At one point during the story, Bill tells Sam that they have been together in many adventures, which include natural disasters such as fires, floods, cyclones, and earthquakes. In addition, they have experienced police raids and have been involved in poker games. He also mentions that they've been in train robberies together. Therefore, they seem to have been involved in gambling and theft in the past.
Bill and Sam are now attempting to commit what Sam refers to as a "a fraudulent town-lot scheme." To get the money necessary to carry out this scheme, they are trying to kidnap Ebenezer Dorset's ten-year-old son, who refers to himself as Red Chief, and to charge a ransom of $2,000. While they want to add fraud and kidnapping to their list of crimes, they are entirely unsuccessful as kidnappers. They wind up having to pay Dorset to take his horribly behaved child back at the end of the story.