How Angels Got Religion

“Never heard how we got religion to Angels, stranger? I thought, uv course, everybody’d heerd that yarn. Tell ye? Why sure; but let’s licker again and I’ll reminisce.

“Yet see, ’twas afore Angels got to be sech a big camp as ’twas later on, but it was a rich camp and a mighty wicked one. There were lots uv chaps there who’d jest as soon die in their boots as eat; and every other house was a dance-house or a saloon or a gambling-hell. Pretty Pete and his pardner, Five- Ace Bob, was reckoned the wickedest men in the State; and Old Bill Jones, what kept the Golden West Hotel, had a national reputation for cussin’. The idea of a parson striking the camp never was thought uv; but one day I was playing bank into Pete’s game when Five-Ace came a runnin’ in ’n’ sez:

“‘Boys, I’ll be derned, but there’s an ornery cuss of a parson jest rid up to Jones’s. He’s got a partner with him, and he ’lows he’s goin’ to convert the camp.’

“‘The hell he is!’ sez Pete. ‘I’ll finish the deal and go down and see about that!’

“So we all walked down to Jones’s, and thar, sure ’nuff, in the bar, talking with Old Bill, wuz the parson, black coat and white tie ’n’ all. He was a big, squar’-shouldered chap with a black beard, and keen grey eyes that looked right through yer. His pardner was only a boy of twenty or so, with yeller, curly ha’r, pink-and-white gal’s face, and big blue eyes. We all walked in, ’n’ Pete he stands to the bar ’n’ shouts fer all hands ter drink; ’n’ to our surprise the parson ’n’ the kid both stepped up and called fer red licker ’n’ drank it. After the drink was finished, the parson sez:

“ ‘Gents, as yer see, I’m a minister of the Gospel, but I see no harm in any man drinking, ez long ez he ain’t no drunkard. I drank just now because I want yer to see that I am not ashamed to do before yer face what I’d do behind yer back.’

“ ‘Right yer are, parson,’ sez Pete; ‘put it thar’; ’n’ they shook hands, ’n’ then Pete he up and called off the hull gang—

Five-Ace ’n’ Lucky Barnes ’n’ Dirty Smith, ’n’ one ’n’ all the rest ub ’em.

“The parson shook hands with all uv us, and sed he was going to have a meetin’ in Shifty Sal’s dance- house that night, ez ’twas the biggest room in camp, ’n’ ast us all to come, ’n’ we sed we would. When we got outside, Pete sez: ‘Boys, you mind me, that devil-dodger’ll capture the camp’; ’n’ he did. That night we all went along to Shifty’s, and found the parson and the kid on the platform where the fiddlers used to sit; and every man in camp wuz in the audience. The parson spoke first:

“‘Gents, I want to tell yer first off I don’t want any uv yer dust. I’ve got enough fer myself and my young friend, ’n’ there won’t be no rake-off in this yer meetin’-house, ’n’ I’m not here to preach against any man’s way o’ makin’ a livin’. I will preach ag’in drunkenness, and I shall speak privately with the gamblers; but I want to keep you men in mind uv yer homes ’n’ yer mothers ’n’ yer wives ’n’ yer sweethearts, and get yer to lead cleaner lives, so’s when yer meet ’em ag’in yer’ll not hev to be ’shamed.’

“And then he sed we’d hev a song, ’n’ the youngster he started in ’n’ played a concertina and sang ‘Yes, we’ll gather at the River’; ’n’ there wuzn’t one uv us that it didn’t remind uv how our mothers used to dress us up Sundays ’n’ send us to Sunday school, and stand at the door to watch us down street, and call us back to ast if we were sure we had our clean pocket handkerchur; ’n’ I tell yer, mister, thar wuzn’t a man with dry eyes in the crowd when he’d finished. That young feller had a v’ice like a angel. Pete he sed it wuz a tenner v’ice, but Five-Ace offered to bet him a hundred to fifty it wuz more like a fifteener or a twenty. Pete told Five-Ace he wuz a derned old fool ’n’ didn’t know what he wuz talkin’ about.

“Well, things run along for about a week, ’n’ one day Pete come to me and sez:

“‘Look here, Ralters, this yere camp ain’t no jay camp, ’n’ we’ve got to hev a church fer the parson. He’s a jim-dandy, and won’t ask for nothing. He’d jest natchelly go on prayin’ and preachin’, ’n’ tryin’ ter save

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