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TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY New York, December 29, 1895. ...Teacher and I have been very gay of late. We have seen our kind friends, Mrs. Dodge, Mr. and Mrs. Hutton, Mrs. Riggs and her husband, and met many distinguished people, among whom were Miss Ellen Terry, Sir Henry Irving and Mr. Stockton! Weren't we very fortunate? Miss Terry was lovely. She kissed Teacher and said, "I do not know whether I am glad to see you or not; for I feel so ashamed of myself when I think of how much you have done for the little girl." We also met Mr. and Mrs. Terry, Miss Terry's brother and his wife. I thought her beauty angellic, and oh, what a clear, beautiful voice she had! We saw Miss Terry again with Sir Henry in "King Charles the First," a week ago last Friday, and after the play they kindly let me feel of them and get an idea of how they looked. How noble and kingly the King was, especially in his misfortunes! And how pretty and faithful the poor Queen was! The play seemed so real, we almost forgot where we were, and believed we were watching the genuine scenes as they were acted so long ago. The last act affected us most deeply, and we all wept, wondering how the executioner could have the heart to tear the King from his loving wife's arms.

I have just finished reading "Ivanhoe." It was very exciting; but I must say I did not enjoy it very much. Sweet Rebecca, with her strong, brave spirit, and her pure, generous nature, was the only character which thoroughly won my admiration. Now I am reading "Stories from Scottish History," and they are very thrilling and absorbing!...

The next two letters were written just after the death of Mr. John P. Spaulding.

TO MRS. GEORGE H. BRADFORD New York, February 4, 1896. What can I say which will make you understand how much Teacher and I appreciate your thoughtful kindness in sending us those little souvenirs of the dear room where we first met the best and kindest of friends? Indeed, you can never know all the comfort you have given us. We have put the dear picture on the mantel-piece in our room where we can see it every day, and I often go and touch it, and somehow I cannot help feeling that our beloved friend is very near to me.... It was very hard to take up our school work again, as if nothing had happened; but I am sure it is well that we have duties which must be done, and which take our minds away for a time at least from our sorrow....

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY New York, March 2nd, 1896. ...We miss dear King John sadly. It was so hard to lose him, he was the best and kindest of friends, and I do not know what we shall do without him....

We went to a poultry-show... and the man there kindly permitted us to feel of the birds. They were so tame, they stood perfectly still when I handled them. I saw great big turkeys, geese, guineas, ducks and many others.

Almost two weeks ago we called at Mr. Hutton's and had a delightful time. We always do! We met Mr. Warner, the writer, Mr. Mabie, the editor of the Outlook and other pleasant people. I am sure you would like to know Mr. and Mrs. Hutton, they are so kind and interesting. I can never tell you how much pleasure they have given us.

Mr. Warner and Mr. Burroughs, the great lover of nature, came to see us a few days after, and we had a delightful talk with them. They were both very, very dear! Mr. Burroughs told me about his home near the Hudson, and what a happy place it must be! I hope we shall visit it some day. Teacher has read me his lively stories about his boyhood, and I enjoyed them greatly. Have you read the beautiful poem, "Waiting"? I know it, and it makes me feel so happy, it has such sweet thoughts. Mr. Warner showed me a scarf-pin with a beetle on it which was made in Egypt fifteen hundred years before Christ, and told me that the beetle meant immortality to the Egyptians because it wrapped itself up and went to sleep and came out again in a new form, thus renewing itself.

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY New York, April 25, 1896. ...My studies are the same as they were when I saw you, except that I have taken up French with a French teacher who comes three times a week. I read her lips almost exclusively, (she does not know the manual alphabet) and we get on quite well. I have read "Le Medecin Malgre Lui," a very good French comedy by Moliere, with pleasure; and they say I speak French pretty well now, and German also. Anyway, French and German people understand what I am trying to say, and that is very encouraging. In voice-training I have still the same old difficulties to contend against; and the fulfilment of my wish to speak well seems O, so far away! Sometimes I feel sure that I catch a faint glimpse of the goal I am striving for, but in another minute a bend in the road hides it from my view, and I am again left wandering in the dark! But I try hard not to be discouraged. Surely we shall all find at last the ideals we are seeking....

