The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Stories HTML version

The Man Of No Account
His name was Fagg--David Fagg. He came to California in '52 with us, in the
SKYSCRAPER. I don't think he did it in an adventurous way. He probably had no other
place to go to. When a knot of us young fellows would recite what splendid opportunities
we resigned to go, and how sorry our friends were to have us leave, and show
daguerreotypes and locks of hair, and talk of Mary and Susan, the man of no account
used to sit by and listen with a pained, mortified expression on his plain face, and say
nothing. I think he had nothing to say. He had no associates except when we patronized
him; and, in point of fact, he was a good deal of sport to us. He was always seasick
whenever we had a capful of wind. He never got his sea legs on, either. And I never shall
forget how we all laughed when Rattler took him the piece of pork on a string, and-- But
you know that time-honored joke. And then we had such a splendid lark with him. Miss
Fanny Twinkler couldn't bear the sight of him, and we used to make Fagg think that she
had taken a fancy to him, and send him little delicacies and books from the cabin. You
ought to have witnessed the rich scene that took place when he came up, stammering and
very sick, to thank her! Didn't she flash up grandly and beautifully and scornfully? So
like "Medora," Rattler said--Rattler knew Byron by heart--and wasn't old Fagg awfully
cut up? But he got over it, and when Rattler fell sick at Valparaiso, old Fagg used to
nurse him. You see he was a good sort of fellow, but he lacked manliness and spirit.
He had absolutely no idea of poetry. I've seen him sit stolidly by, mending his old
clothes, when Rattler delivered that stirring apostrophe of Byron's to the ocean. He asked
Rattler once, quite seriously, if he thought Byron was ever seasick. I don't remember
Rattler's reply, but I know we all laughed very much, and I have no doubt it was
something good for Rattler was smart.
When the SKYSCRAPER arrived at San Francisco we had a grand "feed." We agreed to
meet every year and perpetuate the occasion. Of course we didn't invite Fagg. Fagg was a
steerage passenger, and it was necessary, you see, now we were ashore, to exercise a little
discretion. But Old Fagg, as we called him--he was only about twenty-five years old, by
the way--was the source of immense amusement to us that day. It appeared that he had
conceived the idea that he could walk to Sacramento, and actually started off afoot. We
had a good time, and shook hands with one another all around, and so parted. Ah me!
only eight years ago, and yet some of those hands then clasped in amity have been
clenched at each other, or have dipped furtively in one another's pockets. I know that we
didn't dine together the next year, because young Barker swore he wouldn't put his feet
under the same mahogany with such a very contemptible scoundrel as that Mixer; and
Nibbles, who borrowed money at Valparaiso of young Stubbs, who was then a waiter in a
restaurant, didn't like to meet such people.
When I bought a number of shares in the Coyote Tunnel at Mugginsville, in '54, I thought
I'd take a run up there and see it. I stopped at the Empire Hotel, and after dinner I got a
horse and rode round the town and out to the claim. One of those individuals whom
newspaper correspondents call "our intelligent informant," and to whom in all small