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TO MRS. KATE ADAMS KELLER South Boston, Nov. 10, 1890.

My Dearest Mother:--My heart has been full of thoughts of you and my beautiful home ever since we parted so sadly on Wednesday night. How I wish I could see you this lovely morning, and tell you all that has happened since I left home! And my darling little sister, how I wish I could give her a hundred kisses! And my dear father, how he would like to hear about our journey! But I cannot see you and talk to you, so I will write and tell you all that I can think of.

We did not reach Boston until Saturday morning. I am sorry to say that our train was delayed in several places, which made us late in reaching New York. When we got to Jersey City at six o'clock Friday evening we were obliged to cross the Harlem River in a ferry-boat. We found the boat and the transfer carriage with much less difficulty than teacher expected. When we arrived at the station they told us that the train did not leave for Boston until eleven o'clock, but that we could take the sleeper at nine, which we did. We went to bed and slept until morning. When we awoke we were in Boston. I was delighted to get there, though I was much disappointed because we did not arrive on Mr. Anagnos' birthday. We surprised our dear friends, however, for they did not expect us Saturday; but when the bell rung Miss Marrett guessed who was at the door, and Mrs. Hopkins jumped up from the breakfast table and ran to the door to meet us; she was indeed much astonished to see us. After we had had some breakfast we went up to see Mr. Anagnos. I was overjoyed to see my dearest and kindest friend once more. He gave me a beautiful watch. I have it pinned to my dress. I tell everybody the time when they ask me. I have only seen Mr. Anagnos twice. I have many questions to ask him about the countries he has been travelling in. But I suppose he is very busy now.

The hills in Virginia were very lovely. Jack Frost had dressed them in gold and crimson. The view was most charmingly picturesque. Pennsylvania is a very beautiful State. The grass was as green as though it was springtime, and the golden ears of corn gathered together in heaps in the great fields looked very pretty. In Harrisburg we saw a donkey like Neddy. How I wish I could see my own donkey and my dear Lioness! Do they miss their mistress very much? Tell Mildred she must be kind to them for my sake.

Our room is pleasant and comfortable.

My typewriter was much injured coming. The case was broken and the keys are nearly all out. Teacher is going to see if it can be fixed.

There are many new books in the library. What a nice time I shall have reading them! I have already read Sara Crewe. It is a very pretty story, and I will tell it to you some time. Now, sweet mother, your little girl must say good-bye.

With much love to father, Mildred, you and all the dear friends, lovingly your little daughter, HELEN A. KELLER.

TO JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER South Boston, Dec. 17, 1890.

Dear Kind Poet, This is your birthday; that was the first thought which came into my mind when I awoke this morning; and it made me glad to think I could write you a letter and tell you how much your little friends love their sweet poet and his birthday. This evening they are going to entertain their friends with readings from your poems and music. I hope the swift winged messengers of love will be here to carry some of the sweet melody to you, in your little study by the Merrimac. At first I was very sorry when I found that the sun had hidden his shining face behind dull clouds, but afterwards I thought why he did it, and then I was happy. The sun knows that you like to see the world covered with beautiful white snow and so he kept back all his brightness, and let the little crystals form in the sky. When they are ready, they will softly fall and tenderly cover every object. Then the sun will appear in all his radiance and fill the world with light. If I were with you to-day I would give you eighty-three kisses, one for each year you have lived. Eighty-three years seems very long to me. Does it seem long to you? I wonder how many years there will be in eternity. I am afraid I cannot think about so much time. I received the letter which you wrote to me last summer, and I thank you for it. I am staying in Boston now at the Institution for the Blind, but I have not commenced my studies yet, because my dearest friend, Mr. Anagnos wants me to rest and play a great deal.

Teacher is well and sends her kind remembrance to you. The happy Christmas time is almost here! I can hardly wait for the fun to begin! I hope your Christmas Day will be a very happy one and that the New Year will be full of brightness and joy for you and every one. From your little friend HELEN A. KELLER.

