The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
Competition Quotes Page 2
How we cite our quotes:
Well, thish-yer Smiley had rat-tarriers, and chicken cocks, and tom- cats, and all of them kind of things, till you couldn't rest, and you couldn't fetch nothing for him to bet on but he'd match you. He ketched a frog one day, and took him home, and said he cal'klated to edercate him; and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump. And you bet you he did learn him, too. He'd give him a little punch behind, and the next minute you'd see that frog whirling in the air like a doughnut see him turn one summerset, or may be a couple, if he got a good start, and come down flat-footed and all right, like a cat. 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 him. (para. 7)
Smiley begins to "educate" a frog in order to create his most competitive animal yet. "Dan’l Webster" is a fitting name, because the real Daniel Webster – a senator and presidential candidate – was an extraordinary educated man who was noted for his skills as a narrator.
And the feller took it, and looked at it careful, and turned it round this way and that, and says, "H'm so 'tis. Well, what's he good for?"
"Well," Smiley says, easy and careless, "He's good enough for one thing, I should judge he can outjump any frog in Calaveras county."
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." (para. 11-13)
Jim Smiley begins the competition that will be his undoing, though he doesn’t yet know it. At this point, there is still no suggestion that the stranger might be a dishonest man. He’s quite willing to play into Smiley’s game by underestimating Dan’l’s jumping abilities.
"Now, if you're ready, set him alongside of Dan'l, with his fore- paws just even with Dan'l, and I'll give the word." 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 Frenchman, but it wan's 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 out. Smiley was a good deal surprised, and he was disgusted too, but he didn't have no idea what the matter was, of course. (para. 18)
Through cheating, the stranger wins the bet against the unsuspecting Smiley. For a gambler, Smiley seems pretty naïve and trusting. Then again, he’s probably not a traveler like the stranger is, so he doesn’t necessarily know how things work in other parts of the country.