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Cowboy, a reporter, a clerk in a bank; he travelled about

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America trying to find a job. He met many common
people, and that helped him later in his literary work.
O. Henry is a great master of short story. Common
people, whose life he knew very well, are the main
characters of his stories.  
Here is a humorous story about two tramps who want­
ed to get money by kidnapping the son of rich parents
and demanding a ransom for him.  



The Ransom of Red Chief




It looked a good thing; but wait till I tell you. We were in the south, in Alabama — Bill and myself. We had about six hundred dollars, and we needed two thousand dollars more and did not know how to get them. It was then that we had that idea of kidnapping someone and demanding a ransom. There was a little town there, which was called Summit. We decided to kidnap the only child of a prominent rich man named Ebenezer Dorset. The child was a boy of ten, with bright red hair. Bill and I thought that if we kidnapped him, his father would





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Agree to pay a ransom of two thousand dollars. But wait till I tell you.


About two miles from the town of Summit there was a little mountain, covered with wood. On the slope of the mountain there was. a cave. In that cave we stored provi­ sions.


In a village three miles away we hired a horse with a little cart. In the evening, after sunset, we drove in that cart past Dorset's house. The boy wasdn the street. He was throwing stones at a kitten which was sitting on the fence across the street.


*Hey, little boy*, said Bill, «would you like a bag of candy and a nice ride?*


The boy threw a stone at Bill and hit him in the eye. That boy fought with us like a bear, but, at last, we put him in the bottom of the cart and drove away. We took him up to the cave.


After dark I drove to the village to return the horse and cart, and then walked back to the mountain.


When t returned, there was a fire burning behind a big rock at the entrance of the cave. Bill was sitting on the grass. The boy was watching a pot of boiling coffee. Two tail-feathers were stuck in his red hair. He pointed a stick at me when I came up and said:


«How cursed, pale-face do you dare to enter the camp of Red Chief, the terror of the plains?*


«Не is all right now*, said Bill. «We're playing Indi­ an. I'm Red Chief's captive, and I shall be scalped in the morning*.


Yes, sir, that boy was enjoying himself. He liked living in the cave so much, that he had forgotten that he was a captive himself. He immediately named me Snake-eye the Spy, and announced that I should be burnt at sunrise.




Then we had supper; and he filled his mouth full of bacon and bread, and .began to talk. He made a long speech, something like this: «I like this very much. I never camped out before. I was nine last birthday. I hate to go to school. Rats ate up sixteen of Jimmy's aunt's hen's eggs. Are there any real Indians in these woods? I want some more bacon. Does the wind blow because the trees move? We had five puppies. Why is, your nose so red, Bill? My father has lots of money. Are the stars hot? I don't like girls. Have you beds in this cave? A parrot can talk, but a monkey or a fish can't*.



Every few minutes he remembered that he was a red skin and took his stick, which he called his rifle, and went to the mouth of the cave to see if there were any spies of the pale-faces. Now and then he let out a war-whoop, which made Bill shiver. He was simply terrorized by that boy.


«Red Chief*, said I to the boy, « would you like to go home?* «No», said he. «I don't have any fun at home. I hate to go to school. I like to camp out. You won't take me back home, Snake-eye, will you?*


- «Not now*, said I. «We shall stay here in the cave for sometime*. «А11 right*, said he. «That'll be fine. I nev­ er had such fun in my life*.




We went to bed about eleven o'clock. We slept on the ground on some blankets. We put Red Chief between us. We were not afraid that he would run away. We could not fall asleep for three hours because every now and then he jumped up and shouted in our ears that the pale-faces were coming. At last I fell asleep and dreamed that I had been kidnapped and tied to a tree by a pirate with red hair.




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