Tarzan of the Apes

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 40

A BOY AND A DOG


There they were, the three little bugs which always accompanied the
little ape.

And so he progressed very, very slowly, for it was a hard and laborious
task which he had set himself without knowing it--a task which might
seem to you or me impossible--learning to read without having the
slightest knowledge of letters or written language, or the faintest
idea that such things existed.

He did not accomplish it in a day, or in a week, or in a month, or in a
year; but slowly, very slowly, he learned after he had grasped the
possibilities which lay in those little bugs, so that by the time he
was fifteen he knew the various combinations of letters which stood for
every pictured figure in the little primer and in one or two of the
picture books.

Of the meaning and use of the articles and conjunctions, verbs and
adverbs and pronouns he had but the faintest conception.

One day when he was about twelve he found a number of lead pencils in a
hitherto undiscovered drawer beneath the table, and in scratching upon
the table top with one of them he was delighted to discover the black
line it left behind it.

He worked so assiduously with this new toy that the table top was soon
a mass of scrawly loops and irregular lines and his pencil-point worn
down to the wood. Then he took another pencil, but this time he had a
definite object in view.

He would attempt to reproduce some of the little bugs that scrambled
over the pages of his books.

It was a difficult task, for he held the pencil as one would grasp the
hilt of a dagger, which does not add greatly to ease in writing or to
the legibility of the results.

But he persevered for months, at such times as he was able to come to
the cabin, until at last by repeated experimenting he found a position
in which to hold the pencil that best permitted him to guide and
control it, so that at last he could roughly reproduce any of the
little bugs.

Thus he made a beginning of writing.

Copying the bugs taught him another thing--their number; and though he
could not count as we understand it, yet he had an idea of quantity,
the base of his calculations being the number of fingers upon one of
his hands.

His search through the various books convinced him that he had
discovered all the different kinds of bugs most often repeated in
combination, and these he

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