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"The Eyes of Max Carrados/Introduction"

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INTRODUCTION

IN offering a series of stories which continue the adventures of a group of characters already introduced to the reading public, a writer is inevitably at a certain disadvantage. In contriving their first appearance he has been able to select both the occasion and the moment which lend themselves most effectively to his plan. He has begun at the beginning—or, at least, at what, so far as you and he and the tale he has to tell are concerned, must be accepted as the beginning. Buttonholing you at the intersection of these three lines of destiny he has, in effect, exclaimed: My dear Reader! the very man I wished to see. I want to introduce rather a remarkable character to you—Max Carrados, whom you see approaching. You will notice that he is blind—quite blind; but so far from that crippling his interests in life or his energies, it has merely impelled him to develop those senses which in most of us lie half dormant and practically unused. Thus you will understand that while he may be at a disadvantage when you are at an advantage, he is at an advantage when you are at a disadvantage. The alert, slightly spoffish gentleman with the knowing look, who accompanies him, is his friend Carlyle. He has a private inquiry business now; formerly he was a solicitor, but . . . (here the voice becomes discreetly inaudible) . . . and having run up across Carrados again . . . And so on.

This is well enough once, but it should not be repeated. One cannot begin at the beginning twice. In any case, it does not dispose of an obvious dilemma: those among prospective readers who are acquainted with the first book do not need to be informed of the how, when and wherefore of Carrados and his associates; those who are not so acquainted (possibly even a larger class) do need to be informed, and may resent the omission. In the circumstances a word of explanation where it can conveniently be avoided seems to offer the least harmful course.

Max Carrados was published in the spring of 1914. It consisted of eight tales, each separate and complete in itself, but connected (as are the nine of the present volume) by the central figure of Carrados. The first story, "The Coin of Dionysius," cleared the necessary ground. Carlyle, a private inquiry agent, who has descended in the social scale owing to an irregularity—an indiscretion rather than a crime—is very desirous one evening of testing the genuineness of a certain rare and valuable Sicilian tetradrachm, for an immediate arrest depends. It is too late at night for him to get in touch with expert professional opinion, but finally he is referred to a certain gifted amateur, a Mr Max Carrados, who lives at Richmond. To Richmond he accordingly proceeds, and is at once recognised by Carrados as a former friend, Calling by name. The recognition is not at first mutual, for Carrados has also changed his name—he was formerly Max Wynn—in order to qualify for a considerable fortune, and he, like Carlyle, has altered in appearance with passing years. More to the point, he has become blind: "Literally . . . I was riding along a bridle-path through a wood about a dozen years ago with a friend. He was in front. At one point a twig sprang back—you know how easily a thing like that happens. It just flicked my eye—nothing to think twice about. . . . It is called amaurosis."

Carlyle fails to recognise Carrados because the latter is an altered personality, with a different name, and living in unexpected circumstances, but to the blind man the change in Carlyle is negligible against the identity of a remembered voice. They talk of old times and of present times. Carlyle explains his business, and Carrados confesses that the idea of criminal investigation has always attracted him. Even yet, he thinks, he might not be entirely out at it, for blindness has unexpected compensations: "A new world to explore, new experiences, new powers awakening; strange new perceptions; life in the fourth dimension."

Not regarding the suggestion of co-operation seriously, Carlyle puts the offer aside, but, later, Carrados returns to it again. Then the private detective remembers the object of his visit, the meanwhile forgotten coin, and to settle the matter, and to demonstrate to Carrados his helplessness (for the idea of the blind man being an expert must, of course, have been someone's blunder), he slyly offers to put his friend on the track of a mystery. "Yes," he accordingly replied, with crisp deliberation, as he recrossed the room; "yes, I will, Max. Here is the clue to what seems to be a rather remarkable fraud." He put the tetradrachm into his host's hand. "What do you make of it?"

For a few seconds Carrados handled the piece with the delicate manipulation of his finger-tips, while Carlyle looked on with a self-appreciative grin. Then with equal gravity the blind man weighed the coin in the balance of his hand. Finally he touched it with his tongue.

"Well?" demanded the other.

"Of course I have not much to go on, and if I was more fully in your confidence I might come to another conclusion———"

"Yes, yes," interposed Carlyle, with amused encouragement.

