In English. Then in French. Then clawed back into a civilized
language once more by patient, unremunerated toil.
Even a criminal is entitled to fair play; and certainly when a man who has done no harm has been unjustly treated, he is privileged to do his best to right himself. My attention has just been called to an article some three years old in a French Magazine entitled, Revue des Duex Mondes (Review of Some Two Worlds), wherein the writer treats of “Les Humoristes Americaines” (These Humorists Americans). I am one of these humorists Americans dissected by him, and hence the complaint I am making.
This gentleman’s article is an able one (as articles go in the
French, where they always tangle up everything to that degree
that when you start into a sentence you never know whether you
are going to come out alive or not). It is a very good article, and
the writer says all manner of kind and complimentary things
about me—for which I am sure I thank him with all my heart;
but then why should he go and spoil all his praise by one unlucky
experiment? What I refer to is this: he says my Jumping Frog
is a funny story, but still he can’t see why it should ever really
convulse any one with laughter—and straightway proceeds to
translate it into French in order to prove to his nation that there
is nothing so very extravagantly funny about it. Just there is
where my complaint originates. He has not translated it at all;
he has simply mixed it all up; it is no more like the Jumping
Frog when he gets through with it than I am like a meridian of
longitude. But my mere assertion is not proof; wherefore I
print the French version, that all may see that I do not speak
falsely; furthermore, in order that even the unlettered may know
my injury and give me their compassion, I have been at infinite
pains and trouble to retranslate this French version back into
English; and to tell the truth. I have well-nigh worn myself out
at it, having scarcely rested from my work during five days and
nights. I cannot speak the French language, but I can translate
very well, though not fast, I being self-educated. I ask the
reader to run his eye over the original English version of the
Jumping Frog, and then read the French or my retranslation,
and kindly take notice how the Frechman has riddled the grammar.
I think it is the worst I ever saw; and yet the French are
called a polished nation. If I had a boy that put sentences together
as they do, I would polish him to some purpose. Without
further introduction, the Jumping Frog, as I originally wrote it,
was as follows [after it will be found the French version, and
after the latter my retranslation from the French]:
In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me from the East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired after my friend’s friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as requested to do, and I hereunto append the result. I have a lurking suspicion that Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth; that my friend never knew such a personage; and that he only conjectured that if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him of his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me to death with some exasperating reminiscence of him as long and as tedious as it should be useless to me. If that was the design, it succeeded.
I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the barroom stove of the dilapidated tavern in the decayed mining camp of Angel’s, and I noticed that he was fat and baldheaded, and had an expression of winning gentleness and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance. He roused up, and gave me good day. I told him that a friend of mine had commissioned me to make some inquires about a cherished companion of his boyhood named Leonidas W. Smiley—Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, a young minister of the Gospel, whom he had heard was at one time a resident of Angel’s Camp. I added that if Mr. Wheeler could tell me anything about this Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, I would feel under many obligations to him.
Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded me there with his chair, and then sat down and reeled off the monotonous narrative which follows this paragraph. He never smiled, he never frowned, he never changed his voice from the gentle-flowing key to which he tuned his initial sentence, he never betrayed the slightest suspicion of enthusiasm; but all through the interminable narrative there ran a vein of impressive earnestness and sincerity; which showed me plainly that, so far from his imagining that there was anything ridiculous or funny about his story, he regarded it as a really important matter, and admired its two heroes as men of transcendent genius in finesse. I let him go on in his own way, and never interrupted him once.
