He started right out by saying that he didn’t see any good reason why an undertaker should act as if he was the next of kin. Was always stopping people on the streets to tell them the latest, and yelling out the point in a horse-laugh. Everybody allowed that jolly old Binder had the right idea; and that Magoffin might as well shut up shop. Every one in town wanted to see him officiate at a funeral, and there was a lot of talk about encouraging new enterprises, but it didn’t come to anything. No one appeared to have any public spirit.
Seemed as if we’d never had a healthier spring than that one. Couldn’t fetch a nigger, even. The most unpopular man in town, Miser Dosher, came down with pneumonia in December, and every one went around saying how sad it was that there was no hope, and watching for Binder to start for the house. But in the end Dosher rallied and “went back on the town,” as Si Perkins put it. Then the Hoskins-Bustard crowds took a crack at each other one court day, but it was mighty poor shooting. Ham Hoskins did get a few buckshot in his leg, and that had to come off, but there were no complications.
By this time Binder, though he still laughed and cracked his jokes, was beginning to get sort of discouraged. But Si Perkins used to go round and cheer him up by telling him that it was bound to come his way in the end, and that when it did come it would come with a rush.
Then, all of a sudden, something happened—yellow jack dropped in from down New Orleans way, and half the people in town had it inside a week and the other half were so blamed scared that they thought they had it. But through it all Binder never once lost his merry, cheery ways. Luckily it was a mild attack and everybody got well; but it made it mighty easy for Doc Hoover to bring sinners tinder conviction for a year to come.
When it was all over Binder didn’t have a friend in town. Leaked out little by little that as soon as one of the men who’d been cheering for jolly old Binder got yellow jack, the first thing he did was to make his wife swear that she’d have Magoffin do the planting.
You see, that while a man may think it’s all foolishness for an undertaker to go around solemn and sniffling, he’ll be a little slow about hiring a fellow to officiate at his funeral who’s apt to take a sense of humor to it.