The Portuguese pennies, or reis (pronounced rays), are prodigious. It takes one thousand reis to make a dollar, and all financial estimates are made in reis. We did not know this until after we had found it out through Blucher. Blucher said he was so happy and so grateful to be on solid land once more that he wanted to give a feast--said he had heard it was a cheap land, and he was bound to have a grand banquet. He invited nine of us, and we ate an excellent dinner at the principal hotel. In the midst of the jollity produced by good cigars, good wine, and passable anecdotes, the landlord presented his bill. Blucher glanced at it and his countenance fell. He took another look to assure himself that his senses had not deceived him and then read the items aloud, in a faltering voice, while the roses in his cheeks turned to ashes:

"'Ten dinners, at 600 reis, 6,000 reis!' Ruin and desolation!

"'Twenty-five cigars, at 100 reis, 2,500 reis!' Oh, my sainted mother!

"'Eleven bottles of wine, at 1,200 reis, 13,200 reis!' Be with us all!

"'TOTAL, TWENTY-ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED REIS!' The suffering Moses! There ain't money enough in the ship to pay that bill! Go--leave me to my misery, boys, I am a ruined community."

I think it was the blankest-looking party I ever saw. Nobody could say a word. It was as if every soul had been stricken dumb. Wine glasses descended slowly to the table, their contents untasted. Cigars dropped unnoticed from nerveless fingers. Each man sought his neighbor's eye, but found in it no ray of hope, no encouragement. At last the fearful silence was broken. The shadow of a desperate resolve settled upon Blucher's countenance like a cloud, and he rose up and said:

"Landlord, this is a low, mean swindle, and I'll never, never stand it. Here's a hundred and fifty dollars, Sir, and it's all you'll get--I'll swim in blood before I'll pay a cent more."

Our spirits rose and the landlord's fell--at least we thought so; he was confused, at any rate, notwithstanding he had not understood a word that had been said. He glanced from the little pile of gold pieces to Blucher several times and then went out. He must have visited an American, for when he returned, he brought back his bill translated into a language that a Christian could understand--thus:

10 dinners, 6,000 reis, or . . .$6.00

25 cigars, 2,500 reis, or . . . 2.50

11 bottles wine, 13,200 reis, or 13.20

Total 21,700 reis, or . . . . $21.70

Happiness reigned once more in Blucher's dinner party. More refreshments were ordered.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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