Press enter after choosing selection

Buck Fanshaw's Funeral

Buck Fanshaw's Funeral image
Parent Issue
Day
21
Month
April
Year
1876
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

BY MARK TWAIN. There -was a grand time over Bnck ; Fanshaw when he died. He was a presentative cltizeii of Virginia City, : Nevada. He had " killed his man" - not ; in liis om quarrol, it is trae, but in defense of a Stranger nnfairly beset by I numbers. He had kept a suinptuous I loon. He had been the proprietor of a i dashing helpmeet whom he could liave ! discai-ded without the formality of a í vorce. He had held a high poeition in j the fire department and been a very 1 wiek in politics. When he died there were great lamentations throughout the j town, but especially in the vast bottom stratum of society. Af ter Buck Fanshaw'sinquest, a meeting of the short-haired brotherhood was held, for nothing can be done on the Paciñe coast without a public meeting and an expression of sentiment. Kegretful j resolutions were passed, and various ; mittees appointed ; among others, a oommittee of one was deputed to cali on the minister, a fragüe, genteel, spiritual new fiedgeling from an Eastern theological eeminary, and as yet unacquainted with : the way of the mines. The committeman, " Scotty " Briggs, made his visit ; and in after days it was worth something to hear the minister teil about it. Scotty was a I stalwart rough, whose eustomary suit, when on weighty official business, like committee work, was a fire heimet, flaming red flnnnel shirt, patent leather belt with I spanner and revolver attached, coat i hung over arm, and pants stuffed into boot tops. He formed something oí a contrast to the pale theologioal student. It is fair to say of Scotty, however, in passing, that he had a warm heart, and i a strong love for his friends, and never entered into a quarrel when he could I reasonably get out of it. Indeed, it was j commonly said that when one of Scotty's fights was investigated, it always turned i out that it had originally been no affair of his, but that out of nativo goodheartedness he had dropped in of his own j cord to help the man who was getting the worst of it. He and Buck Fanshaw were bosom friends for yeais, and had often taken adventurous " pot-luck " together. On one occasion they had thrown off their coats and taken the weaker side in a fight among strangers, and after gaining a hard-earned victory, turned and f ound that the men they were helping had deserted early, and not only i that, but had stolen their coats and made ! off with them ! But to return to Scotty's j i visit to the minister. He was on a 1 rowful mission now, and his face was the ! j picture of woe. Being admitted to the presence he sat down before the clergyman, placed his fire-hat on an unfinished manuscript sermón under the minister's ! nose, took from it a red handkerchief , j wiped his brow and heaved a sigh of dismal impresf-iveness, explanatory of his business. Hechoked, and even shed tears ; but with an effort he mastered his ' voice and said in lugubrious tones : "Are you the duck that runs the raill next door?" "Am I the - pardon me, I believe 1 i do not understand ?" With another sigh and u half-sob, ! Sco'ty rejoined : " Why you see we are in a bit of trouble, and the boys thought maybe you would give uc 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." j "I am the shepherd in charge of the i flock whose fold is next door," "The whiolW" "The spiritual adviser of the little company of believers whoFe sanctnary adjoins these preinises. " Scotty scratched his head, reflected a moment, and then said : "You ruther hold over me, pard. I reckon I can 't cali that hand. Ante and pass the buck." "Howï I beg pardon. Wliat did J umierstand you to say ?" " Well, ; ou've ruther got the bnlge on me, Or "maybe we've both got the bulge, someliow. You don't smoke me i indi don't smoke you. You see one of ( the boys has passed in bis checks, and i we want to give bim a good send oft', and i 50 the thing I'm on now is to get i body to jerk a little chin music for us f and waltz him through handsomely. " " My friend, I seem, to grow more and ' more bewildered. Your observations í are incomprehensible to me. Cannot i you simpïify them in sorne way ? At 1 first I thought I understood you, but I 1 grope now. Would it not expedite 1 tersif you restricted yourself to categorical statements of f act, . bered with obstructing accumnlations i of metaphor and allegory J " pause, and more reflection. i Then said Scotty ! " 111 have to pass, t judge." "How?l "You've röised ine out, paid." i "ïstillfaüto catch your meaning." i " Why, that last lead of yourn is too : many for me - that's the idea. I can't i iieither trump nor follow suit." i The clergym8n