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breathes and throbs with life. Every object is associated in my mind with tactual? qualities which, combined in countless ways, give me a sense of power, of beauty, or of incongruity: for with my hands I can feel the comic as well as the beautiful in the outward appearance of things. Remember that you, dependent on your sight, do not realize how many things are tangible. All palpable things are mobile or rigid, solid or liquid, big or small, warm or cold, and these qualities are variously modified. The coolness of a water lily rounding into bloom is different from the coolness of an evening wind in summer, and different again from the coolness of the rain that soaks into the hearts of growing things and gives them life and body. The velvet of a rose is not that of a ripe peach or of a baby's dimpled cheek. The hardness of the rock is to the hardness of the wood what a man's deep bass is to a woman's voice when it is low. What I call beauty I find in certain combinations of all these qualities, and is largely derived from the flow of curved and straight lines which is over all things.
When I think of hills, I think of the upward strength I tread upon. When water is the object of my thought, I feel the cool shock of the plunge and the quick yielding of the waves that crisp and curl and ripple about my body. The pleasing changes of rough and smooth, pliant and rigid, curved and straight, in the bark and branches of a tree give the truth to my hand. The immovable rock, with all its juts and warped surface, bends beneath my fingers into all manner of grooves and hollows. The bulge of a watermelon and the puffed-up rotundities of squashes that sprout, bud, and ripen in that strange garden planted somewhere behind my fingertips are the ludicrous in my tactual memory and imagination. My fingers are tickled to delight by the soft ripple of a baby's laugh, and find amusement in the lusty
1 Relating to touch.
crow of the barnyard autocrat. Once I had a pet rooster that used to perch on my knee and stretch his neck and crow. A bird in my hand was then worth two in the — barnyard.
My fingers cannot, of course, get the impression of a large whole at a glance; but I feel the parts and my mind puts them together. I move around my house, touching object after object in order, before I can form an idea of the entire house. In other people's houses I can touch only what is shown me — the chief objects of interest, carvings on the wall, or a curious architectural feature, exhibited like the family album. Therefore a house with which I am not familiar has for me, at first, no general effect or harmony of detail. It is not a complete conception, but a collection of object-impressions which, as they come to me, are disconnected and isolated. But my mind is full of associations, sensations, theories, and with them it constructs the house. The process reminds me of the building of Solomon's Temple, where was neither saw, nor hammer, nor any tool heard while the stones were being laid one upon another. The silent worker is imagination which decrees reality out of chaos.
Study the spelling and meaning of these words:
lose, lost, lost
How does Helen Keller's dog show his love for her? Has your dog any senses that are keener than yours? How many senses does Helen Keller's sense of touch replace? Read carefully her illustrations of this. Try to put yourself in her place as you read. Upon what sense do deaf people sometimes learn to depend? It is said that the blind are happier than the deaf. Can you give any reasons for this? Do we take as much
pains to make the deaf happy? Does Helen Keller think she should be pitied? How do we learn to know the world all about us? What passages in this do you think beautiful? Is the title appropriate?
SUGGESTIONS FOR ORAL AND WRITTEN ENGLISH
Blindfold yourself and try (a) to find out what some objects are by the sense of touch; (b) to find your way to the door of your room; (c) to see if you can recognize a friend by passing your hand over his face.
Write your experiences. If you know any one who is blind, or deaf, or has lost the use of a limb, watch him for a short while, and see how often he has learned bravely to overcome his disability. Do you know of any people who have succeeded in spite of their handicap? Bring incidents to the class. Express in your own words what Helen Keller says in paragraphs three and four, and in the last paragraph.
SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDITIONAL READINGS
THE THREE STRANGERS
Thomas Hardy (1840 ) was born in the little town of Bockhampton, in the southern part of England. Though educated to be an architect, he preferred to be a writer. He returned after many years to his birthplace, to follow his literary pursuits. His well-known Wessex Tales, from which The Three Strangers is taken, describes the life of the country around his birthplace. See also:
Halleck's New English Literature, pp. 529-533, 584.
AMONG the few features of agricultural England which retain an appearance but little modified by the lapse of centuries, may be reckoned the high, grassy, and furzy downs, coombs, or ewe-leases, as thy are indifferently called, that fill a large area of certain couricies in the south and southwest. If any mark of human occupation is met with hereon it usually takes the form of the solitary cottage of some shepherd.
Fifty years ago such a lonely cottage stood on such a down, and may possibly be standing there now. In spite of its loneliness, however, the spot, by actual measurement, was not more than five miles from a county town.
Higher Crowstairs, as the house was called, stood quite detached and undefended. The only reason for its precise situation seemed to be the crossing of two footpaths at right angles hard by, which may have crossed there and thus for a good five hundred years. Hence the house was exposed to the elements on all sides. When the shepherd and his
family who tenanted the house were pitied for their sufferings from the exposure, they said that upon the whole they were less inconvenienced by "wuzzes and flames” (hoarses and phlegms) than when they had lived by the stream of a snug neighboring valley.
The night of March 28, 182–, was precisely one of the nights that were wont to call forth these expressions of commiseration. The level rainstorm smote walls, slopes, and hedges like the clothyard shafts of Senlac 1 and Crécy. Such sheep and outdoor animals as had no shelter stood with their buttocks to the winds; while the tails of little birds trying to roost on some scraggy thorn were blown inside out like umbrellas. The gable end of the cottage was stained with wet, and the eavesdropping flapped against the wall. Yet never was commiseration for the shepherd more misplaced, for that cheerful rustic was entertaining a large party in glorification of the christening of his second girl.
The guests had arrived before the rain began to fall, and they were all now assembled in the chief, or living, room of the dwelling. A glance into the apartment at eight o'clock on this eventful evening would have resulted in the opinion that it was as cozy and comfortable a nook as could be wished for in boisterous weather. The calling of its inhabitant was proclaimed by a number of highly polished sheepcrooks without stems that were hung ornamentally over the fireplace, the curl of each shining crook varying from the antiquated type engraved in the patriarchal pictures of old family Bibles to the most approved fashion of the last local sheep fair. The room was lighted by half a dozen candles, having wicks only a trifle smaller than the grease
1 In the battle of Senlac, or Hastings (1066), William the Conqueror defeated Harold, the last of the Saxon kings of England, and established Norman supremacy in England. In the battle of Crécy (1346) Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III of England, won a victory over the French king against great odds. These battles were fiercely fought by archers whose "shafts fell as thick as rain.”