The Jumping Frog
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The Jumping Frog
Now that brings me by a natural and easy transition to Simon Wheeler of California; a pioneer he was, and in a small way a philosopher. Simon Wheelers creed was that pretty nearly everything that happens to a man can be turned to moral account; every incident in his life, almost, can be made to assist him, to project him forward morally, if he knows how to make use of the lesson which that episode teaches, and he used — well, he was a good deal of a talker. He was an inordinate talker; in fact, he wore out three sets of false teeth, and I told about a friend of his one day — a man that he had known there formerly, and who he had a great admiration for, of one Jim Smiley, and he said it was worth a mans while to know Jim Smiley. Jim Smiley was a man of gift; he was a man of parts; he was a man of learning; he was — well, he was the curiousest man about always betting on anything that turned up that you ever see, if he could get anybody to bet on the other side, and if he couldnt he would change sides. As soon as he got a bet he was satisfied. He prepared himself with all sorts of things — tomcats, rat terriers and all such things, and one day he ketched a frog; said he calculated to educate him. And he took him home and never done nothing but set in his back yard and learn that frog how to jump. Yes, sir, and he did learn him to — he did learn him to. When it came to jumping on a dead level there wasnt no frog that could touch him at all. Come to jump on the dead level, why, he could lay over any frog in the profession, and Smiley broke all the camps around there betting on that frog. Bye and bye he got a misfortune. He used to keep his frog in a little lattice box. The frogs name was Daniel Webster, and he would bring that box down town and lay for a bet. And one day a fellow came along, a stranger in the camp he was, he says, “What might it be that you have got in the box?” “Well,” Smiley says, “It aint anything particular, its only just a frog,” “Well,” he says, “What is he good for?” “Well,” Smiley says, “I dont know, but I think he is good enough — for one thing; he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County.” The stranger took that box, turned it around this way and that way, and he examined Daniel Webster all over very critically, and handed it back, and he said, “I dont see any points about that frog that is any better than any other frog.” “Oh,” Smiley said, “It may be that you understand frogs and may be that you are only an amateur, so to speak; anyway I will risk $40 that he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County.” Well, that stranger looked mighty sad, mighty sorrowful — grieved, and he said, “I am only a stranger in camp and I aint got no frog, but if I had a frog I would bet you.” Smiley says, “Thats all right, just you hold my frog a minute; I will go and get you a frog.” So Smiley lit out to the swamp and that stranger took that box and he stood there — well, he stood, and stood, and stood the longest time. At last he got Daniel Webster out of the box and pried his mouth open like that [indicating], took a teaspoonful and filled him full of quail shot, filled him full up to the chin and set him down on the floor. Daniel set there.

Smiley he flopped around in the swamp about half an hour. Finally he cotched a frog and fetched him to this fellow. They put up the money, and Smiley says: “Now, let the new frog down on the floor with his front paws just even with Daniels, and I will give the word.” He says, “One, two, three, scoot,” and they touched up the frogs from behind to indicate that time was called, and that new frog, he rose like a rocket and came down kerchunk a yard and a half from where he started, a perfectly elegant jump for a nonprofessional that way. But Smileys frog gave a heave or two with his shoulders — his ambition was up, but it was no use, he couldnt budge, he was anchored there as solid as an anvil. The fellow took the money, and finally, as he went over, he looked over his shoulder at Daniel, and he said: “Well, I dont see any points about that frog that is any better than any other frog.” And Smiley looked down at Daniel Webster, I never see a man so puzzled. And he says: “I do wonder what that frog throwed off for? There must be something the matter with him, looks mighty baggy somehow.” He hefted him, and says, “Blame my cats, if he dont weigh five pounds.” Turned him upside down and showered out a hatfull of shot. And Simon Wheeler said, “That has been a lesson to me.” And I say to you, let that be a lesson to you. Dont you put too much faith in the passing stranger. This life is full of uncertainties, and every episode in life, figuratively speaking, is just a frog. You want to watch every exigency as you would a frog, and dont you ever bet a cent on it until you know whether it is loaded or not.

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is the story of Peyton Farquhar, a Southern farmer who is about to be hanged by the Union army for trying to destroy the railroad bridge at Owl Creek. While the reader is led to believe he escapes under miraculous circumstances, it is revealed at the end of the story that Farquhar imagined his escape in the split seconds before his death.

Peyton Farquhar appears to have been “set-up” or tricked into attempting an act of sabotage (deliberate destruction of the Owl Creek Bridge). Here are the details from Part 2 which reveal this to us:

He is a slave-owner and secessionist from the South. He sympathizes with the Southern cause, but is “somehow” unable to fight. Nevertheless, “no service was too humble for him to perform in aid of the South, no adventure to perilous to undertake”.

The “grey-clad” soldier who comes to ask for water is not really a Confederate (Southern) soldier, but a spy from the Union army. “He was a Federal scout.”

The soldier, disguised as a Confederate soldier in a grey uniform, tells Peyton that the Yanks (Union/Federal army) are repairing the railroads and preparing for a major attack on the South and that “Any civilian caught interfering with the railroadwill be summarily hanged”.

Peyton, believing the soldier to be on the side of the South, shows keen interest in stopping the trains of the Union army and asks: “Suppose a man-a civilian…should elude the picket post (guard post) and perhaps get the better of the sentinel, what

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Jumping Frog And Jim Smiley. (April 12, 2021). Retrieved from