"Then I should advise you to arrest the parlourmaid, Nina Brun, communicate with the police authorities of Padua for particulars of the career of Helene Brunesi, and suggest to Lord Seastoke that he should return to London to see what further depredations have been made in his cabinet."

Mr Carlyle's groping hand sought and found a chair, on which he dropped blankly. His eyes were unable to detach themselves for a single moment from the very ordinary spectacle of Mr Carrados's mildly benevolent face, while the sterilised ghost of his now forgotten amusement still lingered about his features.

"Good heavens!" he managed to articulate, "how do you know?"

"Isn't that what you wanted of me?" asked Carrados suavely.

"Don't humbug, Max," said Carlyle severely. "This is no joke." An undefined mistrust of his own powers suddenly possessed him in the presence of this mystery. "How do you come to know of Nina Brun and Lord Seastoke?"

"You are a detective, Louis," replied Carrados. "How does one know these things?"

The bottom having been thus knocked out of his objection, Carlyle has no option but to promise Carrados the reversion of "the next murder" that comes his way. Actually, it is a case involving thirty-five murders that redeems this pledge.

But in spite of every device of Carrados's perspicuity there is still the cardinal deficiency that he cannot see. Whatever remains outside the range of four super-trained senses, aided by that subtle and elusive perception (every man in odd moments has surprised his own mind in the act of throwing out faint-spun and wholly forgotten tentacles of search towards it) called in vague ignorance the "sixth sense"—all beyond these must be for ever a terra incognita to his knowledge. To remedy this he has a personal attendant called Parkinson. Carlyle ingenuously falls into a proposed test that Carrados suggests—his powers of observation against those of Parkinson. When it comes to actual specified details the visitor finds that he only has a loose and general idea of the appearance of the man who has admitted him. On the other hand, when Parkinson is called up he is able to run off a precise and categorical description of Mr Carlyle—although his period of observation had certainly not been the more favourable—from the size and material of the caller's boots, with a button missing from the left foot, to the fashion and fabric of his watch-chain. A very ordinary man of strictly limited ability, he has, in fact, trained this one faculty of detailed observation and retention to supply his master's need.

These three men—Carrados, Carlyle and Parkinson—are the only characters of any prominence who are carried over from the first book to the second. An Inspector Beedel makes an occasional and unimportant appearance in both. In the story called "The Mystery of the Poisoned Dish of Mushrooms" a Mrs Bellmark (niece to Carlyle) will be met; she is the lady whose acquaintance Carrados formed in "The Comedy at Fountain Cottage," when a very opportune buried treasure was unearthed in her suburban garden.

Every generation not unnaturally "fancies itself," and whatever is happening is therefore somewhat more wonderful than anything that has ever happened before. But for this present age there is, of course, a special reason why the exploits of the sightless obtain prominence, and why every inch won in the narrowing of the gulf between the seeing and the blind is hailed almost with the satisfaction of a martial victory. That the general condition of the blind is being raised, that they are, in the mass, more capable and infinitely less dependent than at any period of the past, is undeniable, and these things are plainly to the good; but when we think that blind men individually do more surprising feats and carry themselves more confidently in their blindness than has ever been done before, we deceive ourselves, in the superficiality that is common to the times. The higher capacity under blindness is a form of genius and, like other kinds of genius, it is not the prerogative of any century or of any system. Judged by this standard, Max Carrados is by no means a super-blind-man, and although for convenience the qualities of more than one blind prototype may have been collected within a single frame, on the other hand literary licence must be judged to have its limits, and many of the realities of fact have been deemed too improbable to be transferred to fiction. Carrados's opening exploit, that of accurately deciding an antique coin to be a forgery, by the sense of touch, is far from being unprecedented.

The curious and the incredulous may be referred to a little book, first published in 1820. This is entitled Biography of the Blind, or the Lives of such as have distinguished themselves as Poets, Philosophers, Artists, &c., and it is by James Wilson, "Who has been Blind from his Infancy." From the authorities given (they are stated in every case), it is obvious that these lives and anecdotes are available elsewhere, but probably in no other single volume is so much that is informing and entertaining on this one subject brought together.