TO MR. JOHN HITZ Brewster, Mass. July 15, 1896. ...As to the book, I am sure I shall enjoy it very much when I am admitted, by the magic of Teacher's dear fingers, into the companionship of the two sisters who went to the Immortal Fountain.

As I sit by the window writing to you, it is so lovely to have the soft, cool breezes fan my cheek and to feel that the hard work of last year is over! Teacher seems to feel benefitted by the change too; for she is already beginning to look like her dear old self. We only need you, dear Mr. Hitz, to complete our happiness. Teacher and Mrs. Hopkins both say you must come as soon as you can! We will try to make you comfortable.

Teacher and I spent nine days at Philadelphia. Have you ever been at Dr. Crouter's Institution? Mr. Howes has probably given you a full account of our doings. We were busy all the time; we attended the meetings and talked with hundreds of people, among whom were dear Dr. Bell, Mr. Banerji of Calcutta, Monsieur Magnat of Paris with whom I conversed in French exclusively, and many other distinguished persons. We had looked forward to seeing you there, and so we were greatly disappointed that you did not come. We think of you so, so often! and our hearts go out to you in tenderest sympathy; and you know better than this poor letter can tell you how happy we always are to have you with us! I made a "speech" on July eighth, telling the members of the Association what an unspeakable blessing speech has been to me, and urging them to give every little deaf child an opportunity to learn to speak. Every one said I spoke very well and intelligibly. After my little "speech," we attended a reception at which over six hundred people were present. I must confess I do not like such large receptions; the people crowd so, and we have to do so much talking; and yet it is at receptions like the one in Philadelphia that we often meet friends whom we learn to love afterwards. We left the city last Thursday night, and arrived in Brewster Friday afternoon. We missed the Cape Cod train Friday morning, and so we came down to Provincetown in the steamer Longfellow. I am glad we did so; for it was lovely and cool on the water, and Boston Harbor is always interesting.

We spent about three weeks in Boston, after leaving New York, and I need not tell you we had a most delightful time. We visited our good friends, Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlin, at Wrentham, out in the country, where they have a lovely home. Their house stands near a charming lake where we went boating and canoeing, which was great fun. We also went in bathing several times. Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlin celebrated the 17th of June by giving a picnic to their literary friends. There were about forty persons present, all of whom were writers and publishers. Our friend, Mr. Alden, the editor of Harper's was there, and of course we enjoyed his society very much....

TO CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER Brewster, Mass., September 3, 1896. ...I have been meaning to write to you all summer; there were many things I wanted to tell you, and I thought perhaps you would like to hear about our vacation by the seaside, and our plans for next year; but the happy, idle days slipped away so quickly, and there were so many pleasant things to do every moment, that I never found time to clothe my thought in words, and send them to you. I wonder what becomes of lost opportunities. Perhaps our guardian angel gathers them up as we drop them, and will give them back to us in the beautiful sometime when we have grown wiser, and learned how to use them rightly. But, however this may be, I cannot now write the letter which has lain in my thought for you so long. My heart is too full of sadness to dwell upon the happiness the summer has brought me. My father is dead. He died last Saturday at my home in Tuscumbia, and I was not there. My own dear loving father! Oh, dear friend, how shall I ever bear it!...

On the first of October Miss Keller entered the Cambridge School for Young Ladies, of which Mr. Arthur Gilman is Principal. The "examinations" mentioned in this letter were merely tests given in the school, but as they were old Harvard papers, it is evident that in some subjects Miss Keller was already fairly well prepared for Radcliffe.

