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A NEVADA FUNERAL. [BY MARK TWAIN.], Unknown, Volume XVIII, Issue 825, 18 April 1873
A NEVADA FUNERAL. [ BY MARK TWAIN.]
There was a great time over Buck FanBhaw when he died. He was a representative citizen. lie had "killed his man"— not in his own quarrel, it is true, but in the defence of a stranger beset by numbers. lie kad kept a sumptuous saloon. He had been the proprietor of a dashing help-meet, whom lie could have discarded without the formality of a divorce. lie had held a high position in the fire department, and had been a very Warwick in politics. When he died there was a great lamentation througouht the town, but especially in the vast bottom stratum of society. On the inquest it was shown that Buck Fanshaw, in the delirium of a wasting typhoid fever, had tnken arsenic, shot himself through the body, cut his throat, and lumped out of a four-story window and broke his neck; and after due deliberation the jury, sad and tearful, but with intelligence uii blinded by its sorrow, brought in a verdict of death " by the visitation of God. " Whut could the world do without juries. ? Prodigious preparations were made for tho funeral. All the vehicles in the town were hired, and all the saloons were put in mourning ; all the municipal and fire company (lags were hung at half-mast, and all the firemen ordered to muster in uniform and bring their machines duly draped in black. Kcgietful resolutions were passed, and various committees were appointed ; among others, a committee of one was appointed to call on !i minister—a fragile, gentle, spiritual new fledgling from an eastern theological seminary, and as yet unacquainted with the ways of the mines. The committee-man, " Scotty Briggs," made his visit. Being admitted to his presence, ho sat down before the clergyman, placed his fire hat on an unfinished manuscript sermon under the minister's nose, took from it a red silk handkerchief, wiped his brow and heaved a sigh of dismal hnpressiveness explanatory of his business. He choked, and even shed tears ; but with an efFort he mastered his voice, and said, in lugubrious tones — " Are you the duck that runs the gospel mill next floor ?" "Ami the— pardon me, I believe I do not understand." With another sigh and half sob, Scotty rejoined — " Why, you see we are in a bit of trouble ; the "boys thought maybe you'd give us a lift, if we'd tackle you — that is, if I've got the rights of it, and you are the head clerk of the doxology works next door." "I am the shepherd in charge of the flock whose fold is next door." "The which?" " The spiritual adviser of the little company of believers whose sanctuary adjoins these premises." Scotty scratched his head, reflected a moment, and then said —"You rather hold over me, pard. I reckon I can't call that hand." " How P I beg your pardon. What did I understand you to say ?" " Well, you've rather got the bulge on me. Or may bo we've both got the bulge somehow. You don't smoke me and I don't smoke you. You see one of the boys has passed in his checks, and we want to give him a good send off, and so the thing I'm on now is to rout odt somebody to jerk out a little chin-music for us, and waltz him through handsome." " My friend, I seem to grow more and more bewildered. Your observations aro wholly incomprehensible to me. Cannot you simplify them some way ? At first I thought perhaps I understood you, but now J grope. Would it not expedite matters if you restricted yourself to categorical statements of fact unincumbered" with obstructing accumulationsof metaphor and allegory ?" Another pause, and more reflection. Then Scotty said—" I'll have to paBS, I judge." 11 How ?" " You've raised me out pard." " I still fail to catch your meaning." " Why, that last lead of yourn is too mnny for me — that's the idea. I can't neither trump nor follow suit." Tlje clergyman sank back in his chair ' perplexed. Scotty leaned his head on his hand, and gave himself up to reflection. Presently his face came up, sorrowful but confident. " I've got it now, so's you can savvy," said he. "What we want is a gospel* sharp. See ?" 11 A "what ?" " Gospel-sharp, parson." " Oh ! why did you did say so before ? I am a clergyman — a parson." . " Now you talk I You see my blind, and straddled it like a man. Put it there !" extending a brawny paw, which closed over the minister's small hand, and gave it a shake indicative of fraternal sympathy and fervent gratification. "Now We are all right, pard. Let's start fresh Hon'tyou mind mo shuffling a little, becuz we're in a power of trouble. You see one of the boys has gone up the flume." " Gone where ?" " Up the flume — throw'd up the sponge, you know." " Thrown up the sponge ?" " Yea— kicked the huckit " "Ah — hns depatted to that mysterious countiy fiom whose bourne no tiavellei returns," " Pteturn ? Well, I reckon not. Why, pard, he's dead." " Yes. ] understand." "O, do you? Well, I thought maybe you might be getting tangled once more. Yes, you see, he's dead again " " Again 1 why, was he ever dead before ?"
