"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"

February 7, 2013
Mark Twain's " "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" is the entertaining yarn of a man who will bet on anything and who trains a frog to jump to challenge naive strangers for money.
IN compliance with the request of a
friend of mine, who wrote me from
the East, I called on good-natured,
garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired
after my friend's friend, Leonidas W. Smiley,
as requested to do, and I hereunto append the
If that was the design, it certainly
I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably
by the bar-room stove of the old, dilapidated
tavern in the ancient mining camp of Angel's,
and I noticed that he was fat and bald-headed,
and had an expression of winning gentleness
and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance.
He roused up and gave me good-day.
I told
him a friend of mine had commissioned me to
make some inquiries about a cherished compa-
nion of his boyhood named Leonidas W. Smi-
ley -- Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley -- a young min-
ister of the Gospel, who he had heard was at
one time a resident of Angel's Camp.
I added
that, if Mr. Wheeler could tell me any thing
about this Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, I would
feel under many obligations to him.
Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and
blockaded me there with his chair, and then sat
me down and reeled off the monotonous narra-
tive which follows this paragraph.
To me, the spectacle of a man drifting serenely
along through such a queer yarn without ever
smiling, was exquisitely absurd.
I let him go on in his own way, and
never interrupted him once:
Any way that suited the other
man would suit him -- any way just so's he got
a bet, he was satisfied.
He was always ready and laying for
a chance; there couldn't be no solitry thing
mentioned but that feller'd offer to bet on it,
and take any side you please, as I was just tell-
ing you.
If he even seen
a straddle-bug start to go anywheres, he would
bet you how long it would take him to get
wherever he was going to, and if you took him
up, he would foller that straddle-bug to Mexico
but what he would find out where he was bound
for and how long he was on the road.
Parson Walker's wife laid
very sick once, for a good while, and it seemed
as if they warn't going to save her; but one
morning he come in, and Smiley asked how she
was, and he said she was considerable better --
thank the Lord for his inf'nit mercy -- and
coming on so smart that, with the blessing of
Anyways, I've got my opinion, and I'll
risk forty dollars that he can outjump any frog
in Calaveras county."
Well, Smiley kept the beast in a little lattice
box, and he used to fetch him down town
sometimes and lay for a bet.
And he had a little small bull pup, that to
look at him you'd think he wan't worth a cent,
but to set around and look ornery, and lay for
a chance to steal something.
He give Smiley a look, as much as to
say his heart was broke, and it was his fault,
for putting up a dog that hadn't no hind legs
for him to take holt of, which was his main de-
pendence in a fight, and then he limped off a
piece and laid down and died.
It was a good
pup, was that Andrew Jackson, and would
have made a name for hisself if he'd lived, for
the stuff was in him, and he had genius -- I
know it, because he hadn't had no opportuni-
ties to speak of, and it don't stand to reason
that a dog could make such a fight as he could
under them circumstances, if he hadn't no tal-
He got
him up so in the matter of catching flies, and
kept him in practice so constant, that he'd nail
a fly every time as far as he could see him.
Smiley said all a frog wanted was education,
and he could do most any thing -- and I believe
never see a frog so modest and straightfor'ard
as he was, for all he was so gifted.
Jumping on a dead level was his strong
suit, you understand; and when it come to
that, Smiley would ante up money on him as
long as he had a red.
Smiley was monstrous
proud of his frog, and well he might be, for
fellers that had traveled and been everywheres,
all said he laid over any frog that ever they see.
The feller took the box again, and took
another long, particular look, and give it back
to Smiley, and says, very deliberate, "Well, I
don't see no p'ints about that frog that's any
better'n any other frog."
"May be
you understand frogs, and may be you don't
understand 'em; may be you've had experience,
and may be you an't only a amature, as it
Anyways, I've got my opinion, and I'll
risk forty dollars that he can outjump any frog
in Calaveras county."
Then he says, "One
-- two -- three -- jump!" and him and the feller
touched up the frogs from behind, and the new
frog hopped off, but Dan'l give a heave, and
hysted up his shoulders -- so -- like a French-
man, but it wan't no use -- he couldn't budge;
he was planted as solid as an anvil, and he
couldn't no more stir than if he was anchored
And he
ketched Dan'l by the nap of the neck, and
lifted him up and says, "Why, blame my
cats, if he don't weigh five pound!" and
turned him upside down, and he belched out
a double handful of shot.
But, by your leave, I did not think that a
continuation of the history of the enterprising
vagabond Jim Smiley would be likely to afford
me much information concerning the Rev. Leoni-
das W. Smiley, and so I started away.
I muttered, good-naturedly, and bidding the
old gentleman good-day, I departed.

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