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON 37 Concord Avenue, Cambridge, Mass. October 8, 1896. ...I got up early this morning, so that I could write you a few lines. I know you want to hear how I like my school. I do wish you could come and see for yourself what a beautiful school it is! There are about a hundred girls, and they are all so bright and happy; it is a joy to be with them.

You will be glad to hear that I passed my examinations successfully. I have been examined in English, German, French, and Greek and Roman history. They were the entrance examinations for Harvard College; so I feel pleased to think I could pass them. This year is going to be a very busy one for Teacher and myself. I am studying Arithmetic, English Literature, English History, German, Latin, and advanced geography; there is a great deal of preparatory reading required, and, as few of the books are in raised print, poor Teacher has to spell them all out to me; and that means hard work.

You must tell Mr. Howells when you see him, that we are living in his house....

TO MRS. WILLIAM THAW 37 Concord Avenue, Cambridge, Mass., December 2, 1896. ...It takes me a long time to prepare my lessons, because I have to have every word of them spelled out in my hand. Not one of the textbooks which I am obliged to use is in raised print; so of course my work is harder than it would be if I could read my lessons over by myself. But it is harder for Teacher than it is for me because the strain on her poor eyes is so great, and I cannot help worrying about them. Sometimes it really seems as if the task which we have set ourselves were more than we can accomplish; but at other times I enjoy my work more than I can say.

It is such a delight to be with the other girls, and do everything that they do. I study Latin, German, Arithmetic and English History, all of which I enjoy except Arithmetic. I am afraid I have not a mathematical mind; for my figures always manage to get into the wrong places!...

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON Cambridge, Mass., May 3, 1897. ...You know I am trying very hard to get through with the reading for the examinations in June, and this, in addition to my regular schoolwork keeps me awfully busy. But Johnson, and "The Plague" and everything else must wait a few minutes this afternoon, while I say, thank you, my dear Mrs. Hutton....

...What a splendid time we had at the "Players' Club." I always thought clubs were dull, smoky places, where men talked politics, and told endless stories, all about themselves and their wonderful exploits: but now I see, I must have been quite wrong....

TO MR. JOHN HITZ Wrentham, Mass. July 9, 1897. ...Teacher and I are going to spend the summer at Wrentham, Mass. with our friends, the Chamberlins. I think you remember Mr. Chamberlin, the "Listener" in the Boston Transcript. They are dear, kind people....

But I know you want to hear about my examinations. I know that you will be glad to hear that I passed all of them successfully. The subjects I offered were elementary and advanced German, French, Latin, English, and Greek and Roman History. It seems almost too good to be true, does it not? All the time I was preparing for the great ordeal, I could not suppress an inward fear and trembling lest I should fail, and now it is an unspeakable relief to know that I have passed the examinations with credit. But what I consider my crown of success is the happiness and pleasure that my victory has brought dear Teacher. Indeed, I feel that the success is hers more than mine; for she is my constant inspiration....

At the end of September Miss Sullivan and Miss Keller returned to the Cambridge School, where they remained until early in December. Then the interference of Mr. Gilman resulted in Mrs. Keller's withdrawing Miss Helen and her sister, Miss Mildred, from the school. Miss Sullivan and her pupil went to Wrentham, where they worked under Mr. Merton S. Keith, an enthusiastic and skilful teacher.

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON Wrentham, February 20, 1898. ...I resumed my studies soon after your departure, and in a very little while we were working as merrily as if the dreadful experience of a month ago had been but a dream. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy the country. It is so fresh, and peaceful and free! I do think I could work all day long without feeling tired if they would let me. There are so many pleasant things to do--not always very easy things,--much of my work in Algebra and Geometry is hard: but I love it all, especially Greek. Just think, I shall soon finish my grammar! Then comes the "Iliad." What an inexpressible joy it will be to read about Achilles, and Ulysses, and Andromache and Athene, and the rest of my old friends in their own glorious language! I think Greek is the loveliest language that I know anything about. If it is true that the violin is the most perfect of musical instruments, then Greek is the violin of human thought.

