The morbidly obese Chester Jenkins pressured Encyclopedia into throwing a Fourth of July party. The amount of detail put into describing the preparation for the party is completely unnecessary, except to establish the fact that it was the Fourth of July, so I’ll skip it.
At some point during the party preparation, Chester, who apparently wasn’t around to help with the party that he wanted in the first place, suddenly appeared and excitedly told Encyclopedia some great news. Wilford Wiggins had called a secret meeting for kids only.
Encyclopedia told Chester to chill the eff out because of Wilford’s long and rich history of trying to cheat kids out of money. Chester replied with, “Today is different.” We have no idea what made Chester believe that this meeting would be different from any other meeting. Encyclopedia decided it would best to show up to, once again, talk the kids out of not giving Wilford money.
Wilford’s ploy this time was a raffle. For two dollars, someone can buy the chance to win a painting of the Liberty Bell painted on July 4, 1776 by his own ancestor, Nathaniel Tarbox Wiggins. A painting like this could be worth thousands of dollars.
Bugs wasn’t believing any of it. He had recently gone to Philadelphia and saw the Liberty Bell up close. I’m not one to believe anything Bugs says, but this “I’ve seen the Liberty Bell” story is a lot more believable than the time he said he went to New York and sold a Yankee pitcher a technique for pitching. He said that the real Liberty Bell had a crack on it, but this painting didn’t seem to have one. Wilford gladly gave Bugs a closer look, and with that, he was able to see the crack. He bought a raffle ticket and the rest of the children hurried to get in line to buy their own tickets.
Encyclopedia asked when Nathaniel Tarbox Wiggins had died, and Wilford answered 1822. That’s when Encyclopedia pulled the plug on the whole deal. The art piece was a fake because the artist Wiggins had never lived to see the crack in the bell.
No one knows when exactly the bell got cracked. It was anywhere between 1817 and 1846. The book says 1835. While that seems to be the most popularly held account, we don’t actually know if it’s correct. Point being, it wasn’t cracked in 1776, so a painting of the bell done then wouldn’t have a crack.
Also, no one would have even have thought of painting the Liberty Bell on July 4, 1776. While it’s a commonly held belief that the bell rang on that day to mark the ratification of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, there’s actually no record of that happening. They rang it four days later after the declaration was read publically for the first time. Even then, the bell itself wasn’t considered an important symbol of our independence until later.
In fact, the term “Liberty Bell” wasn’t coined until the 1830s, and it was done kind of ironically by abolitionists. Kind of a “Yeah, not everyone got freedom when we declared independence.”
So in other words, Wilford managed to fit a lot of wrongness into one story.
The real kicker is that as the children were clearing out, Sally complimented Wilford on the quality of the painting. Although it was fake and not worth the thousands he was claiming, Sally thought that the painting itself still looked like a good painting. Wilford admitted that he put a lot of work into creating it. That means that Wilford actually has talent outside of tricking little children, but instead of honing his craft, he devoted his time tricking children.
How sad is that?