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"The Ransom of Red Chief"
written by O. Henry
adapted to radio drama by Don Kisner and Rick McVey

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Synopsis of the play.

Sam and Bill, a couple of down-on-their-luck con men, decide to kidnap the young son of a prosperous banker in Summit, a small Alabama town, to finance one of their crooked land deals in Illinois. They kidnap the boy and hide him in a cave a few miles from Summit. At the cave, they finalize their scheme to write a ransom letter asking for $2,000 ransom to return the boy. The boy, an eight-year old freckle-faced red-headed hellion, loves living in the cave. He treats the kidnapping as a wonderful adventure. Calling himself "Red Chief" he makes believe his kidnappers are really his captives. He plans to burn Sam at the stake and scalp Bill at daybreak. On the first night, the boy actually attempts to scalp Bill, using a sharp kitchen knife.

Throughout the story, Red Chief terrorizes Bill, whose job it is to placate the boy while Sam handles the various details of collecting the ransom. They write the ransom letter, but Bill convinces Sam that $2,000 is too much for a kid like Red Chief. They lower the ransom to $1500. Sam returns the carriage they had rented, and mails their ransom note.

The strain on Bill continues to worsen. Red Chief uses his sling shot to knock Bill out, making him fall across the campfire and puts a hot baked potato down Bill's back smashing it with his foot. Bill is made to play the horse in Red Chief's Black Scout game and is ridden ninety miles to the stockade and forced to eat sand for oats.

At last the reply from the boy's father arrives, but it is not what the kidnapers expect. Ebenzer Dorset answers the kidnappers' note with a counter-proposal. He'll accept his son back only if they pay him. To get the boy to return home with them, Sam tells Red Chief that his father has bought him a silver-mounted rifle and is planning to take him bear hunting. Sam and Bill gladly hand over Red Chief and $250.00 to the banker and flee town, poorer and wiser men.

 

 

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Last modified: November 06, 2013