“Rev. Leonidas W. H’m, Reverend Le—well, there was a feller here once by the name of Jim Smiley, in the winter of ’49—or maybe it was the spring of ’50—I don’t recollect exactly, somehow, though what makes me think it was one or the other is because I remember the big flame warn’t finished when he first come to the camp; but anyway, he was the curiousest man about always betting on anything that turned up you ever see, if he could get anybody to bet on the other side; and if he couldn’t he’d change sides. Any way that suited the other man would suit him—any way just so’s he got a bet, he was satisfied. But still he was lucky, uncommon lucky; he most always come out winner. He was always ready and laying for a chance; there couldn’t be no solit’ry thing mentioned but that feller’d offer to bet on it, and take ary side you please, as I was just telling you. If there was a horse-race, you’d find him flush or you’d find him busted at the end of it; if there was a dog-fight, he’d bet on it; if there was a cat-fight, he’d bet on it; if there was a chicken-fight, he’d bet on it; why, if there was two birds setting on a fence, he would bet you which one would fly first; or if there was a camp-meeting, he would be there reg’lar to bet on Parson Walker, which he judged to be the best exhorter about here, and so he was too, and a good man. If he even see a straddle-bug start to go anywheres, he would bet you how long it would take him to get to—to wherever he was 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. Lots of boys here has seen that Smiley, and can tell you about him. Why, it never made no difference to him—he’d bet on any thing—the dangdest feller. Parson Wajker’s wife laid very sick once, for a good while, and it seemed as if they warn’t going to save her; but one morning he come in, and Smiley up and asked him how she was, and he said she was considerable better—thank the Lord for his inf’nite mercy—and coming on so smart that with the blessing of Prov’dence she’d get well yet; and Smiley, before he thought, says, ‘Well, I’ll resk two-and-a-halt she don’t anyway.’
“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 among 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.
“And he had a little small bull-pup, that to look at him you’d think he warn’t 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 under-jaw’d begin to stick out like the fo’castle of a steamboat, and his teeth would uncover and shine like the furnares. 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 to it—not chaw, you understand, but only just grip and hang on till they throwed up the sponge, if it was a year. Smiley always come out winner on that pup, till he harnessed a dog once that didn’t have no hind legs, because they’d been sawed off in a circular saw, and when the thing had gone along far enough, and the money was all up, and he come to make a snatch for his pet holt, he see in a minute how he’d been imposed on, and how the other dog had him in the door, so to speak, and he ’peared surprised, and then he looked sorter discouraged-like, and didn’t try no more to win the fight, and so he got shucked out bad. He give Smiley a look as much as to say his heart was broke, and it was his fault, for putting up a dog that hadn’t no hind legs for him to take holt of, which was his main dependence in a fight, and then he limped off a piece and laid down and died. It was a good pup, was that Andrew Jackson, and would have made a name for hisself if he’d lived, for the stuff was in him and he had genius—I know, because he hadn’t no opportunities to speak of, and it don’t stand to reason that a dog could make such a fight as he could under them circumstances if he hadn’t no talent. It always makes me feel sorry when I think of that last fight of his’n, and the way it turned out.
“Well, thish-yer Smiley had rat-tarriers, and chicken cocks, and tomcats and all them kind of things, till you couldn’t rest. and you couldn’t fetch nothing for him to bet on but he’d match you. He ketched a frog one day, and took him home, and said he cal’lated to educate him; and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump. And you bet you he did learn him, too. He’d give him a little punch behind, and the next minute you’d see that frog whirling in the air like a doughnut — see him turn one summerset, or maybe a couple, if he got a good start, and come down flat-footed and all right, like a cat. He got him up so in the matter of ketching flies, and kep’ him in practice so constant, that he’d nail a fly every time as fur as he could see him. Smiley said all a frog wanted was education, and he could do ’most anything—and I believe him. Why, I’ve seen him set Dan’l Webster down here on this floor—Dan’l Webster was the name of the frog—and sing out, ‘Flies, Dan’l, flies!’ and quicker’n you could wink he’d spring straight up and snake a fly off’n the counter there, and hop down on the floor ag’in as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn’t no idea he’d been doin any more’n any frog might do. You never see a frog so modest and straightfor’ard as he was, for all he was so gifted. 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, particular look, and give it back to Smiley, and says, very deliberate, ‘Well,’ he says, ‘I don’t see no p’ints 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 that 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.’ And 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 pried 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 touched 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 feller 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 p’ints 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 katched 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. Leonidas W. Smiley, and so I started away.
At the door I met the sociable Wheeler returning, and he buttonholed me and recommenced:
“Well, thish-yer Smiley had a yaller one-eyed cow that didn’t have no tail, only just a short stump like a bannanner, and——”
However, lacking both time and inclination, I did not wait to hear about the afflicted cow, but took my leave.
