Even in the children’s book reading I’m doing these days, the same sort of themes keep cropping up (this time quite unexpectedly):
All the time they stood there, the steady procession of rats continued. … They looked, Mrs. Frisby thought, like very large ants endlessly toiling on an anthill.
Justin must have got the same impression, for he said:
‘If the ants can do it, Nicodemus says, if the bees can do it, so can we.’
‘Why, live without stealing, of course. That’s the whole idea. That’s the Plan.’
‘We had a pretty good idea of what we were looking for. We had had plenty of time to talk about it, on the long winter evenings in the library between reading books.’
The reading we did! We knew very little about the world, you see, and we were curious. We learned about astronomy, about electricity, biology and mathematics, about music and art. I even read quite a few books of poetry and got to like it pretty well.
But what I liked best was history. I read about the ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans, and the Dark Ages, when the old civilizations fell apart and the only people who could read and write were the monks. They lived apart in monasteries. They led the simplest kind of lives, and studied and wrote; they grew their own food, built their own houses and furniture. They even made their own tools and their own paper. Reading about that, I began getting some ideas of how we might live.