The coin incident finds its warrant in the biography of Nicholas Saunderson, LL.D., F.R.S., who was born in Yorkshire in the year 1682. When about twelve months old he lost not only his sight but the eyes themselves from an attack of small-pox. In 1707 he proceeded to Cambridge, where he appears to have made some stir; at all events he was given his M.A. in 1711 by a special process and immediately afterwards elected Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. Of his lighter qualities Wilson says: "He could with great nicety and exactness perceive the smallest degree of roughness, or defect of polish, on a surface; thus, in a set of Roman medals he distinguished the genuine from the false, though they had been counterfeited with such exactness as to deceive a connoisseur who had judged from the eye. By the sense of touch also, he distinguished the least variation; and he has been seen in a garden, when observations were making on the sun, to take notice of every cloud that interrupted the observation, almost as justly as others could see it. He could also tell when anything was held near his face, or when he passed by a tree at no great distance, merely from the different impulse of the air on his face. His ear was also equally exact; he could readily distinguish the fourth part of a note by the quickness of this sense; and could judge of the size of a room, and of his distance from the wall. And if he ever walked over a pavement in courts or piazzas which reflected sound, and was afterwards conducted thither again, he could tell in what part of the walk he had stood, merely by the note it sounded."

Another victim to small-pox during infancy was Dr Henry Moyes, a native of Fifeshire, born during the middle of the eighteenth century. "He was the first blind man who had proposed to lecture on chemistry, and as a lecturer he acquired great reputation; his address was easy and pleasing, his language correct, and he performed his experiments in a manner which always gave great pleasure to his auditors. . . . Being of a restless disposition, and fond of travelling, he, in 1785, visited America. . . . The following paragraph respecting him appeared in one of the American newspapers of that day:—'The celebrated Dr Moyes, though blind, delivered a lecture upon optics, in which he delineated the properties of light and shade, and also gave an astonishing illustration of the power of touch. A highly polished plate of steel was presented to him with the stroke of an etching tool so minutely engraved on it that it was invisible to the naked eye, and only discoverable by a powerful magnifying glass; with his fingers, however, he discovered the extent, and measured the length of the line. Dr Moyes informed us that being overturned in a stage-coach one dark rainy evening in England, and the carriage and four horses thrown into a ditch, the passengers and drivers, with two eyes apiece, were obliged to apply to him, who had no eyes, for assistance in extricating the horses. "As for me," said he, "I was quite at home in the dark ditch . . . now directing eight persons to pull here, and haul there with all the dexterity and activity of a man-of-war's boatswain."'"

Thomas Wilson, "the blind bell-ringer of Dumfries," also owed his affliction to small-pox in childhood. At the mature age of twelve he was promoted to be chief ringer of Dumfries. Says our biographer: "He moreover excelled in the culinary art, cooking his victuals with the greatest nicety; and priding himself on the architectural skill he displayed in erecting a good ingle or fire. In his domestic economy he neither had nor required an assistant. He fetched his own water, made his own bed, cooked his own victuals, planted and raised his own potatoes; and, what is more strange still, cut his own peats, and was allowed by all to keep as clean a house as the most particular spinster in the town. Among a hundred rows of potatoes he easily found the way to his own; and when turning peats walked as carefully among the hags of lochar moss as those who were in possession of all their faculties. At raising potatoes, or any other odd job, he was ever ready to bear a hand; and when a neighbour became groggy on a Saturday night, it was by no means an uncommon spectacle to see Tom conducting him home to his wife and children. . . . At another time, returning home one evening a little after ten o'clock, he heard a gentleman, who had just alighted from the mail, inquiring the way to Colin, and Tom instantly offered to conduct him thither. His services were gladly accepted, and he acted his part so well that, although Colin is three miles from Dumfries, the stranger did not discover his guide was blind until they reached the end of their journey."