WHITTIER'S REPLY

My Dear Young Friend--I was very glad to have such a pleasant letter on my birthday. I had two or three hundred others and thine was one of the most welcome of all. I must tell thee about how the day passed at Oak Knoll. Of course the sun did not shine, but we had great open wood fires in the rooms, which were all very sweet with roses and other flowers, which were sent to me from distant friends; and fruits of all kinds from California and other places. Some relatives and dear old friends were with me through the day. I do not wonder thee thinks eighty three years a long time, but to me it seems but a very little while since I was a boy no older than thee, playing on the old farm at Haverhill. I thank thee for all thy good wishes, and wish thee as many. I am glad thee is at the Institution; it is an excellent place. Give my best regards to Miss Sullivan, and with a great deal of love I am Thy old friend, JOHN G. WHITTIER.

Tommy Stringer, who appears in several of the following letters, became blind and deaf when he was four years old. His mother was dead and his father was too poor to take care of him. For a while he was kept in the general hospital at Allegheny. From here he was to be sent to an almshouse, for at that time there was no other place for him in Pennsylvania. Helen heard of him through Mr. J. G. Brown of Pittsburgh, who wrote her that he had failed to secure a tutor for Tommy. She wanted him brought to Boston, and when she was told that money would be needed to get him a teacher, she answered, "We will raise it." She began to solicit contributions from her friends, and saved her pennies.

Dr. Alexander Graham Bell advised Tommy's friends to send him to Boston, and the trustees of the Perkins Institution agreed to admit him to the kindergarten for the blind.

Meanwhile opportunity came to Helen to make a considerable contribution to Tommy's education. The winter before, her dog Lioness had been killed, and friends set to work to raise money to buy Helen another dog. Helen asked that the contributions, which people were sending from all over America and England, be devoted to Tommy's education. Turned to this new use, the fund grew fast, and Tommy was provided for. He was admitted to the kindergarten on the sixth of April.

Miss Keller wrote lately, "I shall never forget the pennies sent by many a poor child who could ill spare them, 'for little Tommy,' or the swift sympathy with which people from far and near, whom I had never seen, responded to the dumb cry of a little captive soul for aid."

TO MR. GEORGE R. KREHL Institution for the Blind, South Boston, Mass., March 20, 1891.

My Dear Friend, Mr. Krehl:--I have just heard, through Mr. Wade, of your kind offer to buy me a gentle dog, and I want to thank you for the kind thought. It makes me very happy indeed to know that I have such dear friends in other lands. It makes me think that all people are good and loving. I have read that the English and Americans are cousins; but I am sure it would be much truer to say that we are brothers and sisters. My friends have told me about your great and magnificent city, and I have read a great deal that wise Englishmen have written. I have begun to read "Enoch Arden," and I know several of the great poet's poems by heart. I am eager to cross the ocean, for I want to see my English friends and their good and wise queen. Once the Earl of Meath came to see me, and he told me that the queen was much beloved by her people, because of her gentleness and wisdom. Some day you will be surprised to see a little strange girl coming into your office; but when you know it is the little girl who loves dogs and all other animals, you will laugh, and I hope you will give her a kiss, just as Mr. Wade does. He has another dog for me, and he thinks she will be as brave and faithful as my beautiful Lioness. And now I want to tell you what the dog lovers in America are going to do. They are going to send me some money for a poor little deaf and dumb and blind child. His name is Tommy, and he is five years old. His parents are too poor to pay to have the little fellow sent to school; so, instead of giving me a dog, the gentlemen are going to help make Tommy's life as bright and joyous as mine. Is it not a beautiful plan? Education will bring light and music into Tommy's soul, and then he cannot help being happy. From your loving little friend, HELEN A. KELLER.

TO DR. OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES [South Boston, Mass., April, 1891.]

