An old pioneer story about a foolhardy young fiddler circulated around many frontier Texas campfires.
The fiddler named Adam Gimble didn't reach his 16th birthday. Folks claim he died from the bites of more than 100 rattlesnakes. Gimble was well-known for his fiddling at local barn dances, sometimes playing his fiddle while people danced until dawn.
One day a stranger dressed in black from head to toe rode into town. Folks noticed the faint whiff of sulfur followed him. He walked into the local cafe and said he wanted to hear the Gimble boy play his fiddle. Folks told the mysterious man that Gimble would be playing for a dance that night.
The next morning the stranger sank lower in everyone's opinions when he began criticizing their favorite musician at the town's only cafe. He said he'd heard music far sweeter. Gimble entered the cafe in time to hear every insult.
“I'll bet you can't charm a rattlesnake with your music,” said the stranger.
“What's it worth to you to find out?” asked Gimble
The stranger said he admired his spunk, but he also thought the boy had too much pride for his own good. He offered the boy $100 if he would play his fiddle for rattlesnakes.
Gimble agreed to the bet and climbed up a hill where he knew there were snake dens. Carrying his fiddle and his rifle, the brave but foolish lad found a large flat rock and started to play. Within an hour, rattlesnakes slithered from their dens to the base of the boulder.
Gimble shot 10 of the snakes, then picked up the largest, a seven-foot long viper, and tied it around the other snakes. He made quite a sight in town as he arrived at the cafe. The boy proudly plopped the bundle of snakes on the table in front of the stranger. The stranger quickly counted out $100 and rode quietly out of town.
The townspeople never saw the man in black again, but they remembered him and his horse, and that faint aroma of sulfur that followed them. (Read the rest of the story in "North Texas Tales" in the Nov. 3 edition of The Graham Leader.)