"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"
is an 1865 short story
by Mark Twain
. It was also published as "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"
and "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog."
In it, the narrator retells a story he heard from a bartender, Simon Wheeler, at the Angels Hotel
in Angels Camp, California
, about the gambler Jim Smiley. Twain describes him: "If he even seen a straddle bug start to go anywheres, he would bet you how long it would take him to get to—to wherever he 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."
Jim Smiley is addicted to gambling. He bets on anything from the death of Parson Walker's wife to fights between his bulldog pup, Andrew Jackson, and other dogs. One day a stranger to the town agrees to bet on a frog jumping higher than Jim's frog, Dan'l Webster. When Jim is not looking, the stranger pours a quail shot into Daniel Webster's mouth, making it impossible for him to jump at all. The stranger wins the $40 bet and escapes before Jim realizes the con.
Upon discovering a French
translation of this story, Twain re-translated the story, word for word and keeping the French grammar structure, back into English. He then published all three versions under the title "The Jumping Frog: In English, Then in French, and Then Clawed Back Into A Civilized Language Once More by Patient, Unremunerated Toil."
composed The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
, an opera in two scenes with libretto by Jean Karsavina, based on Twain's story. The opera premiered on May 18
, at Indiana University.
The story was also adapted as a scene in The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985 film), in which Mark Twain retells the story in short to Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher.