Why do Bill and Sam agree to the terms of Mr. Dorset's letter in "The Ransom of Red Chief" by O. Henry?

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kathik | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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In "The Ransom of Red Chief" by O. Henry, Sam and Bill hold a little boy for a ransom of $1500.00, but in the end, they pay the boy's father $250.00 to take him back. Why would they go through all that planning and all that trouble to pay Johnny's father in the end? 

First of all, Sam and Bill had no idea what they were getting into when they kidnapped Johnny Dorset. Right away, he started a game of "Indian" in which he was Red Chief, Bill was renamed Old Hank the Trapper, and Sam became Snake-eye the Spy. Poor Bill ends up being tortured by this boy whenever Sam is away, and by the end of the story, he's had to be a horse for Red Chief, he's almost been scalped, he's been hit in the side of the head with a rock, and he's had a just boiled potato shoved down his shirt.

So, when the men receive the letter from Mr. Dorset, telling them he will take Johnny back for $250.00, Bill is more than ready to give it to him.

"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."

Sam agrees, and they pay the money.

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