefit of Sherborne College.  She would keep thinking about it while she was away.

After a touching farewell to her aunt and uncle, Sarah and Miss Brice were taken off to Southampton and the beginning of a new adventure.

Star Stone Trilogy Book One; Yii Chapter Eight (cont.)

The rest of the Hilary term went forward without much incident.  Sarah had another encounter with Professor Sneddon.  Having heard more about the stories of college treasures, she tried to confront him again to find out what he was trying to do.

‘Professor Sneddon,’ she said, ‘please will you tell me about the college treasures you are looking for.  I’d be really interested to know more about the history.’

‘You just mind your own business,’ retorted the professor very sharply. ‘And just keep your nose out of other people’s affairs.’

‘But I really am so interested…’ she started – but the professor turned away, leaving Sarah standing there, amazed at his rudeness.

She started following him up the stairs, but he heard her and turned round, with a face of thunder.

‘You keep right away and stop trying to interfere with busy people’ he snarled. He looked so vicious and evil that Sarah backed away.

‘I bet he’s after that treasure for himself,’ thought Sarah. ‘I shall make it my business to find it first.  I wonder if those dreams of winding steps are a clue. Maybe it is hidden in Palmers Tower.  I must try to get into it – I wonder if Jack at the lodge has found a key.’


Star Stone Trilogy Book One: Yii Chapter Eight (cont.)

‘Sarah,’ said Aunt Caroline, ‘you know the Rector and I will be going away.  I’ve heard back from your mother, and she would like you to go out to India.  We shall arrange a companion and tutor to travel with you and look after you out there.’

Sarah was surprised, taken aback.

‘Will they remember me?’ she asked. ‘It’s so long since they’ve seen me.’

‘Of course they will.  You’ll have a wonderful time, and it will be a great experience travelling out to India.’

Sarah had very mixed feelings.  On the one hand she hardly knew her parents, and she was having such a marvellous time at Sherborne College.  On the other hand, she did miss having parents like other young people, and felt that perhaps she ought to get to know them again.

However, it was back to studying with the Rector most days which she enjoyed tremendously; and that went from strength to strength.  Uncle Alexander was very pleased with her work over the vacation, and she was able to forge ahead with Greek writers, with starting Hebrew, and soon making a start on theology.  This proved more interesting than she expected, especially when she was able to converse with the College Visitor, the Bishop of Sherborne.

As the college had been founded by a Bishop of Sherborne, Walter de Montival, early in the fourteenth century, the current Bishop was expected to visit from time to time and preach in the chapel.  After chapel and before dinner, he met Sarah at the Rector’s Lodging.  When he discovered she was studying with the Rector, he was immediately interested.

‘Latin, Greek, Hebrew and theology!’ He was surprised. ‘So what have you learnt in theology that has interested you?’ he asked.

‘Well,’ said Sarah, ‘it is all interesting. But Uncle Alexander – I mean the Rector – preaches more about God’s love, and about life and joy.  So his theology is based more on the Greek writers, and especially Irenaeus. They talk more of the goodness of creation, so we start from a different point, our good creation in the image of God.  Of course, there are no Greek manuscripts of Irenaeus so we have to read him in Latin.’

‘You read Irenaeus in the Latin!’ said the Bishop. ‘That is advanced.’

‘I had a head start,’ said Sarah, ‘and the Rector is such a good teacher and I do enjoy learning.’

‘Well, it’s good to find someone so enthusiastic,’ said the Bishop. ‘We must talk more of this, perhaps after breakfast tomorrow.’

At that point it was time for him to go to dinner with the Rector, and Sarah was able to sit down to a quiet supper with Aunt Caroline.

Star Stone Trilogy, Book One: Yii Chapter Eight (cont.)

. Sarah, with help from Desmond, got the boat into the water, and the crew into the boat. Her heart in her mouth, she took the cox’s seat – quite different from the space and stability of the pair at Kingham. They pushed off, and she tentatively gave the orders, trying to growl her voice low: ‘Come forward. Are you ready? Paddle!’
Suddenly the rear of the cox’s seat hit her back with considerable force, and the boat took off with frightening speed. Before she knew where she was they seemed to have arrived at the head of the river.
‘Easy all,’ muttered Desmond. So she called out: ‘Easy all!’ And to her relief they did, and the boat slowed down, gliding with the blades off the water, and she remembered from Kingham to call: ‘Drop!’ and the crew dropped their blades onto the water.
With Desmond’s help she got the boat turned and they set off downstream. Now she began to get the feel of the boat and, thrilled with the speed of the boat and the power of the eight oarsmen, she learnt to anticipate moves, for things happened amazingly quickly. Soon, she mastered the steering with confidence, getting a real sense of what was happening; she seemed to have an instinctive flair for the way the boat ran and how to steer it. She was then able to turn the boat at the bottom of the river, and get to the top of the stretch in one go. She was really enjoying the experience.
The outing was considered by all to have been ‘not half bad’, which of course meant it was excellent. Desmond gave her tea in his rooms, and said that he wished she could be the proper cox of the eight. Sarah was tremendously thrilled, and Aunt Caroline wondered what had made her even more bubbly than usual.
There was one cloud on the horizon: Professor Stanford was going to be away on sabbatical leave at the end of the Trinity (summer) term, and Aunt Caroline would be going with him to Greece.