Dear Dr. Holmes:--Your beautiful words about spring have been making music in my heart, these bright April days. I love every word of "Spring" and "Spring Has Come." I think you will be glad to hear that these poems have taught me to enjoy and love the beautiful springtime, even though I cannot see the fair, frail blossoms which proclaim its approach, or hear the joyous warbling of the home-coming birds. But when I read "Spring Has Come," lo! I am not blind any longer, for I see with your eyes and hear with your ears. Sweet Mother Nature can have no secrets from me when my poet is near. I have chosen this paper because I want the spray of violets in the corner to tell you of my grateful love. I want you to see baby Tom, the little blind and deaf and dumb child who has just come to our pretty garden. He is poor and helpless and lonely now, but before another April education will have brought light and gladness into Tommy's life. If you do come, you will want to ask the kind people of Boston to help brighten Tommy's whole life. Your loving friend, HELEN KELLER.

TO SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS Perkins Institution for the Blind, South Boston, Mass., April 30, 1891.

My Dear Mr. Millais:--Your little American sister is going to write you a letter, because she wants you to know how pleased she was to hear you were interested in our poor little Tommy, and had sent some money to help educate him. It is very beautiful to think that people far away in England feel sorry for a little helpless child in America. I used to think, when I read in my books about your great city, that when I visited it the people would be strangers to me, but now I feel differently. It seems to me that all people who have loving, pitying hearts, are not strangers to each other. I can hardly wait patiently for the time to come when I shall see my dear English friends, and their beautiful island home. My favourite poet has written some lines about England which I love very much. I think you will like them too, so I will try to write them for you.

"Hugged in the clinging billow's clasp, From seaweed fringe to mountain heather, The British oak with rooted grasp Her slender handful holds together, With cliffs of white and bowers of green, And ocean narrowing to caress her, And hills and threaded streams between, Our little mother isle, God bless her!"

You will be glad to hear that Tommy has a kind lady to teach him, and that he is a pretty, active little fellow. He loves to climb much better than to spell, but that is because he does not know yet what a wonderful thing language is. He cannot imagine how very, very happy he will be when he can tell us his thoughts, and we can tell him how we have loved him so long.

Tomorrow April will hide her tears and blushes beneath the flowers of lovely May. I wonder if the May-days in England are as beautiful as they are here.

Now I must say good-bye. Please think of me always as your loving little sister, HELEN KELLER.

TO REV. PHILLIPS BROOKS So. Boston, May 1, 1891.

My Dear Mr. Brooks: Helen sends you a loving greeting this bright May-day. My teacher has just told me that you have been made a bishop, and that your friends everywhere are rejoicing because one whom they love has been greatly honored. I do not understand very well what a bishop's work is, but I am sure it must be good and helpful, and I am glad that my dear friend is brave, and wise, and loving enough to do it. It is very beautiful to think that you can tell so many people of the heavenly Father's tender love for all His children even when they are not gentle and noble as He wishes them to be. I hope the glad news which you will tell them will make their hearts beat fast with joy and love. I hope too, that Bishop Brooks' whole life will be as rich in happiness as the month of May is full of blossoms and singing birds. From your loving little friend, HELEN KELLER.

Before a teacher was found for Tommy and while he was still in the care of Helen and Miss Sullivan, a reception was held for him at the kindergarten. At Helen's request Bishop Brooks made an address. Helen wrote letters to the newspapers which brought many generous replies. All of these she answered herself, and she made public acknowledgment in letters to the newspapers. This letter is to the editor of the Boston Herald, enclosing a complete list of the subscribers. The contributions amounted to more than sixteen hundred dollars.

TO MR. JOHN H. HOLMES South Boston, May 13, 1891. Editor of the Boston Herald: My Dear Mr. Holmes:--Will you kindly print in the Herald, the enclosed list? I think the readers of your paper will be glad to know that so much has been done for dear little Tommy, and that they will all wish to share in the pleasure of helping him. He is very happy indeed at the kindergarten, and is learning something every day. He has found out that doors have locks, and that little sticks and bits of paper can be got into the key-hole quite easily; but he does not seem very eager to get them out after they are in. He loves to climb the bed-posts and unscrew the steam valves much better than to spell, but that is because he does not understand that words would help him to make new and interesting discoveries. I hope that good people will continue to work for Tommy until his fund is completed, and education has brought light and music into his little life. From your little friend, HELEN KELLER.