Music, indeed, in some form, would seem to be the natural refuge of the blind. Among the many who have made it their profession, John Stanley was one of the most eminent. Born in 1713, he lost his sight at the age of two, not from disease, but "by falling on a marble hearth, with a china basin in his hand." At eleven he became organist of All-Hallows', Bread Street; at thirteen he was chosen from among many candidates to fill a similar position at St Andrew's, Holborn. Eight years later "the Benchers of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple elected him one of their organists." The following was written by one of Stanley's old pupils:—"It was common, just as the service of St Andrew's Church, or the Temple, was ended, to see forty or fifty organists at the altar, waiting to hear his last voluntary; and even Handel himself I have frequently seen at both of those places. In short, it must be confessed that his extempore voluntaries were inimitable, and his taste in composition wonderful. I was his apprentice, and I remember, the first year I went to him, his occasionally playing (for his amusement only) at billiards, mississipie, shuffle-board, and skittles, at which games he constantly beat his competitors. To avoid prolixity I shall only mention his showing me the way, both on horseback and on foot, through the private streets in Westminster, the intricate passages of the city, and the adjacent villages, places at which I had never been before. I remember also his playing very correctly all Corelli's and Geminiani's twelve solos on the violin. He had so correct an ear that he never forgot the voice of any person he had once heard speak, and I myself have divers times been a witness of this. In April, 1779, as he and I were going to Pall Mall, to the late Dr Boyce's auction, a gentleman met us who had been in Jamaica twenty years, and in a feigned voice said, 'How do you do, Mr Stanley?' when he, after pausing a little, said, 'God bless me, Mr Smith, how long have you been in England?' If twenty people were seated at a table near him, he would address them all in regular order, without their situations being previously announced to him. Riding on horseback was one of his favourite exercises; and towards the conclusion of his life, when he lived at Epping Forest, and wished to give his friends an airing, he would often take them the pleasantest road and point out the most agreeable prospects."

All the preceding, it will be noticed, became blind early in life, and this would generally seem to be a necessary condition towards the subject acquiring an exceptional mastery over his affliction. At all events, of the twenty-six biographies (including his own) in which Wilson provides the necessary data, only six lose their sight later than youth, and several of these—as Milton and Euler, for instance—are included for their eminence pure and simple and not because they are remarkable as blind men. Perhaps even Huber must be included in this category, for his marvellous research work among bees (he it was who solved the mystery of the queen bee's aerial "nuptial flight") seems to have been almost entirely conducted through the eyes of his wife, his son, and a trained attendant, and not to depend in any marked way on the compensatory development of other senses. Of the twenty youthful victims, the cause of blindness is stated in fourteen cases, and of these fourteen no fewer than ten owe the calamity to small-pox.

To this general rule of youthful initiation Dr Hugh James provides an exception. He was born at St Bees in 1771, and had already been practising for several years when he became totally blind at the age of thirty-five. In spite of this, he continued his ordinary work as a physician, "even with increased success." If Dr James's record under this handicap is less showy than that of many others, it is remarkable for the mature age at which he successfully adapted himself to a new life. He died at forty-five, still practising; indeed he died of a disease contracted at the bedside of a needy patient.

But for energy, resource and sheer bravado under blindness, no age and no country can show anything to excel the record of John Metcalf—"Blind Jack of Knaresborough" (1717-1810). At six he lost his sight through small-pox, at nine he could get on pretty well unaided, at fourteen he announced his intention of disregarding his affliction thenceforward and of behaving in every respect as a normal human being. It is true that immediately on this brave resolve he fell into a gravel pit and received a serious hurt while escaping, under pursuit, from an orchard he was robbing, but fortunately this did not affect his self-reliance. At twenty he had made a reputation as a pugilist.

Metcalf's exploits are too many and diverse to be more than briefly touched upon. In boyhood he became an expert swimmer, diver, horse-rider and, indeed, an adept in country sports generally. While yet a boy he was engaged to find the bodies of two men who had been drowned in a local river and swept away into its treacherous depths; he succeeded in recovering one. He followed the hounds regularly, won some races, and had at that time an ambition to become a jockey. He was also a very good card-player (for stakes), a professional violinist, and a trainer of fighting-cocks. All through life there was a streak of jocosity, even of devilment, in his nature. Twenty-one found him very robust, just under six feet two high, and as ready with his tongue as with his hands and feet. The following year he learned that his sweetheart was being married by her parents to a more eligible rival. Metcalf eloped with her on the night before the wedding and married her himself the next day. From Knaresborough, where they set up house, he walked to London and back, beating the coach on the return journey.

On the outbreak of the '45 he started recruiting for the King and in two days had enlisted one hundred and forty men. Sixty-four of these, Metcalf playing at their head, marched into Newcastle, where they were drafted into Pulteney's regiment. With them Metcalf took part in the battle of Falkirk, and in other engagements down to Culloden. After Culloden he returned to Knaresborough and became horse-dealer, cotton and worsted merchant, and general smuggler. A little later he did well in army contract work, and then started to run a stage-coach between York and Knaresborough, driving it himself both summer and winter.

