The Ransom of Red Chief Page: 9
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THE SATURDAY EVENING POST
:he dastardly kidnapers. But 'what I saw vas a peaceful
landscape dotted with one man plowing with a dun mule.
Nohody was dragging the creek; no couriers dashed hither
and -'on, bringing tidings of no news to the distracted
parents. There was a sylvan attitude of somnolent sleepi-
n-ss pervading that section of the external outward sur-
!tt of Alabama that lay exposed to my view. ' Perhaps,"
S.I to myself, "it has not yet been discovered that the
,Ives have borne aw.ay the tender lambkin from the
:,ld. Heaven help the wolves!" say-s I, and I went down
h mountain to breakfast.
Wht'n I got to the cave I found Bill backed up against
!n, side of it, breathing hard, and the boy threatening to
:iash him with a rock half as big as a cocoanut.
" He put a red-hot boiled potato down my back," ex-
plained Bill, 'and thtn mashed it with his foot; and I
itoxied his ears. Have you got a gun about you, Sam'?"
I took the rock away from the boy and kind of patched
up the argument. "I'll fix you," says the kid to Bill.
"No man ever yet struck the Red Chief but what he got
paid for it. You better beware!"
After breakfast the kid takes a piece of leather with
strings wrapped around it out of his pocket and goes out-
side the cave unwinding it.
''"What's he up to now?" says Bill, anxiously. "You
don't think he'll run away, do you, Sam?"
" No fear of it," says I. "''IHe ton't seem to be much of a
home body. But we've got to fix up some plan about the
ransom. 'There don't seem to be much excitement around
Summit on account of his disappearance; but maybe they
haven't realized yet that he's gone. His folks may think
he's spending the night with Aunt Jane or one of the
neighbors. Anyhow, he'll he missed to-day. To-night
we\\' must get a message to his father demanding the two
thousand dollars for his return."
,Just then we heard a kind of war-whloop, such as David
might have emitted when he knocked out the champion
Goliath. It was it sling that Red Chief had pulled out of
his Ipocket, and he was whirling it around his head.
I dodged, and heard i heavy thud and a kind of a sigh
from Bill, like it horse gives out w\\htn you take his saddle
ofl. A iggierhead rock the size of an egg had caught Bill
just hbethind his left ear. ieI loosened himself all over and
fell in tlhe fire across the frying-pan of' hot water for \\washing
the dishes. I drai:rged him
out anld poured cold wat'r
on his head fttior half an hour.
By and yl Bill sits tup
and feels behind his etar and "
.s: "Sam, do you know d
Sh my favorite Biblical
'aracte r is?'"
' Tlake it easy ," says I.
NYou'll comll' to y our
se s rest/ ly.
SKin HeIrod," says he. i
'You won't go awayxx and
leave nue here alone, will
you, Saim'?" ' '
I went out and cau ht
lthtl bo - and shoo]ik Iim. 1,..
until his freckh < .: I.0
'If you don't behave." says I.
"I'll take you straight home. Now,
are you going to be good, or not?"
"I was only funning," says he
sullenly. "I didn't mean to hurt
Old Hank. But what did he hit me
for? I'll behave. Snake-eye. if you
won't send nme home, and if you'll t It
me play the Black Scout to-day."
"I don't know the game," says I.
"That's for you and Mr. Bill to de-
cide. He's your playmate for the
day. I'm going aw\\ay for a while,
on business. Now, you come in and
make friends with him and say you
are sorry for hurting him, or home
you go, at once."
I made him and Bill shake hands,
and then I took Bill aside and told
him I was going to Poplar Cove,
a little village three miles from the
cave, and find out what I could -
about how the k idnaping had been .
been regarded in Summit. Also,
I thought it best to send a per-
emptory letter to old nman Dorset
that day, demanding the ransom
and dictate ing how it should be paid. 1 Heard
"You k n ow, Sam," says Bill,
"I've stood by you without batting
an eye in earthquakes, fire and ilood in pokergames, dyna-
mite outrages, police raids, train robberies and cyclones.
I never lost m y nerve yet till xwe kidnapped that
two-legged skyrocket of a kid. Hle's got nm going.
You won't leave ime long with him, will you, Sam? "
"I'll be back some tintme this afternoon," says I.
" You must keep the boy amused anid quiet till I re-
turn. And now we'll write theletter to old I )orset."
Bill and I got paper and pencil and worked on
the tlter while Red Chief, with a blanket wrapped
around him, strutted up and down, guarding the
mouth of the cav\-e. Bill begged me tearfully to
make the :'ransom fifteen hundrt d dollars instead of
t\\o thousand. "I' ain't att empting," says he, 'to
decry the celebrated moral aspect of parental afifc-
tion, but we're dealing with humans, and it ain't
human for anybody to giveup twi e thousand dollars
for that forty-pound chunk of fr1'eckltd wildcat. I'm
willing to take it chanc at fil'teen hundred dollars.
I You can charge the diffrencet up 1to mn."