TO DR. OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES South Boston, May 27, 1891. Dear, Gentle Poet:--I fear that you will think Helen a very troublesome little girl if she writes to you too often; but how is she to help sending you loving and grateful messages, when you do so much to make her glad? I cannot begin to tell you how delighted I was when Mr. Anagnos told me that you had sent him some money to help educate "Baby Tom." Then I knew that you had not forgotten the dear little child, for the gift brought with it the thought of tender sympathy. I am very sorry to say that Tommy has not learned any words yet. He is the same restless little creature he was when you saw him. But it is pleasant to think that he is happy and playful in his bright new home, and by and by that strange, wonderful thing teacher calls MIND, will begin to spread its beautiful wings and fly away in search of knowledge-land. Words are the mind's wings, are they not?

I have been to Andover since I saw you, and I was greatly interested in all that my friends told me about Phillips Academy, because I knew you had been there, and I felt it was a place dear to you. I tried to imagine my gentle poet when he was a school-boy, and I wondered if it was in Andover he learned the songs of the birds and the secrets of the shy little woodland children. I am sure his heart was always full of music, and in God's beautiful world he must have heard love's sweet replying. When I came home teacher read to me "The School-boy," for it is not in our print.

Did you know that the blind children are going to have their commencement exercises in Tremont Temple, next Tuesday afternoon? I enclose a ticket, hoping that you will come. We shall all be proud and happy to welcome our poet friend. I shall recite about the beautiful cities of sunny Italy. I hope our kind friend Dr. Ellis will come too, and take Tom in his arms.

With much love and a kiss, from your little friend, HELEN A. KELLER.

TO REV. PHILLIPS BROOKS South Boston, June 8, 1891. My dear Mr. Brooks, I send you my picture as I promised, and I hope when you look at it this summer your thoughts will fly southward to your happy little friend. I used to wish that I could see pictures with my hands as I do statues, but now I do not often think about it because my dear Father has filled my mind with beautiful pictures, even of things I cannot see. If the light were not in your eyes, dear Mr. Brooks, you would understand better how happy your little Helen was when her teacher explained to her that the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart. Every day I find out something which makes me glad. Yesterday I thought for the first time what a beautiful thing motion was, and it seemed to me that everything was trying to get near to God, does it seem that way to you? It is Sunday morning, and while I sit here in the library writing this letter you are teaching hundreds of people some of the grand and beautiful things about their heavenly Father. Are you not very, very happy? and when you are a Bishop you will preach to more people and more and more will be made glad. Teacher sends her kind remembrances, and I send you with my picture my dear love. From your little friend HELEN KELLER.

When the Perkins Institution closed in June, Helen and her teacher went south to Tuscumbia, where they remained until December. There is a hiatus of several months in the letters, caused by the depressing effect on Helen and Miss Sullivan of the "Frost King" episode. At the time this trouble seemed very grave and brought them much unhappiness. An analysis of the case has been made elsewhere, and Miss Keller has written her account of it.

TO MR. ALBERT H. MUNSELL Brewster, Mar. 10, 1892. My dear Mr. Munsell, Surely I need not tell you that your letter was very welcome. I enjoyed every word of it and wished that it was longer. I laughed when you spoke of old Neptune's wild moods. He has, in truth, behaved very strangely ever since we came to Brewster. It is evident that something has displeased his Majesty but I cannot imagine what it can be. His expression has been so turbulent that I have feared to give him your kind message. Who knows! Perhaps the Old Sea God as he lay asleep upon the shore, heard the soft music of growing things--the stir of life in the earth's bosom, and his stormy heart was angry, because he knew that his and Winter's reign was almost at an end. So together the unhappy monarch[s] fought most despairingly, thinking that gentle Spring would turn and fly at the very sight of the havoc caused by their forces. But lo! the lovely maiden only smiles more sweetly, and breathes upon the icy battlements of her enemies, and in a moment they vanish, and the glad Earth gives her a royal welcome. But I must put away these idle fancies until we meet again. Please give your dear mother my love. Teacher wishes me to say that she liked the photograph very much and she will see about having some when we return. Now, dear friend, Please accept these few words because of the love that is linked with them. Lovingly yours HELEN KELLER.

