The rattlesnake game

One day a man walked in the saloon carrying a big glass jar with a live rattlesnake in it. He wanted to sell it. Frank says: “Hell, no, they see snakes soon enough.”

But the man kept arguing with him. He says: “It’s big money for you if you’ll buy it. Now I’ll bet the drinks for the house there ain’t a man here that can hold his finger on that glass and keep it there when the snake strikes.”

To show you what a bonehead I was, I took him up. It was thick glass and I knew damn well the snake couldn’t bite me, so I put my finger on it. The snake struck, and away come my finger. Igot mad and made up my mind I would hold my finger on that glass or bust. It cost me seventeen dollars before I quit, but since then I’ve never bucked the other fellow’s game and it has saved me a lot of money.

Frank bought the snake and he sure made money on it. It was lots of fun to get some sucker that thought he was long on nerve to go against it; no one ever could. But one night a bunch of cowboys came in and I knew some of them. They all tried the snake and failed, and one of them got mad and busted the glass with his sixshooter, and the snake got out and they had to kill it.

that from an excerpt from We Pointed Them North by E. C. Abbott, “Teddy Blue.” In his In A Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas Larry McMurtry says:

Anticipating a road trip to the northern plains I’ve been reading up. I’m good as long as I have a coming road trip to think about.

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