sank back in his chair perplexed. Scotty leaned his head on his hand and gave ldmself up to thought. '. Peseaüy his face carne up, sorrowful, but coufident. ' " I've got it now, so's you can savvy," be said. " What we want is a gospelsharp. See ? " " A what?" " Gospel-sharp. Parson-,1' "Ohï" Why did yotinotsa.yso.beforo? I am tl clergyman-- a ftarsbh. " "Ño .you talk! You 6ee my blind and strad'dle it like a man. Put it there ! " - extending a brawny paw, which clossd over the minister's small hand and gave it a sbake indicativo of fraternal sympathy and fervent gratification. "Now we're all right, pard. Let's start fresh. Don't you mind my snuffling a little - becuss we're in a j power of trouble. You see, one of the boys has gone up the flume - '! " "Cïone where?" " Üp the fhitiie- thrq%ed up the sponge. You understand." " Throwfl üp the sponge ? " " Yes - kicked the bucket - " " Ah - has departed to that mysterious country from whose bourne no traveler returns." "Return! I reckon not. Why, pard, he's dead .'" " Yes, I understand." "Oh, you do? Well, I thought j maybe you miglit be getting tangled some more. Yea, you see he's dead again-'' "Agttint Why, has he ever been dead bef ore?'' " Dead bef ore ? No ! Do you ïeckon a man has as many lives as a cat ? But you bet he's awful dead now, poor old boy, and I wish I'd never seen this day. I don't want no better friend than Buck i Fanshaw. I knowed Mm by the back ; and when I know a man like him, I freeze to him- you hear me. Take hirn all round, pard, there never was a bullier man in the mines. No man ever knowed Buck Fansliaw to go back on a friend. But ifc's all up, you know, it's alltrp. Itam't no use. ïhey've Bcoöped him.fi "Scooped him?" "Yes- death has. Well, well, well, we've got to give him up. Yres, indeed. It's a kind of a hard world, after all, ain't it? But, pard, he was a rustier! You I ought to see him get 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 hiln peel and go in. He was the worst son of a thief that ever dl'awed breath. Pard, he was on it ! He I was on it bigger than an Injun !" "Onit? On what?" " Ou the shoot. On the shoulder. On the fight, you understand. He didn't i give a continental for anyhoáy. Bcg j your pardon, friend, for coming so near saying a cust-word - but you see I'm on an awful stram in this palaver, on account of having to cramp down and draw everything so mild. But we've got to give him up. There ain't any g tting around that, I don't reckon. Now if we can get you to help plant him - " "Preach the funeral discourse ? Assist at the obsequies?" "Obs'quies is good. Yes. That's it- that's our little game. We are going to get the thing up regardless, you know. He was always nif ty himself , and so you bet you his funeral ain't going to be no slouch solid silver door plate on his coffln, six plumes on the hearse, and a Digger on the box in a bild shirt and a plug bat - how's that for high? And we'il take care of you, pard. We'il fix you all right. There'll be a kerridge for you ; and whatever you want, you just 'scape out and we'll tend to it. We've got a shebang fixed up for you to stand behind in No. I's house, and don't you be afraid. Just go in and toot your horn, if you don't sell a clam. Put Buck through as bully as you can, pard, for anybody that knowed him wil! teil 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 see things going wrong. He has done more to make this town quiet and peaceable than any man in it. I've seeu him lick f our Greasers in eleven minutes, myself. If a thing wanted regulating, he warn't a man to go browsing arQund after somebody to do it, but he would prance in and regúlate it himself. He warn't a Catholic. Scasely. He was down on 'etn. Hs word was, " No Irish need apply ! " But it didn't i make no difterence about that when it ' come down to wbat a man's rights was - and so, when some roughs jumped the ; Catholic bone-yard and started in to stake out town-lots in it, he went for em ! And i he cleaned 'em, too ! I was there, pard, and I seen it myself." " That was very well indeed - at least the impulse was - whetlier the act was j strictly defensiblo or not. Had deceased ' any religious convictions 1 That is to i say, did he feel a dependence upon, or i acknowledge allegiance to a higber power ? " More reflection. "I reckon yo've stumped me again, pard. Could you say it over once more, and say it slow? " "Well, to simplify it, somewhat, was he or rather had he ever been connected ! with any organiz ition sequestered from secular concerns and devoted to self-sacriflce in the interest of morality ? " "All down but nine - sot 'em up on the other ally, pard." " What did I understand you to say ?" " Wby, you're most too many for me, ! you know. When you get in with your left I hunt