THE METHOD AND THE MATERIAL 289
the noisy manifestations of the little one. He would call everyone to see, and if there were some who did not go, he ran to take hold of their clothes forcing them to come and see. We all had to go and stand about the written word to admire the marvel, and to unite our exclamations of surprise with the joyous cries of the fortunate author. Usually, this first word was written on the floor, and, then, the child knelt down before it in order to be nearer to his work and to contemplate it more closely.
After the first word, the children, with a species of frenzied joy, continued to write everywhere. I saw children crowding about one another at the blackboard, and behind the little ones who were standing on the floor another line would form consisting of children mounted upon chairs, so that they might write above the heads of the little ones. In a fury at being thwarted, other children, in order to find a little place where they might write, overturned the chairs upon which their companions were mounted. Others ran toward the window shutters or the door, covering them with writing. In these first days we walked upon a carpet of written signs. Daily accounts showed us that the same thing was going on at home, and some of the mothers, in order to save their pavements, and even the crust of their loaves upon which they found words written, made their children presents of paper and pencil. One of these children brought to me one day a little note-book entirely filled with writing, and the mother told me that the child had written all day long and all evening, and had gone to sleep in his bed with the paper and pencil in his hand.
This impulsive activity which we could not, in those first days control, made me think upon the wisdom of Nature, who develops the spoken language little by little,