We have had some splendid toboganning this month. Every morning, before lesson-time, we all go out to the steep hill on the northern shore of the lake near the house, and coast for an hour or so. Some one balances the toboggan on the very crest of the hill, while we get on, and when we are ready, off we dash down the side of the hill in a headlong rush, and, leaping a projection, plunge into a snow-drift and go swimming far across the pond at a tremendous rate!...

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON [Wrentham] April 12, 1898. ...I am glad Mr. Keith is so well pleased with my progress. It is true that Algebra and Geometry are growing easier all the time, especially algebra; and I have just received books in raised print which will greatly facilitate my work....

I find I get on faster, and do better work with Mr. Keith than I did in the classes at the Cambridge School, and I think it was well that I gave up that kind of work. At any rate, I have not been idle since I left school; I have accomplished more, and been happier than I could have been there....

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON [Wrentham] May 29, 1898. ...My work goes on bravely. Each day is filled to the brim with hard study; for I am anxious to accomplish as much as possible before I put away my books for the summer vacation. You will be pleased to hear that I did three problems in Geometry yesterday without assistance. Mr. Keith and Teacher were quite enthusiastic over the achievement, and I must confess, I felt somewhat elated myself. Now I feel as if I should succeed in doing something in mathematics, although I cannot see why it is so very important to know that the lines drawn from the extremities of the base of an isosceles triangle to the middle points of the opposite sides are equal! The knowledge doesn't make life any sweeter or happier, does it? On the other hand, when we learn a new word, it is the key to untold treasures....

TO CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER Wrentham, Mass., June 7, 1898. I am afraid you will conclude that I am not very anxious for a tandem after all, since I have let nearly a week pass without answering your letter in regard to the kind of wheel I should like. But really, I have been so constantly occupied with my studies since we returned from New York, that I have not had time even to think of the fun it would be to have a bicycle! You see, I am anxious to accomplish as much as possible before the long summer vacation begins. I am glad, though, that it is nearly time to put away my books; for the sunshine and flowers, and the lovely lake in front of our house are doing their best to tempt me away from my Greek and Mathematics, especially from the latter! I am sure the daisies and buttercups have as little use for the science of Geometry as I, in spite of the fact that they so beautifully illustrate its principles.

But bless me, I mustn't forget the tandem! The truth is, I know very little about bicycles. I have only ridden a "sociable," which is very different from the ordinary tandem. The "sociable" is safer, perhaps, than the tandem; but it is very heavy and awkward, and has a way of taking up the greater part of the road. Besides, I have been told that "sociables" cost more than other kinds of bicycles. My teacher and other friends think I could ride a Columbia tandem in the country with perfect safety. They also think your suggestion about a fixed handlebar a good one. I ride with a divided skirt, and so does my teacher; but it would be easier for her to mount a man's wheel than for me; so, if it could be arranged to have the ladies' seat behind, I think it would be better....

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY Wrentham, September 11, 1898. ...I am out of doors all the time, rowing, swimming, riding and doing a multitude of other pleasant things. This morning I rode over twelve miles on my tandem! I rode on a rough road, and fell off three or four times, and am now awfully lame! But the weather and the scenery were so beautiful, and it was such fun to go scooting over the smoother part of the road, I didn't mind the mishaps in the least.

I have really learned to swim and dive--after a fashion! I can swim a little under water, and do almost anything I like, without fear of getting drowned! Isn't that fine? It is almost no effort for me to row around the lake, no matter how heavy the load may be. So you can well imagine how strong and brown I am....

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON 12 Newbury Street, Boston, October 23, 1898. This is the first opportunity I have had to write to you since we came here last Monday. We have been in such a whirl ever since we decided to come to Boston; it seemed as if we should never get settled. Poor Teacher has had her hands full, attending to movers, and express-men, and all sorts of people. I wish it were not such a bother to move, especially as we have to do it so often!...

