To celebrate the release of Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts, we’re posting some of history’s greatest fakes, frauds and flimflams all week long. Today: Huck Finn and the Lost Dauphin.
The son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, little Louis-Charles was the heir to the (obliterated) throne after his parents were beheaded by the French Revolution. Instead of ruling over the land, however, he was imprisoned and died of an illness at the age of ten. OR DID HE? Just as soon as he died, people began to wonder whether or not the child had escaped—which opened up room for wannabe kings to claim to be the Lost Dauphin. You may remember one of the confidence men from Huck Finn:
"Looky here, Bilgewater," he says, "I’m nation sorry for you, but you ain’t the only person that’s had troubles like that."
“No you ain’t. You ain’t the only person that’s ben snaked down wrongfully out’n a high place.”
“No, you ain’t the only person that’s had a secret of his birth.”
And, by jings, HE begins to cry.
“Hold! What do you mean?”
“Bilgewater, kin I trust you?” says the old man, still sort of sobbing.
“To the bitter death!” He took the old man by the hand and squeezed it, and says, “That secret of your being: speak!”
“Bilgewater, I am the late Dauphin!”
You bet you, Jim and me stared this time. Then the duke says:
“You are what?”
“Yes, my friend, it is too true—your eyes is lookin’ at this very moment on the pore disappeared Dauphin, Looy the Seventeen, son of Looy the Sixteen and Marry Antonette.”