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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




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 cannot
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, it is true, but in defence of a stranger
unfairly 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 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 God.” What could the world do without juries?

Prodigious preparations were made for the funeral. All
the vehicles in town were hired, all the saloons put in mourning,


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all the municipal and fire-company flags 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 slang of Nevada the richest and the
most infinitely varied and copious that had ever existed anywhere
in the world, perhaps, except in the mines of California
in the “early days.” Slang 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.

After Buck Fanshaw's inquest, a meeting of the short-haired
brotherhood was held, for nothing can be done on the
Pacific coast without a public meeting and an expression of
sentiment. Regretful resolutions were passed and various
committees appointed; among others, a committee of one was
deputed to call on the minister, a fragile, gentle, spirituel new
fledgling from an Eastern theological seminary, and as yet unacquainted
with the ways of the mines. The committeeman,
“Scotty” Briggs, made his visit; and in after days it was
worth something to hear the minister tell about it. Scotty
was a stalwart rough, whose customary suit, when on weighty
official business, like committee work, was a fire helmet, flaming
red flannel shirt, patent leather belt with spanner and
revolver attached, coat hung over arm, and pants stuffed into
boot tops. He formed something of a contrast to the pale
theological student. It is fair to say of Scotty, however, in
passing, that he had a warm heart, and a strong love for his
friends, and never entered into a quarrel when he could reasonably
keep out of it. Indeed, it was commonly said that
whenever one of Scotty's fights was investigated, it always
turned out that it had originally been no affair of his, but that
out of native goodheartedness he had dropped in of his own


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 331. In-line image of two men talking together at a table. On the table there is a fire man's hat.]
accord to help the man who was getting the worst of it. He
and Buck Fanshaw were bosom friends, for years, 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 found that the men they were helping had
deserted early, and not only that, but had stolen their coats
and made off with them! But to return to Scotty's visit to
the minister. He was on a sorrowful mission, now, and his
face was the picture of woe. Being admitted to the 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 door?”

“Am I the—pardon me, I believe I do not understand?”

With another sigh and a half-sob, Scotty rejoined:


Page 332

“Why you see we are in a bit of trouble, and the boys
thought maybe you would 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

“You ruther hold over me, pard. I reckon I can't call
that hand. Ante and pass the buck.”

“How? I beg pardon. What did I understand you to

“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 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 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. Cannot
you simplify them in some way? 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 unencumbered with obstructing accumulations
of metaphor and allegory?”

Another pause, and more reflection. Then, said Scotty:

“I'll have to pass, I judge.”


“You've raised me out, pard.”

“I still fail to catch your meaning.”

“Why, that last lead of yourn 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 thought.
Presently his face came up, sorrowful but confident.


Page 333

“I've got it now, so's you can savvy,” he said. “What we
want is a gospel-sharp. See?”

“A what?”

“Gospel-sharp. Parson.”

“Oh! Why did you not say so before? I am a clergyman—a

“Now you talk! You see my blind and straddle 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're all right, pard. Let's start fresh. Don't you
mind my snuffling 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—throwed up the sponge, you understand.”

“Thrown up 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 maybe you might be getting
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 you 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 knowed him by
the back; and when I know a man and like him, I freeze to
him—you hear me. Take him all round, pard, there never
was a bullier man in the mines. No man ever knowed Buck
Fanshaw to go back on a friend. But it's all up, you know,
it's all up. It ain't no use. They've scooped him.”

“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, he was a rustler! You ought to seen him get
started once. He was a bully boy with a glass eye! Just spit


Page 334
in his face and give him room according to his strength, and
it was just beautiful to see him peel and go in. He was the
worst son of a thief that ever drawed breath. Pard, he was
on it! He was on it bigger than an Injun!”

“On it? On what?”

“On the shoot. On the shoulder. On the fight, you 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 strain, 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 getting 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 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 in
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'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. 1'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 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 going wrong. He's done more to
make this town quiet and 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 he would prance in and
regulate it himself. He warn't a Catholic. Scasely. He was
down on 'em. His word was, `No Irish need apply!' But it
didn't make no difference about that when it came down to
what 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 he cleaned 'em, too! I was there,
pard, and I seen it myself.”


Page 335

“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 acknowledge allegiance to a higher power?'

More reflection.

“I reckon you'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 organization sequestered from
secular concerns and devoted to self-sacrifice in the interests
of morality?”

“All down but nine—set 'em up on the other alley, pard.”

“What did I understand you to say?”

“Why, 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 fill; but I don't seem to have any luck.
Lets have a new deal.”


Page 336

“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 I look
at my hand. A good man, says you? Pard, it ain't no name
for it. He was the best man that ever—pard, you would
have doted on that man. He could lam any galoot of his
inches in America. It was him that put down the riot last
election before it got a start; and everybody said he was the
only man that could have done it. He waltzed in with a
spanner in one hand and a trumpet in the other, and sent
fourteen men 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 disturbances.
Pard, he was a great loss to this town. It would please the
boys if you could chip in something like that and do him justice.
Here once when the Micks got to throwing stones
through the Methodis' Sunday school windows, Buck Fanshaw,
all of his own notion, shut up his saloon and took 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
bulliest man in the mountains, pard! He could run faster,
jump higher, hit harder, and hold more tangle-foot whisky
without spilling it than any man in seventeen 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

“Never shook his mother?”

“That's it—any of the boys will tell you so.”

“Well, but why should he shake her?”

“That's what I say—but some people does.”

“Not people of any repute?”

“Well, some that averages pretty so-so.”

“In my opinion the man that would offer personal violence
to his own mother, ought to—”

“Cheese it, pard; you've banked your ball clean outside
the string. What I was a drivin' at, was, that he never


Page 337


[Description: 504EAF. Page 337. In-line image of a man arguing with a woman who is lying in bed sick.]
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 I'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.
treated me
like a gentleman,

pard, and I
ain't the
man to hurt
your feelings
think you
're white.
I think you're a square man, pard. I like you, and I'll lick any
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—and

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 dirge-breathing brass bands, the closed marts
of business, the flags drooping at half mast, the long, plodding
procession of uniformed secret societies, military battalions and
fire companies, draped engines, carriages of officials, and citizens
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 civic display in Virginia
was determined by comparison with Buck Fanshaw's funeral.

Scotty Briggs, as a pall-bearer and a mourner, occupied a
prominent place at the funeral, and when the sermon was


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[Description: 504EAF. Page 338. In-line image of a woman instructing three people who are reading books and sitting together.]
finished and the last sentence of the prayer for the dead man's
soul ascended, he responded, in a low voice, but with feeling:

Amen. No Irish need apply.”

As the bulk of the response was without apparent relevancy,
it was probably nothing more than a humble tribute to the
memory of the friend that was gone; for, as Scotty had once
said, it was “his word.”

Scotty Briggs, in after days, achieved the distinction of becoming
the only convert to religion 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
nobility of spirit was no mean timber whereof to construct a
Christian. The making him 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 the
other. If
his Sunday-school
faster than
the other
classes, was
it matter for
wonder? I
think not.
He talked to
his pioneer small-fry in a language they understood! It was
my large privilege, a month before he died, to hear him tell the
beautiful story of Joseph and his brethren to his class “without
looking at the book.” I leave it to the reader to fancy
what it was like, as it fell, riddled with slang, from the lips of
that grave, earnest teacher, and was listened to by his little
learners with a consuming interest that showed that they were
as unconscious as he was that any violence was being done to
the sacred proprieties!