What is a summary of "The Ransom of the Red Chief"?
In this short story by O. Henry, two petty criminals, Sam and Bill, have come up with a surefire way to acquire the two thousand dollars they need to pull off "a fraudulent town-lot scheme in Western Illinois." They kidnap the child of one of the wealthiest citizens of the Alabama town of Summit. The boy, Johnny, immediately dubs himself "Red Chief" and spends the night "playing" with the two outlaws. Red Chief is hyperactive, garrulous, and downright mean. Even worse, he seems to be having the time of his life at the remote mountain camp and doesn't want to go home, causing the men to believe they have no means of motivating him to cooperate. While the boy continues to terrorize Bill, Sam makes his way into the town to determine whether there is a stir because of the missing boy. No one seems concerned. The men then pen a ransom note to Ebenezer Dorset, the boy's father, demanding $1500. Bill has already negotiated the ransom fee downward, assuming no one would pay $2000 "for that forty-pound chunk of freckled wildcat." Dorset responds to the note with a counter-offer, agreeing to take the boy back if they come at night and pay him $250. He says he can't be responsible for what the neighbors might do if they see the men returning the boy to the neighborhood. The men acquiesce, with Bill making the following argument to Sam:
“Sam ... 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."
The men return the boy, paying the ransom to his father, and leave town as quickly as they can.
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