His extensive journeyings and his coach work had made the blind man familiar, in a very special way, with the roads and the land between them, and in 1765, at the age of forty-eight, he came into his true vocation—that of road construction. It is unnecessary to follow his career in this development; it is enough to say that during the next twenty-seven years he constructed some one hundred and eighty miles of road. Much of it was over very difficult country, some of it, indeed, over country which up to that time had been deemed impossible, but all of it was well made. His plans did not always commend themselves in advance to the authorities. For such a contingency Metcalf had a very reasonable proposal: "Let me make the road my way, and if it is not perfectly satisfactory when finished I will pull it all to pieces and, without extra charge, make it your way." He had been over the ground in his very special way; of this a Dr Bew, who knew him, wrote: "With the assistance only of a long staff, I have several times met this man traversing roads, ascending steep and rugged heights, exploring valleys and investigating their extent, form and situation so as to answer his designs in the best manner. . . . He was alone as usual."

Remarkable to the end, John Metcalf reached his ninety-fourth year and left behind him ninety great-grandchildren.

It would be easy to multiply appropriate instances from Wilson's book, but bulk is not the object. Nor can his Anecdotes of the Blind be materially drawn upon, although it is impossible to resist alluding to two delightful cases where blind men detected blindness in horses after the animals had been examined and passed by ordinary experts. In one instance suspicion arose from the sound of the horse's step in walking, "which implied a peculiar and unusual caution in the manner of putting down his feet." In the other case the blind man, relying solely on his touch, "felt the one eye to be colder than the other." These two anecdotes are credited to Dr Abercrombie; Scott, in a note to Peveril of the Peak ("Mute Vassals"), recounts a similar case, where the blind man discovered the imperfection by touching the horse's eyes sharply with one hand, while he placed the other over its heart and observed that there was no increase of pulsation.

One point in the capacity of the blind is frequently in dispute—the power to distinguish colour. Even so ingenious a man as the Nicholas Saunderson already mentioned not only could gain no perception of colour himself, but used to say that "it was pretending to impossibilities." Mr J. A. Macy, who edited Miss Helen Keller's book, The Story of my Life—an experience that ought surely to have effaced the word "impossible" from his mind in connection with the blind—makes the bold statement: "No blind person can tell colour."

Three instances of those for whom this power has been claimed are all that can be included here. The reader must attach so much credibility to them as he thinks fit:

1. From Wilson's Biography, as ante:

"The late family tailor (Macguire) of Mr M'Donald, of Clanronald, in Inverness-shire, lost his sight fifteen years before his death, yet he still continued to work for the family as before, not indeed with the same expedition, but with equal correctness. It is well known how difficult it is to make a tartan dress, because every stripe and colour (of which there are many) must fit each other with mathematical exactness; hence even very few tailors who enjoy their sight are capable of executing that task. . . . It is said that Macguire could, by the sense of touch, distinguish all the colours of the tartan."

2. From the Dictionary of National Biography:

"M'Avoy, Margaret (1800-1820), blind lady, was born at Liverpool of respectable parentage on 28 June 1800. She was of a sickly constitution, and became totally blind in June 1816. Her case attracted considerable attention from the readiness with which she could distinguish by her touch the colours of cloth, silk, and stained glass; she could accurately describe, too, the height, dress, bearing, and other characteristics of her visitors; and she could even decipher the forms of letters in a printed book or clearly written manuscript with her fingers' ends, so as to be able to read with tolerable facility. Her needlework was remarkable for its extreme neatness. Within a few days of her death she wrote a letter to her executor. She died at Liverpool on 18 August 1820."

3. From The Daily Telegraph, 29th April 1922:

"American scientists are deeply interested in the discovery of a young girl of seventeen, Willetta Huggins, who, although totally blind and deaf, can 'see and hear' perfectly through a supernormal sense of smell and touch. Miss Huggins, who has been quite deaf since she was ten years old, and totally blind since she was fifteen, demonstrated to the satisfaction of physicians and scientists that she can hear perfectly over the telephone by placing her finger-tips upon the receiver and listening to conversation with friends by placing her fingers on the speakers' cheeks. She attends lectures and concerts, and hears by holding a thin sheet of paper between her fingers directed broadside towards the volume of sound, and reads newspaper headlines by running her finger-tips over large type. She discerns colours by odours, and before the Chicago Medical Society recently she separated several skeins of wool correctly and declared their colours by smelling them, and also recognised the various colours in a neck-tie."

The case of Miss Helen Keller has already been referred to. In America that case has become classic; indeed in its way the life of Miss Keller is almost as remarkable as that of John Metcalf, but, needless to say, the way is a very different one. Her book, The Story of My Life, is a very full and engrossing account of her education (in this instance "life" and "education" are interchangeable) from "the earliest time" until shortly after her entry into Radcliffe College in 1900, she then being in her twenty-first year. The book consists of three parts: (1) her autobiography; (2) her letters; (3) her biography from external sources, chiefly by the account of Miss Sullivan, who trained her.

The difficulty here was not merely blindness. When less than two years old not only sight, but hearing, and with hearing speech, were all lost. Her people were well-to-do, and skilled advice was frequently obtained, but no improvement came. As the months and the years went on, intelligent communication between the child and the world grew less, while a naturally impulsive nature deepened into sullenness and passion in the face of a dimly realised "difference," and of her inability to understand and to be understood. When Miss Sullivan came to live with the Kellers in 1887, on a rather forlorn hope of being able to do something with Helen, the child was six, and relapsing into primitive savagery. The first—and in the event the one and only—problem was that of opening up communication with the stunted mind, of raising or piercing the black veil that had settled around it four years before.

A month after her arrival Miss Sullivan wrote as follows:—"I must write you a line this morning because something very important has happened. Helen has taken the second great step in her education. She has learned that everything has a name, and that the manual alphabet is the key to everything she wants to know.

"In a previous letter I think I wrote you that 'mug' and 'milk' had given Helen more trouble than all the rest. She confused the nouns with the verb 'drink.' She didn't know the word for 'drink' but went through the pantomime of drinking whenever she spelled 'mug' or 'milk.' This morning, while she was washing, she wanted to know the name for 'water.' When she wants to know the name of anything, she points to it and pats my hand. I spelled 'w-a-t-e-r' and thought no more about it until after breakfast. Then it occurred to me that with the help of this new word I might succeed in straightening out the 'mug-milk' difficulty. We went out to the pump-house, and I made Helen hold her mug under the spout while I pumped. As the cold water gushed forth, filling the mug, I spelled 'w-a-t-e-r' in Helen's free hand. The word coming so close upon the sensation of cold water rushing over her hand seemed to startle her. She dropped the mug and stood as one transfixed. A new light came into her face. She spelled 'water' several times. Then she dropped on the ground and asked for its name and pointed to the pump and the trellis, and suddenly turning round she asked for my name. I spelled 'teacher.' Just then the nurse brought Helen's little sister into the pump-house, and Helen spelled 'baby' and pointed to the nurse. All the way back to the house she was highly excited, and learned the name of every object she touched, so that in a few hours she had added thirty new words to her vocabulary. Here are some of them: door, open, shut, give, go, come, and a great many more.

"P.S.—I didn't finish my letter in time to get it posted last night, so I shall add a line. Helen got up this morning like a radiant fairy. She has flitted from object to object, asking the name of everything and kissing me for very gladness. Last night when I got in bed, she stole into my arms of her own accord and kissed me for the first time, and I thought my heart would burst, so full was it of joy."

Seven months later we have this characteristic sketch. It may not be very much to the point here, but it would be difficult to excel its peculiar quality: "We took Helen to the circus, and had 'the time of our lives!' The circus people were much interested in Helen, and did everything they could to make her first circus a memorable event. They let her feel the animals whenever it was safe. She fed the elephants, and was allowed to climb up on the back of the largest, and sit in the lap of the 'Oriental Princess' while the elephant marched majestically around the ring. She felt some young lions. They were as gentle as kittens; but I told her they would get wild and fierce as they grew older. She said to the keeper: 'I will take the baby lions home and teach them to be mild.' The keeper of the bears made one big black fellow stand on his hind legs and hold out his great paw to us, which Helen shook politely. She was greatly delighted with the monkeys and kept her hand on the star performer while he went through his tricks, and laughed heartily when he took off his hat to the audience. One cute little fellow stole her hair-ribbon, and another tried to snatch the flowers out of her hat. I don't know who had the best time, the monkeys, Helen, or the spectators. One of the leopards licked her hands, and the man in charge of the giraffes lifted her up in his arms so that she could feel their ears and see how tall they were. She also felt a Greek chariot, and the charioteer would have liked to take her round the ring; but she was afraid of 'many swift horses.' The riders and clowns and rope-walkers were all glad to let the little blind girl feel their costumes and follow their motions whenever it was possible, and she kissed them all, to show her gratitude. Some of them cried, and the Wild Man of Borneo shrank from her sweet little face in terror. She has talked about nothing but the circus ever since."

