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Spare of your flowers to deck the stranger's grave,
Who died for a lost cause—
Ne'er won a world's applause!
Yes, bring fresh flowers and strew the soldier's grave,
Whether he proudly lies
Beneath our Northern skies,
And for one day the thought of all the past—
Of all those memories vast—
BUCK FANSIIAW'S FUNERAL.—Mark Twain.
Somebody has said that in order to know a community, one must observe the style of its funerals and know what manner of men they bury with most ceremony. I can not say which class we buried with most eclat in our " flush times," the distinguished public benefactor or the distinguished rough—possibly the two chief grades or grand divisions of society honored their illustrious dead about equally; and hence, no doubt, the philosopher I have quoted from would have needed to see two representative funerals in Virginia before forming his estimate of the people.
There was a grand time over Buck Fanshaw when he died. He was a representative citizen. He had "killed his man," not in his own quarrel to be sure, but in defense of a stranger beset by numbers. He had kept a sumptuous saloon. He had been the proprietor of a dashing helpmeet, whom he could have discarded without the formality of a divorce. He had held a high position in the fire department, and had been a very Warwick in politics. When he died there was great lamentation throughout 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 taken arsenic, shot himself through the body, cut his throat, and jumped out of a four-story window and broken his neck, and, after due deliberation, the jury, sad and tearful, but with intelligence unblinded by its sorrow, brought in a verdict of "death by the visitation of Providence." What could the world do without juries!
Prodigious preparations were made for the funeral. All the vehicles in town were hired, all the saloons were put in mourning.all the municipal and fire-company flags were hung at half-mast and all the firemen ordered to muster in uniform, and bring their machines duly draped in black.
Now—let us remark in parenthesis—as all the peoples of the earth had representative adventurers in the Silverland, and as each adventurer had brought the slang of his nation or his locality with him, the combination made the plang of Nevada the richest and the most mfinitely varied and copious that had ever existed anywhere in the world, perhaps, sxcept in the mines of California in the "early days." Plang was the language of Nevada. It was hard to preach a sermon without it, and be understood. Such phrases as " You bet !" "Oh, no I reckon not!" " No Irish need apply," and a hundred others, became so common as to fall from the lips of a speaker unconsciously—and very often when they did not touch the subject under discussion and consequently failed to mean anything.
Regretful resolutions were passed and various committees appointed ; among others, a committee of one was deputed to tall on the 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, he 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 impressiveness, 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 dooi?"
"Am I the—pardon me, I believe I do not understand."
With another sigh and a half sob, Scotty rejoined:
"Why you see wc are in a bit of trouble, and 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're the head clerk of the doxology works next door."
"I am the shepherd in charge of the flock whose fold is next door."
"The spiritual adviser of the little company of believers tvhose sanctuary adjoins these premises."
Scotty scratched his head, reflected a moment, and then said:
"You ruther hold over me, pard. I reckon I can't call that card. Ante and pass the buck."
"How? I beg your pardon. What did I understand you to say?"
"Well, you've ruther got the bulge on me. Or maybe we've both got the bulge, somehow. You don't smoke me and I don't smoke you. You see one of (he boys has passed in his checks, and we want to [rive him a good send off, and so the thing I'm on now is to roust out somebody to jerk a little chin-music for us, and waltz him through handsome."
"My friend, I seem to grow more and more bewildered. Your observations are wholly incomprehensible to me. Can you not simplify them someway? At first I thought perhaps I understood you, but I grope now. Would it not expedite matters if you restricted yourself to categorical statements of fact unincumbered with obstructing accumulation! of metaphor and allegory?"
Another pause and more leflection. Then Scotty said:
"I'll bav<» to pass, I judge."
"You've raised me out, pard."
"I still fail to catch your meaning."
"Why, that last lead of your'n is too many for me—that's the idea. I can't neither trump nor follow suit."
The 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?"
"Obi Why did you not say so before? I am a clergyman—a parson."
"Now you talk! You see my blind, and straddle it like a man. Put it there!"—extending i brawny paw, which closed over the minister's small hand and gave it a shake indicative of fraternal sympathy and fervent gratification.
"Now we're all right, pard. Let's start fresh. Don't you mmd me snuffling a little, becuz we're in a power of trouble. You see one of the boys has gone up the flume—"
"Up the flume—throw'd up the sponge, you know."
"Ah—has departed to that mysterious country from whose bourne no traveler returns." "Return? Well I reckon not. Why, pard, he's dead!" "Yes, I understand."
"Oh, you do? Well, I thought maybe you might be getling tangled some more. Yes, you see he's dead again—"
"Again! Why, has he ever been dead before?"
"Dead before? No. Do you reckon a man has got 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 Fanshaw. I know'd him by the back; and when I know a man like him, I freeze to him—you hear me. Take him all round, pard, there never was a bnllier man in the mines. No man ever know'd Buck Fanshaw to j»o back on a friend. But it's all up, you know; it's all up.
It ain't no use. They've scooped him!"
"Yes—death has. Well, well, well, we've got to give him up. Yes, indeed. It's a kind of a hard world after all, ain't it? But, pard, ho was a rustler. You ought to seen 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 him peel and go in. He wa, the worst son of a thief that ever draw'd breath. Pard, 1« was on it. He was on it bigger than an injun!"
"On it? On what?"
"On the shoot. On the shoulder. On the fight. Unde. stand? He didn't give a continental—for anybody. Beg you, pardon, friend, for coming so near saying a cuss word—bu* you see I'm on an awful stram in this palaver, on account ol having to cramp down and draw everything so mild. But we've got to give him up. There ain't any getting around that, I don't reckon. Now if we can get you to help plan* 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 up the thing regardless, you know. He was always nifty himself, and so you bet you his funeral ain't going to be no slouch; solid silver door-plate on his coffin, six plumes on the hearse, and a nigger on the box, with a biled shirt and a plug hat on—how's that for high? And we'll take care of you, pard. We'll fix you all right. There will 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. l's house, and don\, 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 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 see things goin' wrong. He's done more to make this town peaceable than any man in it. I've seen him lick four greasers in eleven minutes, myself. If a thing wanted regulating, he warn't a man to go browsing around after somebody to do it, but ho would prance in and regulate it himself. He warn't a Catho