" Dead before 1 No. Do you reckon a man has got ns many lives as a cat P But you bet, he's awful dead now, poor old boy, and I wish I'd never seen him this day. I don't know no better friend than Buck Fanshaw. I know'd him by the back 5 and when I know a man like him I freeze to him — you hear me ? Take him all around, there was never a bullier man in the mines. No man ever know'd Buck Fanshaw to go back on a friend. But it's all up. It ain't no use. They've dcooped him." , " Scooped him P" " Yes— death has. Well, well, we've got to give him up. Yes, indeed. It's a kind of hard world, after all, ain't it? But, pard, he was a rusteler. You ought to see him got started once. He was a bully boy with a glass eye. Just spit in his face, and give him room according to his strength, and it was just beautiful to see him peel and go in on it !" " On it ! On what V "On the shoot. On the shoulder. On the fight. Understand? He didn't give a continental for — anybody. Beg your pardon, friend, for coming so near saying a cuss word — but you see I'm on an awful strait in this palaver, on account of it having to cram down everything so mild. But we've got to give him up. There ain't no getting around that, I don't reckon. Now, if we can't get you to help plant him " "Preach the funeral discourse? Assist at the funeral obssquies ?" "Obs'quies is good. We are going to get up the thing regardless, you know. He was always nifty himself, and so you bet his funeral ain't going to be no slouch ; solid silver door-plate on his coffin, six plumes on the hearse, and n nigger on the box, with a biled shirt and a plug hat — how's that for high ? And we'll take care of you, pard. We'll fix you all right. There will he a kerridge for you; and whatever you want you jest step out and we'll tend to it. We've got a shebang fixed up for you too, and it's behind in No. l's house, and toot your horn, if you don't sell a clam. Put Buck through as bully as you can, pard, for anybody that know'd him will tell you that he was one of the whitest men that was ever in the mines. You can't draw it too strong. He never could stand it to sec things going wropg. He's done more to make this town peaceable than any man it. I've seen him lick four Greasers in eleven minutes myself. If a thing wanted regulating he warn't the man to go browsing aiouiul after somebody to do it, but he would go in and regulate it himself. He warn't a Catholic, but it didn't make no (HU'ercnce about that when it came down to what a man's right was — and so, when some roughs jumped the Catholic bone-yard and started in to mark town lots in it, he went for 'em! and he cleaned 'em, too ! 1 was there and seen it myself." " That was very well, indeed— at least the impulse was — whether the act was strictly defensible or not. Had deceased any religious convictions ? That is to say, did he feel a dependence upon or acknow* ledge allegiance to a higher po»vcr !" More reflection. "I reckon you've stumped me again, pard. Could you say it over once more, and say it slower ?" " Well, to simplify it somewhat, was he, or rather had he been connected with any organisation sequestered from secular concerns and devoted to self-sacrifice in the interests of morality !" 11 All down but nine — set 'em up on the other alley, pard !" " What did 1 understand you to say ?" " Why, you're most too many for ine, you know. When you pet in with your left, I hunt grass every time. Every time you draw you fill ; but 1 don't eeem to have any luck. Let's have a new deal 1" 11 How ?" "Begin again." " That's it." " Very well \ was he a good man, and " I' There— 1 see that; don't put another chip till I look at my hand. A good man, says you ? Paid, it ain't no name for it. He was the best man that ever— pard, you would have doatcdon that man. He could lame any galoot of his inches in America. It was him that put down the riot, last election, before it got a start; and every body said that he was the only man that could have done it. He waltzed in with a trumpet in one hand and a spanner in the other, and sent fourteen home on a shutter in less than three minutes. He had that riot all broke up and prevented nice before anybody ever got a chance to strike a blow. He was always for peace, and he would have peace; he could not stand disturbance. Pard, he was a great loss to the town. It would please the boys if you could chip in something about that, and do him justice. Here once, like when the ' Mioks got to throwing stones through the Methodist Sunday School windows, Buck Faushaw, all of his own notion, shut up his saloon and took up a couple of six-shooters and mounted guard over the Sunday School. Says he, 'No Irish need apply !' And they didn't. He was the bullicst man in the mountain, pard ; he could run faster, jump higher, hit harder, and hold more tangle-foot whisky without spilling than any man in seven teen counties. Put that in pard ; it'll please the boys more than anything you could say. And you can say, pard, that he never shook his mother." " Never shook his mother 1" "That's it— any of the boys will tell you so." " Well, but why should he shake her V " That's what I say — -but some people does !" 11 Not people of any repute ?" " Well, some that average pretty so-so." " In my opinion, a man that would offer violence to his mother ought to — — " 11 Cheese it, pard ; you've banked your ball clean outside the string. What I was aidrivin' at was, that he never throw'd off on his mother — don't you see ? No, indeed. He gave her a house to live in, and town lots and plenty of money ; and he looked after her and took care of her all the time ; and when she was down with the small- pox, I'm darned if he didn't sit up nights and nuss her himself! Heg your pardon for saying it'hopped out too quick for yours truly. You've treated me like a gentleman, and I ain't tho man to hurt your feelings intentional. I think you're white. I think you're a square man, pard. I like you' and I'll lick anv man that don't. I'll lick him till he can't tell himself from a last year's corpse. Put it there !" Another fraternal hand-shake. Exit. The obscqu'us were all the boys could desire. Such a marvel of funeral pomp had never been seen in Virginia. The plumed heajse, the dirge-breathing brass band, the closed maits of business, the flags diooping at half-mast, the long plodding piDcession of uniformed secret societies, military battalions and fire companies, .diaped engine, carriage* ol officials, and citizens in vehicles and on fuot attimted multitudes of spectators to the sidewaLs, roofs and wimious; ami foi veil s afterwards the' (hgrie of'giaiiiUiu attained by any ci\ ic display in Virginia undetermined | liy compaiison with the iuaeral of Buck j Faiibhaw.
A NEVADA FUNERAL. [BY MARK TWAIN.], Unknown, Volume XVIII, Issue 825, 18 April 1873
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