And then he busted into tears, and so did everybody. Then somebody sings
out, “Take up a collection for him, take up a collection!” Well, a half a
dozen made a jump to do it, but somebody sings out, “Let HIM pass the hat
around!” Then everybody said it, the preacher too.
Then he burst into tears, and so did everyone else. Then someone called
out, “Take up a collection for him, take up a collection!” Half a dozen
people offered to start one, but then someone cried out, “HE should pass the
hat around!” Everyone agreed, including the preacher.
So the king went all through the crowd with his hat swabbing his eyes, and
blessing the people and praising them and thanking them for being so good to
the poor pirates away off there; and every little while the prettiest kind
of girls, with the tears running down their cheeks, would up and ask him
would he let them kiss him for to remember him by; and he always done it;
and some of them he hugged and kissed as many as five or six times—and he
was invited to stay a week; and everybody wanted him to live in their
houses, and said they’d think it was an honor; but he said as this was the
last day of the camp-meeting he couldn’t do no good, and besides he was in a
sweat to get to the Indian Ocean right off and go to work on the
So the king went through the crowd with his hat, wiping his eyes and
blessing the people and praising them and thanking them for being so kind to
the poor pirates way out in the Indian Ocean. And every now and then, a
really pretty girl would ask him, with tears running down her cheeks, if it
would be all right if she kissed him so that he’d remember her. He always
said yes, and some of them hugged and kissed him five or six times. He was
invited to stay the whole week, and everyone wanted him to live in their
house, saying it would be an honor to have him. But he said that he wouldn’t
be able to stay, since this was the last day of the camp meeting. Besides,
he said, he was in a hurry to get back to the Indian Ocean to get to work
converting those pirates.
When we got back to the raft and he come to count up he found he had
collected eighty-seven dollars and seventy-five cents. And then he had
fetched away a three-gallon jug of whisky, too, that he found under a wagon
when he was starting home through the woods. The king said, take it all
around, it laid over any day he’d ever put in in the missionarying line. He
said it warn’t no use talking, heathens don’t amount to shucks alongside of
pirates to work a camp-meeting with.
When we got back to the raft, the king counted up the money in the
collection. He said he’d gotten eighty-seven dollars and seventy-five cents.
He’d also stolen a three gallon jug of whiskey from under a wagon as we
headed through the woods on our way home. The king said that, all in all,
this was the biggest haul he’d ever made with a religious scam. He said that
talking about wanting to convert Indians and other heathens wasn’t nearly as
successful as claiming to want to convert pirates.
The duke was thinking HE’D been doing pretty well till the king come to
show up, but after that he didn’t think so so much. He had set up and
printed off two little jobs for farmers in that printing-office—horse
bills—and took the money, four dollars. And he had got in ten dollars’ worth
of advertisements for the paper, which he said he would put in for four
dollars if they would pay in advance—so they done it. The price of the paper
was two dollars a year, but he took in three subscriptions for half a dollar
apiece on condition of them paying him in advance; they were going to pay in
cordwood and onions as usual, but he said he had just bought the concern and
knocked down the price as low as he could afford it, and was going to run it
for cash. He set up a little piece of poetry, which he made, himself, out of
his own head—three verses—kind of sweet and saddish—the name of it was,
“Yes, crush, cold world, this breaking heart"—and he left that all set up
and ready to print in the paper, and didn’t charge nothing for it. Well, he
took in nine dollars and a half, and said he’d done a pretty square day’s
work for it.
The duke said that he had thought HE’D done pretty well that day, but he
had come to think differently after hearing the king’s story. He’d set up a
little scam for farmers and had started by printing some horse bills in the
printing office. He’d taken the money, four dollars. And he’d sold ten
dollar’s worth of advertisements for the newspaper, which he said he’d
accept if they paid four dollars in advance, which they did. A newspaper
subscription cost two dollars per year, but he’d taken advance payment of
one dollar apiece for three subscriptions. The customers had planned on
paying him in firewood and onions, as is usual, but he said he had those
things and would prefer cash since he had discounted the price of the
subscription as low as he could. He’d written up a little bit of original
poetry—three sweet and sad verses that he called “Yes, crush, cold world,
this breaking heart”—and he left that all set up and ready to print in the
newspaper, free of charge. All in all, he’d taken in nine dollars and fifty
cents, and had called it a pretty good day’s work.
Then he showed us another little job he’d printed and hadn’t charged for,
because it was for us. It had a picture of a runaway nigger with a bundle on
a stick over his shoulder, and “$200 reward” under it. The reading was all
about Jim, and just described him to a dot. It said he run away from St.
Jacques’ plantation, forty mile below New Orleans, last winter, and likely
went north, and whoever would catch him and send him back he could have the
reward and expenses.
Then he showed us another little thing he’d printed, free of charge,
because it was for us. It had a picture of a runaway n----- with a bundle on
a stick slung over his shoulder. It said “$200 reward” under it. The words
on the paper were all about Jim, and they described him perfectly. It said
he’d run away last winter from St. Jacques’s plantation—which was about
forty miles below New Orleans—and had probably gone north. Whoever caught
him could send him back to claim the reward and be reimbursed for
“Now,” says the duke, “after to-night we can run in the daytime if we want
to. Whenever we see anybody coming we can tie Jim hand and foot with a rope,
and lay him in the wigwam and show this handbill and say we captured him up
the river, and were too poor to travel on a steamboat, so we got this little
raft on credit from our friends and are going down to get the reward.
Handcuffs and chains would look still better on Jim, but it wouldn’t go well
with the story of us being so poor. Too much like jewelry. Ropes are the
correct thing—we must preserve the unities, as we say on the boards.”
“Now,” said the duke. “After tonight we can travel during the day if we
want. Whenever we see anyone coming, we can just tie Jim up with a rope, lay
him down in the wigwam, and show this handbill indicating that we captured
him up the river. We can say that we were too poor to travel by steamboat.
We bought this little raft on credit from our friends and are going to claim
the reward. It’d look better if we could put handcuffs and chains on Jim,
but it wouldn’t fit in with our story about being poor. It’d be like if we
claimed to be poor, but had jewelry. Ropes are the best thing—we can
preserve continuities, as we say in the theater.”
We all said the duke was pretty smart, and there couldn’t be no trouble
about running daytimes. We judged we could make miles enough that night to
get out of the reach of the powwow we reckoned the duke’s work in the
printing office was going to make in that little town; then we could boom
right along if we wanted to.
We all agreed that the duke was pretty smart, and that now we’d have no
trouble traveling in the daytime. We figured we should travel quite a ways
that night to put enough distance between us and the trouble that the duke’s
printing scam would likely cause once people figured out they’d been
cheated. Then we wouldn’t have to worry.