MT jumped into national prominence on the basis of this tale about Jim Smiley and his frog, first published in a New York newspaper in November 1865 and quickly reprinted around the country. Though MT later discounted it as a "villainous backwoods sketch," it already adumbrates motifs that would stick with him throughout his career -- including the use of a vernacular speaker and the unexplained appearance of a mysterious stranger. MT also kept returning to the tale itself, often giving a shortened version of it in his lectures and readings -- including the tour with Cable he arranged to promote Huck Finn. I include it among the sources of Huck Finn, though, essentially for the way it shows MT developing the possibilities of a deadpan narrator. Like Simon Wheeler, Huck tells a tale that is designed to make readers laugh without, as MT puts it below, "without ever smiling." From early on in his career, MT believed that when a humorist gave no sign that he understood the meaning of the story he was telling it made the audience that much more likely to laugh.