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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

'Perhaps,' says I to myself, it has not yet been discovered that the wolves have borne away the tender lambkin from the fold.  Heaven hel the wolves!'says I.  The "two-legged skyrocket of a kid" in "The Ransom of Red Chief" is not exactly mean; he is a terror for the ones who steal him.  In fact, herein lies the humor of the story: Two 'city slicker' tricksters have underestimated the underdogs in a rural Alabama town that they assume will only have a couple of constables and some lackadaisical bloodhounds.

What Snake-Eye and Bill do encounter is a boy who, after they have kidneapped him, turns the role of captor and captive around.  It is the boy who, from the start, terrorizes Bill. Yet, the child seems to be having the time of his life, play-acting with his captives. Finally, after Red Chief threatens to strike Bill, Bill begs his partner to return the boy.

The misadventures of the boy continue as he rides Bill like a horse and places a boiled potato down his shirt and smashes it.  Exasperated beyond his senses, Bills boxes the boy on his ears.  The "forty pounds of freckled wildcat" threatens, then, to hit Bill with a rock.

Finally, the kidnappers receive a letter, in response to theirs, saying that they can pay $250.00 and return the boy to his parents in the cover of night.  They agree. Foiled, they have paid rather than extorted a ransom fee of $2000.

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The Ransom of Red Chief

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