Rattlesnake Entrepreneur Proves Unwilling
To Share Expected Profit
a note from history...
An Eastern scientist wanted a pair of mated rattlesnakes for biology research in the 1870s. He offered to pay $50 for the delivery of such a pair to The Dalles, Oregon.
A man named Woodruff arranged to get such a pair from someone out on Rock Creek, near Goldendale, Washington, where there were lots of rattlers. He was to pay $20 for the pair, and planned to make a neat little profit on the deal. The catch was to be made just after the snakes came out of their winter den and were easy to sack.
Finally, word was sent that the snakes were ready. Woodruff went to Goldendale to collect the snakes. From there, he was to ride with the snakes on the regular stagecoach run to The Dalles.
Besides Woodruff, there were two other passengers on the stage, an old man who ran a flour mill and a lawyer. Woodruff had his snakes in a wooden box shoved under the seat where the other passengers couldn't see what was in it.
Unfortunately, the box had a large knot in one end near the bottom. The road was rough and the knot was jarred loose by the jolting. One of the snakes got out and crawled along the floor, right under Woodruff’s feet.
He saw it, yelled “snakes” and promptly jumped out of the stage.
The miller was napping. He woke up and said, “Woodruff’s got the dt’s.. Too much Goldendale whisky.”
By this time, the snake had reached his side of the stagecoach. The lawyer saw it, and said, “Woodruff may have them, but there’s a rattlesnake about to get you.”
The unperturbed miller looked down, told the snake that if it bit him, he would kill it, and kicked it back under the seat.
After the driver had the team stopped and the passengers had jumped out, Woodruff began to worry about how to get the snake back in the box.
The driver said he would put the snake back for $10. Woodruff offered $2.50. The driver said the snake could stay in the coach then, for all he cared. Finally, Woodruff agreed to the $10 fee.
With a forked stick, the driver got the snake headed back into the hole. Then Woodruff backed out, and said he wasn’t going to pay anything. The driver turned the snake loose again.
This performance was repeated several times, until the other two passengers got sore. Finally, Woodruff agreed once again to the $10 price. This time, the snake was all in but the rattles when Woodruff backed out again, saying it was “too easy.”
The miller, thoroughly irritated, stepped up and grabbed the snake by the tail. “Pay right now, or out the snake comes,” he stated.
Woodruff finally handed over the $10, and the snake went into the box. The hole was stuffed with a gunny sack and the trip was continued, with Woodruff making $10 less profit on the deal than he had planned on.
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