What happens in "The Ransom of Red Chief" after the kidnappers receive the reply to their ransom demand?  

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It doesn't take Bill and Sam any time at all to decide to accept Ebenezer Dorset's counteroffer. The two would-be kidnappers have already had enough of Red Chief. Getting rid of him for only $250 seems like a bargain. Bill is especially eager because he has had the boy on his hands most of the time and has suffered the worst.

“Sam,” says he, “what’s two hundred and fifty dollars, after all? We’ve got the money. One more night of this kid will send me to a bed in Bedlam. Besides being a thorough gentleman, I think Mr. Dorset is a spendthrift for making us such a liberal offer. You ain’t going to let the chance go, are you?”

The story is wrapped up very quickly. They trick Red Chief into returning home by telling him his father has bought him a rifle and a pair of moccasins and that they were all going bear-hunting the next day. When the boy realizes he has been tricked, he howls and struggles. After collecting the $250 reverse ransom, Red Chief's father tells Bill and Sam that he can only be sure of holding the struggling boy for ten minutes. The two men take off at a run and leave the town of Summit far behind them.

Red Chief is a exaggerated version of all the worst traits of small boys. The moral of the story could be stated as "Crime does not pay," but it might also be stated as "The cobbler should stick to his last." These two crooks get into trouble because they get into a line of crime with which they are totally inexperienced. They can't control Red Chief because they have no moral authority, and he knows it. Once they become kidnappers they are morally bankrupt. In paying $250 to Red Chief's father, they are not only getting rid of a hellcat, but they are buy back a small amount of respectability.


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The Ransom of Red Chief

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