So, to relieve Bill, I acc' dei , a:nd w\\e' c.ollahorallti
a letter that ran this \way:
El tzer Doract, ..:
We have your boy concealed in a place' far from
Stunoiit. It is useless foir you or lhti lost skillful
detectives to attempt to lined him. A}bsolutely, the
only terms on which you can have him restored to
you are thelise: We demand fifteen hundred dollars
in large hills for his return ; the money to he left at
midnight to-night at the same spot and in the same
box as your reply--as hereinafter described. If y'ou
/ agree to these terms, send your answer in writing
' by a solitary messenger to-nighlt at half-past eight
o'clock. After crossingg (lwl ('t'ek, on lhe road to
PoIlar Cove, ther1 are three large trees aout it
hundred yards aparl , close to the fetnce of the
wheat field on the right-hand side. At the bottom
of the fence-post, opposite theI third tree, \will he
found a small pasteboard botx.
Th mssenger will place the answer in this box and
return immediately to Sullnit.
If tyou attempitt nit y tre cl'Lhc or fail to comply with our
tde(ind as stated, Vou will inivr stee your b(li again.
If otu lIpay the nitty as it dmanded, he w illI' t ri urnd
to vou safti and xwell within threc hours. 'These terms ari i
final, and if you do not accede to them no further com-
munication will be attempted. rTwc DIsIt r: Ali x .I
I addressed this letter to I)orset, and put it in my pocket.
As I was about to start, the kid comes up to me and says:
SAw,. Snake-eye, you said I could play
the Black Scout xhie y wuas gone."
4 4 K
", . q '- ./.u e"
w. . ".I
a Heavy Thud and a Kind of a Sigh from Bill. Like a Illrs
Gives Out When You lTake Hlis Saddle Off
"Play it, of course, says 1. "''Mr. Bill will Olay with
you. WXhat kind of a :gam is it ? "
"I'm the Black Scout ," sas lkied ('hief, "and I have to
ride to the stoclkade to warn the si lei s that the I dlian,
arecoming. I'm tired of playing Indian myself. I want 10o
be the Black Scout."
"All right," says 1. "It sounds h:armless to me. 1
guess Mr. Bill will help you foil the pei'sky saxaw'.(s."
"What amn I to do?" asks Bill, looking at the kid, su-
" You are the hoss," says the Black Scout. "Get down
on otur hands and knees. Iow can I ride to thei stocklade
without a hoss?"
" You'd better keep him interested," said I, "tlill we' get
the scheme going. ILoosen up."
Bill gets down on his all fours, and a look comnIs in his
eye like a rabbit's w then ou catch it in a trap.
"loow far is it to the stockade, kid? " he asks, in i husk':
manner of toic'.
"Ninety miles," says the 1lack Scout. "And you have
to hump yourself to gc trl Ir on time. Whoa, now!"
The Black Scout jumps on Bill's back alld digs his heels
in his side.
"For Heaven's sake," say's Bill, " hurry back, Sam, as
soon as you can. 1 wish \we hadn't mad' the ransom Molell'
than ai thousand. Say, you quit kicking me or I'll get up
and w:arnl you good."
I walked over to Poplar ('Cove and sat around the lpost-
oflice and store, talking with the chawbacons that came in
to tratlde. ()One whiskerando says t hat he hears Summit i: a!l
upset on account of lder Eb'enezer Ilorset's hiy havinii
been lost or stolen. That was all I wanted ito now. I
bought some siioking tobacco, referred casually to tlu'
price of blatck-eyed peas, tposted my letlir surret itiously,
and came away. The postmaster said the mail-carrier
would come yV in anll lhoi ilur t tkl thl mail n Io Sunnliit.
ihen I got back to lih l' caet Bill and Ithe boy weret not
to ie found. I explored lhe vicinity y of the cave, and risked
a yodel or two, Ibultt Ihr ws no response.
So 1 lighted ty pipe andt sat ion on ia mossy hiank I
await d ivelopment s.
In about half an hour I heard the bushes rustle, aind
Bill wabhled out into the lilli ' glade in front of lh' c ie.
Behind him was he kid, stpp int soft ly like it sc l, ii t
a i t tad grin on his fact. Bill stopped took ,off his hal aiIid
w iped his fxcw with a red h Indl:e''chief. 'The kid sloppedt
about tight feet behind him.
"Sam," siys Bill, " I suppose you'll think I'm I relne-
gade, tbut I tcouldn' t help it. I'm a growt'n ''person with
masculine iproclivities and habits of silf-defnse, but there
is ai liilt, wh n tall sysltils
of e.got ism and prdoni-
ian' fail. Th' Itoy is guilt.
Sfai.Ii I have sent him home. All
is off. Thr was nart i
in told times," goos on lil,
S'i that suffer d dat hI ral tr
than giv up lith part icular
f Ixraft t hy ,njoyd. None
of ' '' over was subjugated
to such superinatutralT 1t
turs as I have hootn. I
/ trie.d! to be faithful to (ow
art icles of depredatiol
Sibul tir' came a limit "
" XWhat's th trol t I,
. .,i ?" I asks him.
r,w, a m~l , , +w, 1 / 'I
At ialf-Pa t ib-ht I was Up in that Tree
Ls I II I I M -
- I - I II
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Reference the current page of this Prose (Fiction).
Henry, O., 1862-1910. The Ransom of Red Chief, prose (fiction), July 6, 1907; Philadelphia. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth139425/m1/3/: accessed February 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.