Brutus Jones is an escaped convict from America and is in hiding in an island in the West Indies. With a little help from the cockney trader Smithers and with lots of luck and some hard work he has crowned himself 'the emperor' over the gullible natives.
Jones tells Smithers how he has successfully subdued the poor natives. Once "ole Lem," a native chief was hired to kill Jones, but he missed and Jones kills him instantly. Jones spreads the rumour that he is so powerful that no lead bullet can harm him and that only a silver bullet can kill him. The poor gullible natives begin worshipping him, "kneelin' and bumpin' deir heads on de ground like I was miracle out o' de Bible." From then on Brutus Jones becomes "Emperor Jones." He knows fully well that it would be impossible for the poor natives to get a silver bullet. He further makes his position more secure by having a silver bullet made for himself and tells the natives that at the appropriate time he will shoot himself with this silver bullet. Thus, creating the impression that he is so strong and powerful that he and no one else can kill him.
So, it's not just luck which crowned him 'emperor' but his shrewdness in capitalising upon his luck and as he tells Smithers, it also involved a certain amount of effort and work on his part: " And ain't I got to learn deir lingo and teach some dem English befo' I kin talk to 'em? Ain't dat wuk?" Sc1.