The undertaker’s wife waits, she weaves, she builds.
The undertaker practices his art, the Dismal Trade, with consummate skill. He has raised it to an art through the high craft of the Connable Method. Through it, he has managed to transform the ugliness of death into a thing of dignity and beauty. Victims brutalized by war, street fights, tavern brawls, ambushes, fires, every hazard in a raw West—these in his hands become presentable. Everywhere on the frontier, which erupts with life and death, he offers his skill: to the rich of San Francisco, the bawds and ruffians of the Barbary Coast, to Kansas cowboys, outlaws, soldiers, and sheriffs. He is devoted to dignifying the dead.
She is devoted to making her marriage whole, in spite of the tragedy that surrounds it; and most especially in spite of the tragedy that in one terrible afternoon strikes at its center.
Today the undertaker is called to disguise the suicide of a famous financier. It is high drama, for only his art can save American’s financial markets. Her task on this day is secret, an act of understanding and dedication.
In the end it is the undertaker’s wife who, through love, is able to transcend death.