As I was perusing my collection of science fiction books, I thumbed open a copy of Cordwainer Smith’s short story collection Space Lords. The beginning pages had this dedication.
to the memory of
ELEANOR JACKSON of LOUISA, VIRGINIA
20 February 1919 to 30 November 1964
You came out to my house to tend me, Eleanor, while I was sick and trying to finish this book. You died in the little guest room next to my bedroom. You spent the night there because you wanted to get a special breakfast for me, Eleanor, since I was sick at home while my wife had to be taken to a hospital, too.
You died there in my house, Eleanor; you looked very sleepy when you were dead, like one of the little “colored” dolls that they have at the department stores in America.
You were a Negro, Eleanor, and I have been called white. For seventeen years you shared my home, cooking, cleaning, and tending my things in America. You were a woman and I am a man. In seventeen years, we were thousands of times just the two of us in the house, and there was never an indecent gesture or an unchaste word from one of us to the other. I was kind, generous, courteous, and thoughtful toward you, and you were kind, generous, courteous and thoughtful toward me.
Only when the blue-clad police carried your little body away did I finally say to the morgue station wagon those words which I never said to you in life, “I love you, Eleanor. Where are you going, my little brown girl?”
I know where you are, Eleanor. Your little body is in a box somewhere on the other side of the world, in Virginia. I am back here In Australia again. But I can tell you this, Eleanor. I honor and remember the seventeen years of your intelligence and kindness, while I was called master and you were called servant. I’ll see the real you again, Eleanor, in a friendly place in Which we both believe.
Cordwainer Smith died in 1966, a little more than 1 year after this dedication first appeared in print.