The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
by Mark Twain
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Paragraph)
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)
Part of the fun in the competition, perhaps, is Smiley’s ability to fool others into believing that he’s a fool to engage in the bet that he makes. The animals he chooses to bet on don’t ever look like much, but they usually pull through in the end. How does Smiley manage to find such extraordinary animals? Maybe this it part of the "tall tale" element of the story.
"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." (para 6)
Andrew Jackson is the perfect dog for gambling: it’s almost as if he’s trained to know when money is on the table (and, in fact, he probably has been trained to do that). He also looks lazy and untrustworthy, when in fact he’s a born fighter. Is this a form of deception on Smiley’s part? Consider it this way: is there any kind of gambling that doesn’t involve some difference between appearance and reality? They always tell you about all those people who win the lottery – but have you ever actually met a big lottery winner? Well, maybe you have, but we certainly haven’t.
So he set there a good while thinking and thinking to hisself, and then he got the frog out and prized his mouth open and took a tea- spoon and filled him full of quail shot filled him pretty near up to his chin and set him on the floor. Smiley he went to the swamp and slopped around in the mud for a long time, and finally he ketched a frog, and fetched him in, and give him to this feller, and says:
"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. 17-18)
No doubt about it: the stranger is a cheater and a liar. Just at the point when Smiley usually thinks he has the stranger fooled into underestimating his frog, the stranger plays a much more deceptive trick by rigging the competition. The gambling may be silly and even destructive, but at least it’s fair. Have you no honor, stranger?