grass every time. Every time you draw, you till; but I don't seem j to have any luck. liefs have a new deal. ' ' How ? Begin again ? " "That's it." "Very well. Was he a good man and - " "There, I see that ; don't put up another chip till 1 look at my hand. A good man, says you? Pard, it ain't no aame for it. He was the best man that j 3ver - pard, you'd have doted on that naau. He eould lam any galoot of his jiches in América. It was him that put i lown the riot last election bef ore it got i start ; and everybody said ho was the jnly man that could have done it. He waltzed in with a spanner in one hand j md a trompet in the other, and sent Fonrteen men home on a shutter in lcss fchan three minutes. He had that riot all broke up and pievented 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 disturbances. J?ard, lie was a great loss to this towh. It would please the boys if yon cbnld chip in someihing like that and do bim justice. Here once when the Micks got tb throwing stones through the j odis' Sunday sch-ol windows, Buck shaw, all of his own notion, shut up his I saloon and took a couple of six-ehooters and monnted guard over the Sunday school. Says he, ' No Irish need i apply ! ' Aixd they didn't. He was the bulliest man in the mountains, pard ! He could run faster, jump higher, hit harder,' and hold more tangle-f oot whisky without spilling it than any man in seventeen counties. Put that in, pard - it'll pleafie the boys more than anything you could say. And you can say, pard, that he never shook his mother. " Never shook hls mother f" "that's it- any of the boys will teil you sp. " "lell, bilt why shoïild he shake lier?" " That's what say - but some people does. " " Not people of any repute ? " "Well, some that averages pretty so-so." " In my opinión the man that would offer personal violenoe to his owu mother, ought to- " " Cheese it, pard i you've banked your ball clean, outside the strihg. What I i was drivin' at, was, that he never throwed off on his mother - don't you see ? No indeedy. He give 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 l'm d - d if he didn't set up nights and nuss her himself ! Beg your pardon for saying it, but it hopped out too quick for yours truly. Yon've trenled me liko a gentlemtm, pard, and. lain'tthe man to hult yoür feelina's intentional. I think you ie a aqúare toan, païd; I likt; yon, and I'll liek any iüati that Clon't. Pil lick him till he can't teil himself from a last year's corpse ! ' Put it thtre f [Another fraternal hahdshake - aud exit.] The obsequies were all that "the boys " could desire. Such a marvel of funeral pomp had never been seen in Virginia. The plumed hearse, the dirgebreathing brass bands, the closed marts of business, the flags dvooping at half maat, the long, plodding piooession of uniformed secret societiea, draped engines, oarriages of officials, and citissens in vehicles and on foot, attracted multitudes of spectators to the sidewalks, roofs and windows and for years afterward, the degree of grandeur attained by any eivic display in Virginia was determined by comparison with Buck Fanshp.w's funeral. Scotty Briggs, as a pallbearer and a mourner, occupied a prominent place at the funeral, and when the sermón was flnished, and the last sentence of the prayer for the dead roan's soul ascended, he responded, in a low A'oice, bnt with feeltag ! ' ' Amen No Irish need apply. ' ' As the bulk of the response was without apparent relevancy, it was probably nothing more than an humble tribuie to the memory of the friend thflf was gone", for, as Scotty had once said, that was "his word." Scotty Brigga, in after days, achieved the distinction of becoming the only convert to religión that was ever gathered from the Virginia roughs ; and it transpired that the man who had it in him to espouse the quarrel of the weak out of inborn nóbility of spirit was no meao. timber whereöf to construct a Christian. The makiüg liim one did not warp his generosity or diminish his courage; on the contrary, it gave intelligent direction to the one and a broader field to theother. If his Sunday-school class progress faster than the other classes, was it a matter of wonder? I think not. He talked to his pioneer smallfry in a language they understood ! It was my privilege, a month before he died, to hear him teil the beautiful story of Joseph and his brethren to his class " without looking at the book." I leave it to the reader to fancy wbat it was like, as it feil, riddled with slang, from the iips of that grave, earnest teacher, and was listened to by his little learners with a consuming interest that showed that they were iinconscious as he that any violence was being done to the sacred properties.

Article

Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus