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  Anne Sullivan Macy: Miracle Worker

Portrait of Anne Sullivan Macy: Miracle Worker

Anne's Letter to Helen Keller from Puerto Rico (1917, #3)

Date: 1917
To: Helen Keller
From: Anne S. Macy in Puerto Rico


Dawn is creeping up the eastern border of the sky. I couldn't sleep, and I came out here on the porch to watch it. The orange grove and pineapple patch have a waiting, expectant look, as if they heard far-off the feet of day. The long banana leaves are reaching out to touch the breeze, as we stretch out our hands when we wake from sleep. The pineapples—about an acre of them—come up almost to the porch steps. As the sun climbs higher, the pineapple patch resembles a gorgeous Oriental rug. The orange grove is at my left. The dark glossy leaves are twinkling gently, showing the golden fruit they conceal. There is a deep gully at my right, full of guava bushes, wild coffee-plants and brilliantly colored pampa grass. There is also a plant which grows like our cannas. Harry Lake says its blossoms are scarlet, yellow and deep pink. I am sorry they will not bloom before I leave the island.

The woman who owns this property is having a rough drive-way made for us between the grove and the pineapples. It is amusing to watch the men scoop out the earth with the help of oxen and shovels that look like an overgrown dust-pan. When the ditch is deep enough, the men bring loads of bamboo, pineapple-tops, all kinds of wild grasses and pieces of board—anything they can pick up, and fill it, then shovel the earth back, smooth it and roll it, and lo! The non-descript road is ready for traffic. I don't know how it will wear, but it is fairly satisfactory now. We walk and drive on it without getting stuck in the mud as we did when we first came.

The porch extends the entire length of three sides of the shack. That sounds much longer than it is. You would have to walk it an incalculable number of times to make a mile.

We bought a sack of corn yesterday afternoon to feed "El Capitan," and left it on the porch. This morning we were awakened by a dreadful noise and the shaking of our beds. We jumped up, thinking the oxen had come back, and were carrying off the shack on their backs. But it wasn't oxen this time. It was horses! Three of them! They were trying to pull the corn off the porch. It was a terrifying sight. They were rearing, plunging, biting each other and neighing fiendishly. Harry Lamb managed to rescue the sack and drive them away from the house. But they didn't stop fighting, they carried the battle into the gully, and from the sounds you would have thought it was a jungle in the heart of Africa.

I was too excited to sleep. I thought it would be fun to write a Braille letter and tell you about the horse fight. I brought the tablet out on the porch where the light is good. I had settled down to my job (you have no idea what a job it is for me to write Braille, the stiletto is so awkward in my hand, it feels like trying to punch a hole in the universe with a toe!) when a Bayamon and the two goats came to see what I was doing. They are watching the process suspiciously. The goats can't make up their minds whether or not the tablet is something to eat. I know they'd like a chance to investigate.

It is beautiful—this slow, peaceful life in this backward island, with nothing to disturb one but the dropping to the floor every few seconds of a lizard when another lizard pulls off its leg. It used to keep us awake, but now that we have become accustomed to the sound, especially when we know they can always grow another leg, it doesn't disturb us any more than the war news from the civilized front.

You will be interested to know, Helen, that after a tropical cloud-burst the pineapple-patch in front of the shack is like a rug woven of opals—can you imagine it? The rain-drops on the leaves reflect their brilliant colors. The banana-trees look and sound like fountains when the heavy rain pelts their emerald-green leaves.




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