Silas

Silas /sáilas/ cuenta como comenzó el negocio de la pintura, de sus experiencias laborales y de la calidad de su pintura. De William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham. Al final Lone Star, fatted calf, Kanuck y bitters.

… "And you say," suggested Bartley, "that you stayed right along on the old place, when the rest cleared out West?"
"No o-o-o," said Lapham, with a long, loud drawl; "I cleared out West too, first off. Went to Texas. Texas was all the cry in those days. But I got enough of the Lone Star in about three months, and I come back with the idea that Vermont was good enough for me."
"Fatted calf business?" queried Bartley, with his pencil poised above his note-book.
"I presume they were glad to see me," said Lapham, with dignity. "Mother," he added gently, "died that winter, and I stayed on with father. I buried him in the spring; and then I came down to a little place called Lumberville, and picked up what jobs I could get. I worked round at the saw-mills, and I was ostler a while at the hotel--I always DID like a good horse. Well, I WA'N'T exactly a college graduate, and I went to school odd times. I got to driving the stage after while, and by and by I BOUGHT the stage and run the business myself. Then I hired the tavern-stand, and--well to make a long story short, then I got married. Yes," said Lapham, with pride, "I married the school-teacher. We did pretty well with the hotel, and my wife she was always at me to paint up. Well, I put it off, and PUT it off, as a man will, till one day I give in, and says I, 'Well, let's paint up. Why, Pert,'--m'wife's name's Persis,--'I've got a whole paint-mine out on the farm. Let's go out and look at it.'
So we drove out. I'd let the place for seventy-five dollars a year to a shif'less kind of a Kanuck that had come down that way; and I'd hated to see the house with him in it; but we drove out one Saturday afternoon, and we brought back about a bushel of the stuff in the buggy-seat, and I tried it crude, and I tried it burnt; and I liked it. M'wife she liked it too. There wa'n't any painter by trade in the village, and I mixed it myself. Well, sir, that tavern's got that coat of paint on it yet, and it hain't ever had any other, and I don't know's it ever will. Well, you know, I felt as if it was a kind of harumscarum experiment, all the while; and I presume I shouldn't have tried it but I kind of liked to do it because father'd always set so much store by his paint-mine. And when I'd got the first coat on,"--Lapham called it CUT,--"I presume I must have set as much as half an hour; looking at it and thinking how he would have enjoyed it. I've had my share of luck in this world, and I ain't a-going to complain on my OWN account, but I've noticed that most things get along too late for most people. It made me feel bad, and it took all the pride out my success with the paint, thinking of father. Seemed to me I might 'a taken more interest in it when he was by to see; but we've got to live and learn. Well, I called my wife out,--I'd tried it on the back of the house, you know,--and she left her dishes,--I can remember she came out with her sleeves rolled up and set down alongside of me on the trestle,--and says I, 'What do you think, Persis?' And says she, 'Well, you hain't got a paint-mine, Silas Lapham; you've got a GOLD-mine.' She always was just so enthusiastic about things. Well, it was just after two or three boats had burnt up out West, and a lot of lives lost, and there was a great cry about non-inflammable paint, and I guess that was what was in her mind. 'Well, I guess it ain't any gold-mine, Persis,' says I; 'but I guess it IS a paint-mine. I'm going to have it analysed, and if it turns out what I think it is, I'm going to work it. And if father hadn't had such a long name, I should call it the Nehemiah Lapham Mineral Paint. But, any rate, every barrel of it, and every keg, and every bottle, and every package, big or little, has got to have the initials and figures N.L.f. 1835, S.L.t. 1855, on it. Father found it in 1835, and I tried it in 1855.'"
"'S.T.--1860--X.' business," said Bartley.
"Yes," said Lapham, "but I hadn't heard of Plantation Bitters then, and I hadn't seen any of the fellow's labels. I set to work and I got a man down from Boston; and I carried him out to the farm, and he analysed it--made a regular Job of it. Well, sir, we built a kiln, and we kept a lot of that paint-ore red-hot for forty-eight hours; kept the Kanuck and his family up, firing. The presence of iron in the ore showed with the magnet from the start; and when he came to test it, he found out that it contained about seventy-five per cent. of the peroxide of iron."
Lapham pronounced the scientific phrases with a sort of reverent satisfaction, as if awed through his pride by a little lingering uncertainty as to what peroxide was. He accented it as if it were purr-ox-EYED; and Bartley had to get him to spell it.
"Well, and what then?" he asked, when he had made a note of the percentage.
"What then?" echoed Lapham. "Well, then, the fellow set down and told me, 'You've got a paint here,' says he, 'that's going to drive every other mineral paint out of the market. Why' says he, 'it'll drive 'em right into the Back Bay!' Of course, I didn't know what the Back Bay was then, but I begun to open my eyes; thought I'd had 'em open before, but I guess I hadn't. Says he, 'That paint has got hydraulic cement in it, and it can stand fire and water and acids;' he named over a lot of things. Says he, 'It'll mix easily with linseed oil, whether you want to use it boiled or raw; and it ain't a-going to crack nor fade any; and it ain't a-going to scale. When you've got your arrangements for burning it properly, you're going to have a paint that will stand like the everlasting hills, in every climate under the sun.' Then he went into a lot of particulars, and I begun to think he was drawing a long-bow, and meant to make his bill accordingly. So I kept pretty cool; but the fellow's bill didn't amount to anything hardly--said I might pay him after I got going; young chap, and pretty easy; but every word he said was gospel. Well, I ain't a-going to brag up my paint; I don't suppose you came here to hear me blow."… (Párrafos de The Rise of Silas Lapham, de William Dean Howells, cap. 1, parte 3.)

Un poco más
Según Silas, luego de ser analizada, se descubrió que su pintura contenía 75 % de peróxido de hierro y podía soportar el fuego, el agua, y el ácido. Se podía usar sobre lata o hierro, dentro de una cisterna o en una bañadera. Luego fueron al depósito donde Silas le mostró al periodista los diferentes envases en los que venía la pintura, desde los más chicos a los más grandes.
Para saber
Texas es llamada Lone Star State queriendo significar su antiguo status como una república independiente y recordatorio de su lucha por independizarse de México.
Fatted calf es la celebración o regocijo por el retorno de alguien. Deriva de la Parábola del Hijo Pródigo del Nuevo Testamento. En el uso moderno “killing the fatted calf” puede significar simplemente celebrar de una manera exuberante.
"Canuck" /kəˈnʌk/ es slang por canadiense. Los orígenes de la palabra son inciertos. El término “Kanuck” fue registrado por primera vez en 1835 como un americanismo, referido a un holandés canadiense o franco canadiense. En la década de 1850 la escritura con la “c” se hizo más común.
Bitters: es tradicionalmente una preparación alcohólica saborizada con hierbas dando como resultado una bebida caracterizada por su sabor amargo. Numerosas marcas fueron desarrolladas como medicinas, aunque ahora son vendidas como digestivas y aromatizantes de coctels.
Vocabulario
Ostler: (también hostler) un hombre empleado para cuidar los caballos de las personas en un posad.
Harum-scarum: irresponsable.
Trestle: caballete.

“Pero si uno de nosotros debe irse primero, es mi oración que sea yo. Porque él es fuerte y yo débil, no le soy tan necesaria como él lo es para mí. La vida sin él no sería vida. ¿Cómo podría soportarlo? Esta oración también es inmortal, y no cesará de ser ofrecida mientras mi raza continúe. Yo soy la primera esposa, y en la última esposa me repetiré.”… (¡Hermoso! Párrafos del Diario de Adán y Eva, de Mark Twain.)