This letter was reproduced in facsimile in St. Nicholas, June, 1892. It is undated, but must have been written two or three months before it was published.

To St. Nicholas Dear St. Nicholas:

It gives me very great pleasure to send you my autograph because I want the boys and girls who read St. Nicholas to know how blind children write. I suppose some of them wonder how we keep the lines so straight so I will try to tell them how it is done. We have a grooved board which we put between the pages when we wish to write. The parallel grooves correspond to lines and when we have pressed the paper into them by means of the blunt end of the pencil it is very easy to keep the words even. The small letters are all made in the grooves, while the long ones extend above and below them. We guide the pencil with the right hand, and feel carefully with the forefinger of the left hand to see that we shape and space the letters correctly. It is very difficult at first to form them plainly, but if we keep on trying it gradually becomes easier, and after a great deal of practice we can write legible letters to our friends. Then we are very, very happy. Sometime they may visit a school for the blind. If they do, I am sure they will wish to see the pupils write. Very sincerely your little friend HELEN KELLER.

In May, 1892, Helen gave a tea in aid of the kindergarten for the blind. It was quite her own idea, and was given in the house of Mrs. Mahlon D. Spaulding, sister of Mr. John P. Spaulding, one of Helen's kindest and most liberal friends. The tea brought more than two thousand dollars for the blind children.

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY South Boston, May 9, 1892. My dear Miss Carrie:--I was much pleased to receive your kind letter. Need I tell you that I was more than delighted to hear that you are really interested in the "tea"? Of course we must not give it up. Very soon I am going far away, to my own dear home, in the sunny south, and it would always make me happy to think that the last thing which my dear friends in Boston did for my pleasure was to help make the lives of many little sightless children good and happy. I know that kind people cannot help feeling a tender sympathy for the little ones, who cannot see the beautiful light, or any of the wonderful things which give them pleasure; and it seems to me that all loving sympathy must express itself in acts of kindness; and when the friends of little helpless blind children understand that we are working for their happiness, they will come and make our "tea" a success, and I am sure I shall be the happiest little girl in all the world. Please let Bishop Brooks know our plans, so that he may arrange to be with us. I am glad Miss Eleanor is interested. Please give her my love. I will see you to-morrow and then we can make the rest of our plans. Please give your dear aunt teacher's and my love and tell her that we enjoyed our little visit very much indeed. Lovingly yours, HELEN KELLER.

TO MR. JOHN P. SPAULDING South Boston, May 11th, 1892. My dear Mr. Spaulding:--I am afraid you will think your little friend, Helen, very troublesome when you read this letter; but I am sure you will not blame me when I tell you that I am very anxious about something. You remember teacher and I told you Sunday that I wanted to have a little tea in aid of the kindergarten. We thought everything was arranged: but we found Monday that Mrs. Elliott would not be willing to let us invite more than fifty people, because Mrs. Howe's house is quite small. I am sure that a great many people would like to come to the tea, and help me do something to brighten the lives of little blind children; but some of my friends say that I shall have to give up the idea of having a tea unless we can find another house. Teacher said yesterday, that perhaps Mrs. Spaulding would be willing to let us have her beautiful house, and [I] thought I would ask you about it. Do you think Mrs. Spaulding would help me, if I wrote to her? I shall be so disappointed if my little plans fail, because I have wanted for a long time to do something for the poor little ones who are waiting to enter the kindergarten. Please let me know what you think about the house, and try to forgive me for troubling you so much. Lovingly your little friend, HELEN KELLER.

