Honored As A CuriosityShort Story by Mark Twain
If you get into conversation with a stranger in Honolulu, and experience that natural desire to know what sort of ground you are treading on by finding out what manner of man your stranger is, strike out boldly and address him as "Captain." Watch him narrowly, and if you see by his countenance that you are on the wrong track, ask him where he preaches. It is a safe bet that he is either a missionary or captain of a whaler. I became personally acquainted with seventy-two captains and ninety-six missionaries. The captains and ministers form one-half of the population; the third fourth is composed of common Kanakas and mercantile foreigners and their families; and the final fourth is made up of high officers of the Hawaiian Government. And there are just about cats enough for three apiece all around.
A solemn stranger met me in the suburbs one day, and said:
"Good morning, your reverence. Preach in the stone church yonder, no doubt!"
"No, I don't. I'm not a preacher."
"Really, I beg your pardon, captain. I trust you had a good season. How much oil--"
"Oil! Why, what do you take me for? I'm not a whaler."
"Oh! I beg a thousand pardons, your Excellency. Major-General in the household troops, no doubt? Minister of the Interior, likely? Secretary of War? First Gentleman of the Bedchamber? Commissioner of the Royal--"
"Stuff, man! I'm not connected in any way with the government."
"Bless my life! Then who the mischief are you? what the mischief are you? and how the mischief did you get here? and where in thunder did you come from?"
"I'm only a private personage--an unassuming stranger--lately arrived from America."
" No! Not a missionary! not a whaler! not a member of his Majesty's government! not even a Secretary of the Navy! Ah! Heaven! it is too blissful to be true, alas! I do but dream. And yet that noble, honest countenance--those oblique, ingenuous eyes--that massive head, incapable of--of anything; your hand; give me your hand, bright waif. Excuse these tears. For sixteen weary years I have yearned for a moment like this, and--"
Here his feelings were too much for him, and he swooned away. I pitied this poor creature from the bottom of my heart. I was deeply moved. I shed a few tears on him, and kissed him for his mother. I then took what small change he had, and "shoved."