So far there is nothing in this case very material to the purpose of this Introduction. The story of Helen Keller is really the story of the triumph of Miss Sullivan, showing how, with infinite patience and resource, she presently brought a naturally keen and versatile mind out of bondage and finally led it, despite all obstacles, to the full attainment of its originally endowed powers. But the last resort of the blind—some of them—is the undeterminate quality to which the expression "sixth sense" has often been applied. On this subject, Helen being about seven years old at this time, Miss Sullivan writes: "On another occasion while walking with me she seemed conscious of the presence of her brother, although we were distant from him. She spelled his name repeatedly and started in the direction in which he was coming.

"When walking or riding she often gives the names of the people we meet almost as soon as we recognise them."

And a year later:

"I mentioned several instances where she seemed to have called into use an inexplicable mental faculty; but it now seems to me, after carefully considering the matter, that this power may be explained by her perfect familiarity with the muscular variations of those with whom she comes into contact, caused by their emotions. . . . One day, while she was walking out with her mother and Mr Anagnos, a boy threw a torpedo, which startled Mrs Keller. Helen felt the change in her mother's movements instantly, and asked, 'What are we afraid of?' On one occasion, while walking on the Common with her, I saw a police officer taking a man to the station-house. The agitation which I felt evidently produced a perceptible physical change; for Helen asked excitedly, 'What do you see?'

"A striking illustration of this strange power was recently shown while her ears were being examined by the aurists in Cincinnati. Several experiments were tried, to determine positively whether or not she had any perception of sound. All present were astonished when she appeared not only to hear a whistle, but also an ordinary tone of voice. She would turn her head, smile, and act as though she had heard what was said. I was then standing beside her, holding her hand. Thinking that she was receiving impressions from me, I put her hands upon the table, and withdrew to the opposite side of the room. The aurists then tried their experiments with quite different results. Helen remained motionless through them all, not once showing the least sign that she realised what was going on. At my suggestion, one of the gentlemen took her hand, and the tests were repeated. This time her countenance changed whenever she was spoken to, but there was not such a decided lighting up of the features as when I held her hand.

"In the account of Helen last year it was stated that she knew nothing about death, or the burial of the body; yet on entering a cemetery for the first time in her life she showed signs of emotion—her eyes actually filling with tears. . . .

"While making a visit at Brewster, Massachusetts, she one day accompanied my friend and me through the graveyard. She examined one stone after another, and seemed pleased when she could decipher a name. She smelt of the flowers, but showed no desire to pluck them; and, when I gathered a few for her, she refused to have them pinned on her dress. When her attention was drawn to a marble slab inscribed with the name Florence in relief, she dropped upon the ground as though looking for something, then turned to me with a face full of trouble, and asked, 'Where is poor little Florence?' I evaded the question, but she persisted. Turning to my friend, she asked, 'Did you cry loud for poor little Florence?' Then she added: 'I think she is very dead. Who put her in big hole?' As she continued to ask these distressing questions, we left the cemetery. Florence was the daughter of my friend, and was a young lady at the time of her death; but Helen had been told nothing about her, nor did she even know that my friend had had a daughter. Helen had been given a bed and carriage for her dolls, which she had received and used like any other gift. On her return to the house after her visit to the cemetery, she ran to the closet where these toys were kept, and carried them to my friend, saying, 'They are poor little Florence's.' This was true, although we were at a loss to understand how she guessed it."

"Muscular variation" would rather seem to be capable of explaining away most of the occult phenomena if this is it. But at all events the latest intelligence of Miss Keller is quite tangible and undeniably "in the picture." According to Who's Who in America, she "Appears in moving picture-play, Deliverance, based on her autobiography." This, doubtless, is another record in the achievements of the blind: Miss Keller has become a "movie."


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