TO MR. EDWARD H. CLEMENT South Boston, May 18th, 1892. My dear Mr. Clement:--I am going to write to you this beautiful morning because my heart is brimful of happiness and I want you and all my dear friends in the Transcript office to rejoice with me. The preparations for my tea are nearly completed, and I am looking forward joyfully to the event. I know I shall not fail. Kind people will not disappoint me, when they know that I plead for helpless little children who live in darkness and ignorance. They will come to my tea and buy light,--the beautiful light of knowledge and love for many little ones who are blind and friendless. I remember perfectly when my dear teacher came to me. Then I was like the little blind children who are waiting to enter the kindergarten. There was no light in my soul. This wonderful world with all its sunlight and beauty was hidden from me, and I had never dreamed of its loveliness. But teacher came to me and taught my little fingers to use the beautiful key that has unlocked the door of my dark prison and set my spirit free.

It is my earnest wish to share my happiness with others, and I ask the kind people of Boston to help me make the lives of little blind children brighter and happier. Lovingly your little friend, HELEN KELLER.

At the end of June Miss Sullivan and Helen went home to Tuscumbia.

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY Tuscumbia, Alabama, July 9th 1892.

My dear Carrie--You are to look upon it as a most positive proof of my love that I write to you to-day. For a whole week it has been "cold and dark and dreary" in Tuscumbia, and I must confess the continuous rain and dismalness of the weather fills me with gloomy thoughts and makes the writing of letters, or any pleasant employment, seem quite impossible. Nevertheless, I must tell you that we are alive,--that we reached home safely, and that we speak of you daily, and enjoy your interesting letters very much. I had a beautiful visit at Hulton. Everything was fresh and spring-like, and we stayed out of doors all day. We even ate our breakfast out on the piazza. Sometimes we sat in the hammock, and teacher read to me. I rode horseback nearly every evening and once I rode five miles at a fast gallop. O, it was great fun! Do you like to ride? I have a very pretty little cart now, and if it ever stops raining teacher and I are going to drive every evening. And I have another beautiful Mastiff- the largest one I ever saw--and he will go along to protect us. His name is Eumer. A queer name, is it not? I think it is Saxon. We expect to go to the mountains next week. My little brother, Phillips, is not well, and we think the clear mountain air will benefit him. Mildred is a sweet little sister and I am sure you would love her. I thank you very much for your photograph. I like to have my friends' pictures even though I cannot see them. I was greatly amused at the idea of your writing the square hand. I do not write on a Braille tablet, as you suppose, but on a grooved board like the piece which I enclose. You could not read Braille; for it is written in dots, not at all like ordinary letters. Please give my love to Miss Derby and tell her that I hope she gave my sweetest love to Baby Ruth. What was the book you sent me for my birthday? I received several, and I do not know which was from you. I had one gift which especially pleased me. It was a lovely cape crocheted, for me, by an old gentleman, seventy-five years of age. And every stitch, he writes, represents a kind wish for my health and happiness. Tell your little cousins I think they had better get upon the fence with me until after the election; for there are so many parties and candidates that I doubt if such youthful politicians would make a wise selection. Please give my love to Rosy when you write, and believe me, Your loving friend HELEN KELLER. P.S. How do you like this type-written letter? H. K.

TO MRS. GROVER CLEVELAND My dear Mrs. Cleveland, I am going to write you a little letter this beautiful morning because I love you and dear little Ruth very much indeed, and also because I wish to thank you for the loving message which you sent me through Miss Derby. I am glad, very glad that such a kind, beautiful lady loves me. I have loved you for a long time, but I did not think you had ever heard of me until your sweet message came. Please kiss your dear little baby for me, and tell her I have a little brother nearly sixteen months old. His name is Phillips Brooks. I named him myself after my dear friend Phillips Brooks. I send you with this letter a pretty book which my teacher thinks will interest you, and my picture. Please accept them with the love and good wishes of your friend, HELEN KELLER. Tuscumbia, Alabama. November fourth. [1892.]

Hitherto the letters have been given in full; from this point on passages are omitted and the omissions are indicated.

 

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