The Ransom of Red Chief (Henry)

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The Ransom of Red Chief
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Two kidnappers abducted a wealthy man's son, but the boy's wild behavior and antics led them to return him and pay the father for taking him back.

Two men, Bill Driscoll and his partner, were in Alabama when they decided to kidnap a young boy for ransom. They chose the only child of a prominent citizen named Ebenezer Dorset, a ten-year-old boy with red hair and freckles.

Sam — narrator; one of the kidnappers; more patient with the boy.
Bill Driscoll — another kidnapper; easily annoyed and tormented by the boy.
Johnny Dorset (Red Chief) — kidnapped boy; imaginative, mischievous, and wild.
Ebenezer Dorset — Johnny's father; wealthy, stern, and shrewd.

They took the boy to a cave on a mountain, where they planned to keep him until they received the ransom money. However, the boy turned out to be more than they bargained for. He was wild and uncontrollable, constantly causing trouble for his captors. Despite their best efforts to keep him entertained and under control, the boy continued to make life difficult for the two men.

I never had such fun in all my life.

Eventually, they decided to send a ransom note to the boy's father, demanding $1,500 for his safe return.

We demand fifteen hundred dollars in large bills for his return; the money to be left at midnight to-night at the same spot and in the same box as your reply.

They received a surprising response from the father, who counter-offered that they return the boy and pay him $250 instead.

You bring Johnny home and pay me two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and I agree to take him off your hands.

Desperate to be rid of the troublesome child, the men agreed to the deal. They returned the boy to his father's house at midnight, where they paid the father the agreed-upon sum. The boy was reluctant to leave his captors, having enjoyed his time with them, but his father managed to pry him away. The two men then made their escape, with Bill running as fast as he could to put as much distance between himself and the boy as possible.