...Mr. Keith comes here at half past three every day except Saturday. He says he prefers to come here for the present. I am reading the "Iliad," and the "Aeneid" and Cicero, besides doing a lot in Geometry and Algebra. The "Iliad" is beautiful with all the truth, and grace and simplicity of a wonderfully childlike people while the "Aeneid" is more stately and reserved. It is like a beautiful maiden, who always lived in a palace, surrounded by a magnificent court; while the "Iliad" is like a splendid youth, who has had the earth for his playground.

The weather has been awfully dismal all the week; but to-day is beautiful, and our room floor is flooded with sunlight. By and by we shall take a little walk in the Public Gardens. I wish the Wrentham woods were round the corner! But alas! they are not, and I shall have to content myself with a stroll in the Gardens. Somehow, after the great fields and pastures and lofty pine-groves of the country, they seem shut-in and conventional. Even the trees seem citified and self-conscious. Indeed, I doubt if they are on speaking terms with their country cousins! Do you know, I cannot help feeling sorry for these trees with all their fashionable airs? They are like the people whom they see every day, who prefer the crowded, noisy city to the quiet and freedom of the country. They do not even suspect how circumscribed their lives are. They look down pityingly on the country-folk, who have never had an opportunity "to see the great world." Oh my! if they only realized their limitations, they would flee for their lives to the woods and fields. But what nonsense is this! You will think I'm pining away for my beloved Wrentham, which is true in one sense and not in another. I do miss Red Farm and the dear ones there dreadfully; but I am not unhappy. I have Teacher and my books, and I have the certainty that something sweet and good will come to me in this great city, where human beings struggle so bravely all their lives to wring happiness from cruel circumstances. Anyway, I am glad to have my share in life, whether it be bright or sad....

TO MRS. WILLIAM THAW Boston, December 6th, 1898. My teacher and I had a good laugh over the girls' frolic. How funny they must have looked in their "rough-rider" costumes, mounted upon their fiery steeds! "Slim" would describe them, if they were anything like the saw-horses I have seen. What jolly times they must have at --! I cannot help wishing sometimes that I could have some of the fun that other girls have. How quickly I should lock up all these mighty warriors, and hoary sages, and impossible heroes, who are now almost my only companions; and dance and sing and frolic like other girls! But I must not waste my time wishing idle wishes; and after all my ancient friends are very wise and interesting, and I usually enjoy their society very much indeed. It is only once in a great while that I feel discontented, and allow myself to wish for things I cannot hope for in this life. But, as you know, my heart is usually brimful of happiness. The thought that my dear Heavenly Father is always near, giving me abundantly of all those things, which truly enrich life and make it sweet and beautiful, makes every deprivation seem of little moment compared with the countless blessings I enjoy.

TO MRS. WILLIAM THAW 12 Newbury Street, Boston, December 19th, 1898. ...I realize now what a selfish, greedy girl I was to ask that my cup of happiness should be filled to overflowing, without stopping to think how many other people's cups were quite empty. I feel heartily ashamed of my thoughtlessness. One of the childish illusions, which it has been hardest for me to get rid of, is that we have only to make our wishes known in order to have them granted. But I am slowly learning that there is not happiness enough in the world for everyone to have all that he wants; and it grieves me to think that I should have forgotten, even for a moment, that I already have more than my share, and that like poor little Oliver Twist I should have asked for "more."...

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON 12 Newberry Street, Boston. December 22, [1898] ...I suppose Mr. Keith writes you the work-a-day news. If so, you know that I have finished all the geometry, and nearly all the Algebra required for the Harvard examinations, and after Christmas I shall begin a very careful review of both subjects. You will be glad to hear that I enjoy Mathematics now. Why, I can do long, complicated quadratic equations in my head quite easily, and it is great fun! I think Mr. Keith is a wonderful teacher, and I feel very grateful to him for having made me see the beauty of Mathematics. Next to my own dear teacher, he has done more than any one else to enrich and broaden my mind.

 

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