Francis Hopkinson Smith
23 oktober 1838 – 7 april 1915
målning av Oliver Hazard Perry
Ibland kallas han för en renässansmänniska. Förutom att han skrev böcker, och det var därför jag hittade honom, så målade han tavlor, illustrerade böcker och var ingenjör. Han konstruerade fyrar och pirer och bland hans många konstruktioner finns frihetsgudinnas fundament.
Du hittar en hel räcka av hans böcker — både romaner och noveller — hos Gutenberg.
The Statue of Liberty
The Lily Pond
An Old English Inn
Polishing the Parlor Floor
Än så har jag inte läst så mycket av honom, men de av hans böcker jag kikat på fångar mitt intresse från början. Som här i The Little Gray Lady:
Once in a while there come to me out of the long ago the fragments of a story I have not thought of for years—one that has been hidden in the dim lumber-room of my brain where I store my by-gone memories.
These fragments thrust themselves out of the past as do the cuffs of an old-fashioned coat, the flutings of a flounce, or the lacings of a bodice from out a quickly opened bureau drawer. Only when you follow the cuff along the sleeve to the broad shoulder; smooth out the crushed frill that swayed about her form, and trace the silken thread to the waist it tightened, can you determine the fashion of the day in which they were worn.
And with the rummaging of this lumber-room come the odors: dry smells from musty old trunks packed with bundles of faded letters and worthless deeds tied with red tape; musty smells from dust-covered chests, iron bound, holding mouldy books, their backs loose; pungent smells from cracked wardrobes stuffed with moth-eaten hunting-coats, riding-trousers, and high boots with rusty spurs—cross-country riders these—roisterers and gamesters—a sorry lot, no doubt.
Or perhaps it is an old bow-legged high-boy—its club-feet slippered on easy rollers—the kind with deep drawers kept awake by rattling brass handles, its outside veneer so highly polished that you are quite sure it must have been brought up in some distinguished family. The scent of old lavender and spiced rose leaves, and a stick or two of white orris root, haunt this relic: my lady’s laces must be kept fresh, and so must my lady’s long white mitts—they reach from her dainty knuckles quite to her elbow. And so must her cobwebbed silk stockings and the filmy kerchief she folds across her bosom:
It is this kind of a drawer that I am opening now—one belonging to the Little Gray Lady.