The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
How we cite our quotes:
"…but any way, he was the curiosest man about always betting on any thing that turned up you ever see, if he could get any body to bet on the other side; and if he couldn't, he'd change sides. [. . .] Why, it never made no difference to him he would bet on any thing the dangdest feller. Parson Walker's wife laid very sick once, for a good while, and it seemed as if they warn's 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 inftnit mercy and coming on so smart that, with the blessing of Providence, she'd get well yet; and Smiley, before he thought, says, "Well, I'll risk two- and-a-half that she don't, any way." (para 4)
Jim Smiley’s main characteristic is his love of or addiction for betting. He likes the competition, even though he’s good-natured about it. His honesty shows that even pastimes as shady as gambling have codes of honor attached to them. Unfortunately, he can also be quite tactless, like when he bets that the parson’s wife will stay sick.
Thish-yer Smiley had a mare the boys called her the fifteen- minute nag, but that was only in fun, you know, because, of course, she was faster than that and he used to win money on that horse, for all she was so slow and always had the asthma, or the distemper, or the consumption, or something of that kind. They used to give her two or three hundred yards start, and then pass her under way; but always at the fag-end of the race she'd get excited and desperate- like, and come cavorting and straddling up, and scattering her legs around limber, sometimes in the air, and sometimes out to one side amongst the fences, and kicking up m-o-r-e dust, and raising m-o-r-e racket with her coughing and sneezing and blowing her nose and always fetch up at the stand just about a neck ahead, as near as you could cipher it down. (Para 5)
For Smiley, part of the fun in the competition is being able to trick others into believing that he’s a fool to enter into the bet that he makes. He does this with his mare and, later, with his dog Andrew Jackson.
"And he had a little small bull pup, that to look at him you'd think he wan's worth a cent, but to set around and look ornery, and lay for a chance to steal something. But as soon as money was up on him, he was a different dog; his underjaw'd begin to stick out like the fo'castle of a steamboat, and his teeth would uncover, and shine savage like the furnaces. And a dog might tackle him, and bully- rag him, and bite him, and throw him over his shoulder two or three times, and Andrew Jackson which was the name of the pup Andrew Jackson would never let on but what he was satisfied, and hadn't expected nothing else and the bets being doubled and doubled on the other side all the time, till the money was all up; and then all of a sudden he would grab that other dog jest by the j'int of his hind leg and freeze on it not chew, you understand, but only jest grip and hang on till they thronged up the sponge, if it was a year." (para 6)
Smiley cultivates pets who, like him, love the thrill of beating the competition. His dog, Andrew Jackson, would fool people into thinking he wasn’t going to win – until there was actual money on the table, and then he’d pull out his trick and beat the other dog. Andrew Jackson might not be "well-educated" because he can only do one thing, but he does that thing really, really well. At least until he meets a dog with no hind legs.