Now let the learned look upon this picture and say if
iconoclasm2 can further go:
“—Il y avait une fois ici un individu connu sous le nom de Jim Smiley: c’était dans l’hiver de 49, peut-être bien au printemps de 50, je ne me rappelle pas exactement. Ce qui me fait croire que c’était l’un ou l’autre, c’est que je me souviens que le grand bief n’était pas achevé lorsqu’il arriva au camp pour la premiére fois, mais de toutes façons il était l’homme de plus friand de paris qui se pût voir, pariant sur tout ce qui se présentait, quand il pouvait trouver un adversaire, et, quand il n’en trouvait pas, il passait du côté opposé. Tout ce qui convenait à l’autre lui convenait; pourvu qu’il eût un pari, Smiley était satisfait. Et il avait une chance! une chance inouïe: presque toujours il gagnait. Il faut dire qu’il était toujours prêt à s’exposer qu’on ne pouvait mentionner la moindre chose sans que ce gaillard offrît de parier là-dessus n’importe quoi et de prendre le côté que l’on voudrait, comme je vous le disais tout à l’heure. S’il y avait des courses, vous le trouviez riche ou ruiné à la fin; s’il y avait un combat de chiens, il apportait son enjeu; il l’apportait pour un combat de chats, pour un combat de coqs;—parbleu! si vous aviez vu deux oiseaux sur une haie, il vous aurait offert de parier lequel s’envolerait le premier, et, s’il y avait meeting au camp, il venait parier régulièrement pour le curé Walker, qu’il jugeait être le meilleur prédicateur des environs, et qui l’était en effet, et un brave homme. Il aurait rencontré une punaise de bois en chemin, qu’il aurait parié sur le temps qu’il lui faudrait pour aller où elle voudrait aller, et si vous l’aviez pris au mot, il aurait suivi la punaise jusqu’au Mexique, sans se soucier d’aller si loin, ni du temps qu’il y perdrait. Une fois la femme du curé Walker fut très malade pendant longtemps, il semblait qu’on ne la sauverait pas; mais un matin le curé arrive, et Smiley lui demande comment ella va, et il dit qu’elle est bien mieux, grâce à l’infinie miséricorde, tellement mieux qu’avec la bénédiction de la Providence elle s’en tirerait, et voilá que, sans y penser, Smiley répond:—Eh bien! je gage deux et demi qu’elle mourra tout de même.
“Ce Smiley avait une jument que les gars appelaient le bidet du quart d’heure, mais seulement pour plaisanter, vous comprenez, parce que, bien entendu, elle était plus vite que ça! Et il avait coutume de gagner de l’argent avec cette bête, quoiqu’elle fût poussive, cornarde, toujours prise d’asthme, de coliques ou de consomption, ou de quelque chose d’approchant. On lui donnait 2 ou 300 yards au départ, puis on la dépassait sans peine; mais jamais à la fin elle ne manquait de s’échauffer, de s’exaspérer, et elle arrivait, s’écartant, se défendant, ses jambes grêles en l’air devant les obstacles, quelquefois les évitant et faisant avec cela plus de poussière qu’aucun cheval, plus de bruit surtout avec ses éternumens et reniflemens—crac! elle arrivait donc toujours première d’une tête, aussi juste qu’on peut le mesurer. Et il avait un petit bouledogue qui, à le voir, ne valait pas un sou; on aurait cru que parier contre lui c’était voler, tant il était ordinaire; mais aussitôt les enjeux faits, il devenait un autre chien. Sa mâchoire inférieure commençait à ressortir comme un gaillard d’avant, ses dents se découvraient brillantes commes des fournaises, et un chien pouvait le taquiner, l’exciter le mordre, le jeter deux ou trois fois par-dessus son épaule, André Jackson, c’était le nom du chien, André Jackson prenait cela tranquillement, comme s’il ne se fût jamais attendu à autre chose, et quand les paris étaient doublés et redoublés contre lui, il vous saisissait l’autre chien juste a l’articulation de la jambe de derrière, et il ne la lâchait plus, non pas qu’il la mâchât, vous concevez, mais il s’y serait tenu pendu jusqu’à ce qu’on jetât l’éponge en l’air, fallût-il attendre un an. Smiley gagnait toujours avec cette bête-là; malheureusement ils ont fini par dresser un chien qui n’avait pas de pattes de derrière, parce qu’on les avait sciées, et quand les choses furent au point qu’il voulait, et qu’il en vint à se jeter sur son morceau favori, le pauvre chien comprit en un instant qu’on s’était moqué de lui, et que l’autre le tenait. Vous n’avez jamais vu personne avoir l’air plus penaud et plus découragé; il ne fit aucun effort pour gagner le combat et fut rudement secoué, de sorte que, regardant Smiley comme pour lui dire:—Mon cœur est brisé, c’est ta faute; pourquoi m’avoir livré à un chien qui n’a pas de pattes de derrière, puisque c’est par là que je les bats?—il s’en alla en clopinant, et se coucha pour mourir. Ah! c’était un bon chien, cet André Jackson, et il se serait fait un nom, s’il avait vécu, car il y avait de l’etoffe en lui, il avait du génie, je la sais, bien que de grandes occasions lui aient manqué; mais il est impossible de supposer qu’un chien capable de se battre comme lui, certaines circonstances étant données, ait manqué de talent. Je me sens triste toutes les fois que je pense à son dernier combat et au dénoûment qu’il a eu. Eh bien! ce Smiley nourrissait des terriers à rats, et des coqs combat, et des chats, et toute sorte de choses, au point qu’il était toujours en mesure de vous tenir tête, et qu’avec sa rage de paris on n’avait plus de repos. Il attrapa un jour une grenouille et l’emporta chez lui, distant qu’il prétendait faire son éducation; vous me croirez si vous voulez, mais pendant trois mois il n’a rien fait que lui apprendre à sauter dans une cour retirée de sa maison. Et je vous réponds qu’il avait réussi. Il lui donnait un petit coup par derrière, et l’instant d’après vous voyiez la grenouille tourner en l’air comme un beignet au-dessus de la poêle, faire une culbute, quelquefois deux, lorsqu’elle était bien partie, et retomber sur ses pattes comme un chat. Il l’avait dressée dans l’art de gober des mouches, et l’y exerçait continuellement, si bien qu’une mouche, du plus loin qu’elle apparaissait, était une mouche perdue. Smiley avait coutume de dire que tout ce qui manquait à une grenouille, c’était l’éducation, qu’avec l’éducation elle pouvait faire presque tout, et je le crois. Tenez, je l’ai vu poser Daniel Webster là sur se plancher,—Daniel Webster était le nom de la grenouille,—et lui chanter:—Des mouches! Daniel, des mouches!—En un clin d’œil, Daniel avait bondi et saisi une mouche ici sur le comptoir, puis sauté de nouveau par terre, oû il restait vraiment à se gratter la tête avec sa patte de derrière, comme s’il n’avait pas eu la moindre idée de sa supériorité. Jamais vous n’avez grenouille vu de aussi modeste, aussi naturelle, douée comme elle l’était! Et quand il s’agissait de sauter purement et simplement sur terrain plat, elle faisait plus de chemin en un saut qu’aucune bête de son espèce que vous pussiez connaître. Sauter à plat, c’était son fort! Quand il s’agissait de cela, Smiley entassait les enjeux sur elle tant qu’il lui, restait un rouge liard. Il faut le reconnaître, Smiley était monstrueusement fier de sa grenouille, et il en avait le droit, car des gens qui avaient voyagé, qui avaient tout vu, disaient qu’on lui ferait injure de la comparer à une autre; de façon que Smiley gardait Daniel dans une petite boîte à claire-voie qu’il emportait parfois á la ville pour quelque pari.
“Un jour, un individu étranger au camp l’arrête avec sa boîte et lui dit;—Qu’est-ce que vous avez donc serré là dedans?
“Smiley dit d’un air indifférent:—Cela pourrait être un perroquet ou un serin, mais ce n’est rien de pareil, ce n’est qu’une grenouille.
“L’individu la prend, la regarde avec soin, la tourne d’un côté et de l’autre, puis il dit.—Tiens! en effet! A quoi est-elle bonne?
“—Mon Dieu! répond Smiley, toujours d’un air dégagé, elle est bonne pour une chose à mon avis, elle peut battre en sautant toute grenouille du comté de Calaveras.
“L’individu reprend la boîte, l’examine de nouveau longuement, et la rend à Smiley en disant d’un air délibéré:—Eh bien! je ne vois pas que cette grenouille ait rien de mieux qu’aucune grenouille.
“—Possible que vous ne la voyiez pas, dit Smiley, possible que vous vous entendiez en grenouilles, possible que vous ne vous y entendez point, possible que vous ayez de l’expérience, et possible que vous ne soyez qu’un amateur. De toute manière, je parie quarante dollars qu’elle battra en sautant n’importe quelle grenouille du comté de Calaveras.
“L’individu réfléchit une seconde et dit comme attristé:—Je ne suis qu’un étranger ici, je n’ai pas de grenouille; mais, si j’en avais une, je tiendrais le pari.
“—Fort bien! répond Smiley. Rien de plus facile. Si vous ovulez tenir ma boîte une minute, j’irai vous chercher une grenouille.—Voilà donc l’individu qui garde la boîte, qui met ses quarante dollars sur ceux de Smiley et quit attend. Il attend assez longtemps, réfléchissant tout seul, et figurez-vous qu’il prend Daniel, lui ouvre la bouche de force et avec une cuiller à thé l’emplit de menu plomb de chasse, mais l’emplit jusqu’au menton, puis il le pose par terre. Smiley pendant ce temps était à barboter dans une mare. Finalement il attrape une grenouille, l’apporte à cet individu et dit: Maintenant, si vous êtes prêt, mettez-la tout contre Daniel, avec leurs pattes de devant sur la même, ligne, et je donnerai le signal; puis il ajoute:—Un, deux, trois, sautez!
“Lui et l’individu touchent leurs grenouilles par derrière, et la grenouille neuve se met à sautiller, mais Daniel se soulève lourdement, hausse les épaules ainsi, comme un Français; à quoi bon? il ne pouvait bouger, il était planté solide comme une enclume, il n’avançait pas plus que si on l’eût mis à l’ancre. Smiley fut surpris et dégoûté, mais il ne se doutait pas du tour, bien entendu. L’individu empoche l’argent, s’en va, et en s’en allant est-ce qu’il ne donne pas un coup de pouce par-dessus l’épaule, comme ça, au pauvre Daniel, en disant de son air délibéré:—Eh bien! je ne vois pas que cette grenouille ait rien de mieux qu’une autre.
“Smiley se gratta longtemps la tête, les yeux fixés sur Daniel, jusju’à ce qu’enfin il dit:—Je me demande comment diable il se fait que cette bête ait refusé. . . . Est-ce qu’elle aurait quelque chose? . . . On croirait qu’elle est enflée.
“Il empoigne Daniel par la peau du cou, le soulève et dit:—Le loup me croque, s’il ne pèse pas cinq livres.
“Il le retourne, et le malheureux crache deux pougnées de plomb. Quand Smiley reconnut ce qui en était, il fut comme fou. Vous le voyez d’ici poser sa grenouille par terre et courir aprés cet individu, mais il ne le rattrapa jamais, et. . . .
It there was one time here an individual known under the name of Jim Smiley; it was in the winter of ’49, possibly well at the spring of ’50, I no me recollect not exactly. This which me makes to believe that it was the one or the other, it is that I shall remember that the grand flume is not achieved when he arrives at the camp for the first time, but of all sides he was the man the most fond of to bet which one have seen, betting upon all that which is presented, when he could find an adversary; and when he not of it could not, he passed to the side opposed. All that which convenienced to the other, to him convenienced also; seeing that he had a bet, Smiley was satisfied. And he had a chance! a chance even worthless; nearly always he gained. It must to say that he was always near to himself expose, but one no could mention the least thing without that this gaillard offered to bet the bottom, no matter what, and to take the side that one him would, as I you it said all at the hour (tout à l’heure). If it there was of races, you him find rich or ruined at the end; if it there is a combat of dogs, he bring his bet; he himself laid always for a combat of cats, for a combat of cocks;—by-blue! If you have see two birds upon a fence, he you should have offered of to bet which of those birds shall fly the first! and if there is meeting at the camp (meeting au camp) he comes to bet regularly for the curé Walker, which he judged to be the best predicator of the neighborhood (prédicateur des environs), and which he was in effect, and a brave man. He would encounter a bug of wood in the road, whom he will bet upon the time which he shall take to go where she would go—and if you him have take at the word, he will follow the bug as far as Mexique, without himself caring to go so far; neither of the time which he there lost. One time the woman of the curé Walker is very sick during long time, it seemed that one not her saved not; but one morning the curé arrives, and Smiley him demanded how she goes, and he said that she is well better, grace to the infinite misery (lui demande comment elle va, et il dit qu’elle est bien mieux, grâce à l’infinie miséricorde), so much better that with the benediction of the Providence she herself of it would pull out (elle s’en tirerait); and behold that without there thinking Smiley responds: “Well, I gage two-and-half that she will die all of same.”
This Smiley had an animal which the boys called the nag of the quarter of hour, but solely for pleasantry, you comprehend, because, well understand, she was more fast as that! [Now why that exclamation?—M. T.] And it was custom of to gain of the silver with this beast, notwithstanding she was poussive, cornarde, always taken of asthma, of colics or of consumption, or something of approaching. One him would give two or three hundred yards at the departure, then one him passed without pain; but never at the last she not fail of herself échauffer, of herself exasperate, and she arrives herself écartant, se défendant, her legs grêles in the air before the obstacles, sometimes them elevating and making with this more of dust than any horse, more of noise above with his éternumens and renitlemens—crac! she arrives then always first by one head, as just as one can it measure. And he had a mall bulldog (bouledogue!) who, to him see, no value, not a cent; one would believe that to bet against him it was to steal, so much he was ordinary; but as soon as the game made, she becomes another dog. Her jaw inferior counnence to project like a deck of before, his teeth themselves discover brilliant like some furnaces, and a dog could him tackle (le taquiner), him excite, him murder (le mordre), him throw two or three times over his shoulder, André Jackson—this was the name of the dog—André Jackson takes that tranquilly, as if he not himself was never expecting other thing, and when the bets were doubled and redoubled against him, he you seize the other dog just at the articulation of the leg of behind, and he not it leave more, not that he it masticate, you conceive, but he himself there shall be holding during until that one throws the sponge in the air, must he wait a year. Smiley gained always with this beast-là; unhappily they have finished by elevating a dog who no had not of feet of behind, because one them had sawed; and when things were at the point that he would, and that he came to himself throw upon his morsel favorite, the poor dog comprehended in an instant that he himself was deceived in him, and that the other dog him had. You no have never seen person having the air more penaud and more discouraged; he not made no effort to gain the combat, and was rudely shucked.
Eh bien! this Smiley nourished some terriers à rats, and some cocks of combat, and some cats, and all sorts of things; and with his rage of betting one no had more of repose. He trapped one day a frog and him imported with him (et l’emporta chez lui), saying that he pretended to make his education. You me believe if you will, but during three months he not has nothing done but to him apprehend to jump (apprendre à sauter) in a court retired of her mansion (de sa maison). And I you respond that he have succeeded. He him gives a small blow by behind, and the instant after you shall see the frog turn in the air like a grease-biscuit, make one summersault, sometimes two, when she was well started, and refall upon his feet like a cat. He him had accomplished in the art of to gobble the flies (gober des mouches), and him there exercised continually—so well that a fly at the most far that she appeared was a fly lost. Smiley had custom to say that all which lacked to a frog it was the education, but with the education she could do nearly all—and I him believe. Tenez, I him have seen pose Daniel Webster there upon this plank—Daniel Webster was the name of the frog—and to him sing, “Some flies, Daniel, some flies!”—in a flash of the eye Daniel had bounded and seized a fly here upon the counter, then jumped anew at the earth, where he rested truly to himself scratch the head with his behind foot, as if he no had not the least idea of his superiority. Never you not have seen frog as modest, as natural, sweet as she was. And when he himself agitated to jump purely and simply upon plain earth, she does more ground in one jump than any beast of his species than you can know. To jump plain—this was his strong. When he himself agitated for that, Smiley multiplied the bets upon her as long as there to him remained a red. It must to know, Smiley was monstrously proud of his frog, and he of it was right, for some men who were traveled, who had all seen, said that they to him would be injurious to him compare to another frog. Smiley guarded Daniel in a little box latticed which he carried by-times to the village for some bet.
