FIRST PRAYER AT HANNEY’S
Hanney’s Diggings certainly needed a missionary, if any place ever did; but, as one of the boys once remarked during a great lack of water, “It had to keep on a-needin’.” Zealous men came up by steamer via the Isthmus, and seemed to consume with their fiery haste to get on board the vessel for China and Japan, and carry the glad tidings to the heathen. Self-sacrificing souls gave up home and friends, and hurried across, overland, to brave the Pacific and bury themselves among the Australasian savages. But, though they all passed in sight of Hanney’s, none of them paused to give any attention to the souls who had flocked there. Men came out from ’Frisco and the East to labor with the Chinese miners, who were the only peaceable and well-behaved people in the mines; but the white-faced, good-natured, hard-swearing, generous, heavy-drinking, enthusiastic, murderous Anglo-Saxons they let severely alone. Perhaps they thought that hearts in which the good seed had once been sown, but failed to come up into fruit, were barren soil; perhaps they thought it preferable to be killed and eaten by cannibals than to be tumbled into a gulch by a revolver-shot, while the shootist strolled calmly off in company with his approving conscience, never thinking to ascertain whether his bullet had completed the business, or whether a wounded man might not have to fight death and coyotes together.
At any rate, the missionaries let Hanney’s alone. If any one with an unquenchable desire to carry the Word where it is utterly unknown, a digestion without fear, and a full-proof article of common sense (these last two requisites are absolute), should be looking for an eligible location, Hanney’s is just the place for him, and he need give himself no trouble for fear some one would step in before him. If he has several dozens of similarly constituted friends, they can all find similar locations by betaking themselves to any mining camp in the West.
As Hanney’s had no preacher, it will be readily imagined it had no church. With the first crowd who located there came an insolvent rumseller from the East. He called himself Pentecost, which was as near his right name as is usual with miners, and the boys dubbed his shop “Pentecost Chapel” at once. The name, somehow, reached the East, for within a few months there reached the post-office at Hanney’s a document addressed to “Preacher in charge of Pentecost Chapel.” The postmaster went up and down the brook in high spirits, and told the boys; they instantly dropped shovel and pan, formed line, and escorted the postmaster and document to the chapel. Pentecost acknowledged the joke, and stood treat for the crowd, after which he solemnly tore the wrapper, and disclosed the report of a certain missionary society. Modestly expressing his gratification at the honor, and his unworthiness of it, he moved that old Thompson, who had the loudest voice in the crowd, should read the report aloud, he, Pentecost, volunteering to furnish Thompson all necessary spirituous aid during the continuance of his task. Thompson promptly signified his acquiescence, cleared his throat with a glass of amber-colored liquid, and commenced, the boys meanwhile listening attentively, and commenting critically.