And when it come to fair and square jumping on a dead level, he could get over more ground at one straddle than any animal of his breed you ever see. Jumping on a dead level was his strong suit, you understand; and when it come to that, Smiley would ante up money on him as long as he had a red. Smiley was monstrous proud of his frog, and well he might be, for fellers that had traveled and been everywheres all said he laid over any frog that ever they see.
"Well, Smiley kep' the beast in a little lattice box, and he used to fetch him down-town sometimes and lay for a bet. One day a feller --a stranger in the camp, he was--come acrost him with his box, and says:
"'What might it be that you've got in the box?'
"And Smiley says, sorter indifferent-like, 'It might be a parrot, or it might be a canary, maybe, but it ain't--it's only just a frog.'
"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, partiular look, and give it back to Smiley, and says, very deliberate, 'Well,' he says, 'I don't see no pints about that frog that's any better'n any other frog.'
"'Maybe you don't,' Smiley says. 'Maybe you understand frogs and maybe you don't understand 'em; maybe you've had experience, and maybe you ain't only a amature, as it were. Anyways, I've got my opinion, and I'll resk forty dollars the he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County.'
"And the feller studied a minute, and then says, kinder sad-like, 'Well, I'm only a, stranger here, and I ain't got no frog; but if I had a frog, I'd bet you.
"And then Smiley says, 'That's all right--that's all right if you'll hold my box a minute, I'll go and get you a frog.' Any so the feller took the box, and put up his forty dollars along with Smiley's, and set down to wait.
"So he set there a good while thinking and thinking to himself and then he got the frog out and prized his mouth open and took a teaspoon 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's, and I'll give the word.' Then he says, 'One-two- three--git' and him and the feller touches up the frogs from behind, and the new frog hopped off lively but Dan'l give a heave, and hysted up his shoulders---so-like a Frenchman, but it warn't no use--he couldn't budge; he was planted as solid as a church, 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.
"The Teller took the money and started away; and when he was going out at the door, he sorter jerked his thumb over his shoulder--so--at Dan'l, and says again, very deliberate, 'Well,' he says, 'I don't see no pints about that frog that's any better'n any other frog.'
"Smiley he stood scratching his head and looking down at Dan'l a long time, and at last he says, 'I do wonder what in the nation that frog throw'd off for--I wonder if there ain't something the matter with him --he 'pears to look mighty baggy, somehow.' And he ketched Dan'l by the nap of the neck, and hefted him, and says, 'Why blame my cats if he don't weigh five pound!' and turned him upside down and he belched out a double handful of shot. And then he see how it was, and he was the maddest man --he set the frog down and took out after that feller, but he never ketched him. And--"
[Here Simon Wheeler heard his name called from the front yard, and got up to see what was wanted.] And turning to me as he moved away, he said: "Just set where you are, stranger, and rest easy--I ain't going to be gone a second."
But, by your leave, I did not think that a continuation of the history of the enterprising vagabond Jim Smiley would be likely to afford me much information concerning the Rev.