One day an individual stranger at the camp him arrested with his box and him said:
“What is this that you have them shut up there within?”
Smiley said, with an air indifferent:
“That could be a paroquet, or a syringe (on un serin), but this no is nothing of such, it not is but a frog.”
The individual it took, it regarded with care, it turned from one side and from the other, then he said:
“Tiens! in effect!—At what is she good?”
“My God!” respond Smiley, always with an air disengaged, “she is good for one thing, to my notice (à mon avis), she can batter in jumping (elle peut battre en sautant) all frogs of the county of Calaveras.”
The individual retook the box, it examined of new longly, and it rendered to Smiley in saying with an air deliberate:
“Eh bien! I no saw not that that frog had nothing of better than each frog.” (Je ne vois pas que cette grenouille ait rien de mieux qu’aucune grenonille.) [If that isn’t grammar gone to seed, then I count myself no judge.—M. T.]
“Possible that you not it saw not,” said Smiley, “possible that you—you comprehend frogs; possible that you not you there comprehend nothing; possible that you had of the experience, and possible that you not be but an amateur. Of all manner (De toute manière) I bet forty dollars that she batter in jumping no matter which frog of the county of Calaveras.”
The individual reflected a second, and said like sad:
I not am but a stranger here, I no have not a frog; but if I of it had one, I would embrace the bet.”
“Strong well!” respond Smiley; “nothing of more facility. If you will hold my box a minute, I go you to search a frog (j’irai vous chercher).”
Behold, then, the individual, who guards the box, who puts his forty dollars upon those of Smiley, and who attends (et qui attend). He attended enough longtimes, reflecting all solely. And figure you that he takes Daniel, him opens the mouth by force and with a teaspoon him fills with shot of the hunt, even him fills just to the chin, then he him puts by the earth. Smiley during these times was at slopping in a swamp. Finally he trapped (attrape) a frog, him carried to that individual, and said:
“Now if you be ready, put him all against Daniel, with their before feet upon the same line, and I give the signal”—then he added: “One, two, three—advance!”
Him and the individual touched their frogs by behind, and the frog new put to jump smartly, but Daniel himself lifted ponderously, exalted the shoulders thus, like a Frenchman—to what good? he not could budge, he is planted solid like a church, he not advance no more than if one him had put at the anchor.
Smiley was surprised and disgusted, but he not himself doubted not of the turn being intended (mais il ne se doutait pas du tour, bien entendu). The individual empocketed the silver, himself with it went, and of it himself in going is it that he no gives not a jerk of thumb over the shoulder—like that—at the poor Daniel, in saying with his air deliberate—(L’individu empoche l’argent, s’en va et en s’en allant est-ce qu’il ne donne pas un coup de pouce par-dessus l’épaule, comme ça, au pauvre Daniel, en disant de son air délibéré):
“Eh bien! I no see not that that frog has nothing of better than another.”
Smiley himself scratched longtimes the head, the eyes fixed upon Daniel, until that which at last he said:
“I me demand how the devil it makes itself that this beast has refused. Is it that she had something? One would believe that she is stuffed.”
He grasped Daniel by the skin of the neck, him lifted and said
“The wolf me bite if he no weigh not five pounds.”
He him reversed and the unhappy belched two handfuls of
shot (et le malheureux, etc.). When Smiley recognized how it
was, he was like mad. He deposited his frog by the earth and
ran after that individual, but he not him caught never.
Such is the Jumping Frog, to the distorted French eye. I
claim that I never put together such an odious mixture of bad
grammar and delirium tremens in my life. And what has a poor
foreigner like me done, to be abused and misrepresented like
this? When I say, “
Well, I do’t see no ’ints about that frog
that’s any better’n any other frog,” is it kind, is it just, for this
Frenchman to try to make it appear that I said, “Eh bien! I no
saw not that that frog had nothing of better than each frog”?
I have no heart to write more. I never felt so about anything