In the story, the narrator is asked by a friend of his to see if he can find anything out about a guy named Leonidas Smiley. Smiley was a friend of the narrator's friend.
So the narrator goes and talks to a guy named Simon Wheeler. Wheeler starts to tell him all kinds of tall tales. The stories all have to do with the exploits of a guy named Jim Smiley. Jim Smiley is supposed to have been a real gambler and Wheeler tells all sorts of tall tales about Smiley's gambling. Among these tall tales is the story of the jumping frog.
In "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Mark Twin, the narrator hears the story of the jumping frog from Simon Wheeler. He embarks on a trip to find Wheeler at the behest of a friend of his (the narrator’s). He subsequently finds Wheeler in an old tired looking tavern. The narrator’s friend wants him to enquire of Simon Wheeler about a boyhood friend named Leonidas W. Smiley.
What follows in this story is that Simon Wheeler reveals stories about another man named Smiley – a Jim Smiley. This Jim Smiley is a real gambler and will bet on anything and everything, so much so that Wheeler says that, “…if there was two birds setting on a fence, he would bet you which one would fly first.”
This Jim Smiley had a frog that he said could out jump any frog in the county. Wheeler reveals that Jim Smiley said that he worked hard for months to train this frog to jump expertly. Therefore, he is ready to lay bets and make money on “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”
Smiley meets his match one day when he desires to bet a man that his frog will win a jumping contest against this man’s frog. The bet offered to the man is a forty dollar bet. However, the man says he has no frog. Smiley offers to go down to the water to get the man a frog for the betting contest. While Smiley is gone, the man fills the frog’s mouth with ‘shot’, which weighs him down. When it comes time for the contest the frog is too heavy to jump properly and the man wins the bet over Smiley.
Therefore, the narrator hears this story because of somewhat of a misunderstanding. He goes to enquire about a different Smiley and hears this tale of the rambunctious and offbeat Jim Smiley and his famous or now, not-so-famous frog in Calaveras County.