In this story of ironic reversals, even the protagonists and antagonists are transposed. The boy whom Bill and Sam kidnap becomes their foe and they, who have done the kidnapping and should be the antagonists, find themselves in the positions of protagonists.
Sam narrates at the beginning of the narrative:
We chose for our victim -- the only child of an influential citizen named Ebenezer Dorset.... Bill and I thought that Ebenezer would pay a ransom of two thousand dollars to get his boy back. But wait till I tell you.
This red-headed boy of ten turns out to be more than Bill can handle; for instance, when the men kidnap Johnny Dorset, the son of Ebenezer Dorset, the bank manager and wealthiest man in Summit, Alabama, the boy immediately hits Bill with a brick, and he fights violently with the men:
That boy put up a fight like a wild animal. But, at last, we got him down in the bottom of the carriage and drove away.
Then, while Sam returns the rented buggy, little Johnny reverses roles as he becomes a violent Indian who holds Bill captive. Bill tells Jim,
"I'm Old Hank, the trapper, Red Chief's captive. Im going to be scalped at daybreak. By Geronimo! That kid can kick hard."
Red Chief continues to terrorize Bill when Sam goes down the mountain where they are hiding in order to drop off the ransom note. When Mr. Dorset reads the note, he makes a counter-offer that the men pay him to take the boy off their hands, stipulating that it be at night so that no one can witness the boy's kidnap. So, the two kidnappers end up paying the father to reclaim his son, the initial victim who becomes the men's antagonist.