pitchforks beating the countryside for the dastardly kidnapers. But what I saw was a peaceful landscape dotted with one man plowing with a dun mule. Nobody was dragging the creek, no

couriers dashed hither and yon, bringing tidings of no news to 5 the distracted parents. There was a silvan attitude of somno

lent sleepiness pervading that section of the external outward surface of Alabama that lay exposed to my view. "Perhaps," says I to myself, "it has not yet been discovered that the wolves have

borne away the tender lambkin from the fold. Heaven help the 10 wolves!” says I, and I went down the mountain to breakfast.

When I got to the cave I found Bill backed up against the side of it, breathing hard, and the boy threatening to smash him with a rock half as big as a cocoanut.

"He put a red-hot boiled potato down my back," explained 15 Bill, "and then mashed it with his foot; and I boxed 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 20 beware!”

After breakfast the kid takes a piece of leather with strings wrapped around it out of his pocket and goes outside the cave unwinding it.

“What's he up to now?” says Bill, anxiously. “You don't 23 think he'll run away,


you, Sam?“No fear of it,” says I. "He don'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 ac

count of his disappearance; but maybe they haven't realized yet 30 that he's gone. His folks may think he's spending the night with

Aunt Jane or one of the neighbors. Anyhow, he'll be missed today. Tonight we must get a message to his father, demanding the two thousand dollars for his return."

Just then we heard a kind of war whoop, such as David might 35 have emitted when he knocked out the champion Goliath. It was


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a sling that Red Chief had pulled out of his pocket, and he was whirling it around his head.

I dodged, and heard a heavy thud and a kind of a sigh from Bill, like one a horse gives out when you take his saddle off. A 5 niggerhead rock the size of an egg had caught Bill just behind

his left ear. He loosened himself all over and fell in the fire across the frying pan of hot water for washing the dishes. I dragged him out and poured cold water on his head for half an hour.

By and by, Bill sits up and feels behind his ear and says, “Sam, do you know who my favorite Biblical character is ?

“Take it easy,” says I. “You'll come to your senses presently."

'King Herod," says he. "You won't go away and leave me 15 here alone, will you, Sam?"

I went out and caught that boy and shook him until his freckles rattled.

“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, Snakeeye, if you won't send me home, and if you'll let me play the Black Scout today."

"I don't know the game," says I. "That's for you and Mr. 25 Bill to decide. He's your playmate for the day. I'm going away

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 30 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 kidnaping had been regarded in Summit. Also, I thought it best to send a peremptory letter to old man Dorset that day, demanding the ransom and dictating how it should be paid.

"You know, Sam,” says Bill, "I've stood by you without bat



ting an eye in earthquake, fire, and flood-in poker games, dynamite outrages, police raids, train robberies, and cyclones. I never lost my nerve yet till we kidnaped that two-legged skyrocket

of a kid. He's got me going. You won't leave me long with 5 him, will you, Sam?"

? "I'll be back some time this afternoon," says. I. "You must "

. keep the boy amused and quiet till I return. And now we'll write the letter to old Dorset."

Bill and I got paper and pencil and worked on the letter while 10 Red Chief, with a blanket wrapped around him, strutted up and

down, guarding the mouth of the cave. Bill begged me tearfully to make the ransom fifteen hundred dollars instead of two thousand. “I ain't attempting,” says he, “to decry the celebrated moral aspect of parental affection, but we're dealing with humans, and it ain't human for anybody to give up two thousand dollars for that forty-pound chunk of freckled wildcat. I'm willing to take a chance at fifteen hundred dollars. You can charge the difference up to me.”

So, to relieve Bill, I acceded, and we collaborated a letter that 20 ran this way:

Ebenezer Dorset, Esq.:

We have your boy concealed in a place far from Summit. It is useless for you or the most skillful detectives to attempt to find him. Absolutely

the only terms on which you can have him restored to you are these: 25 We demand fifteen hundred dollars in large bills for his return; the money

to be left at midnight tonight at the same spot and in the same box as your reply—as hereinafter described. If you agree to these terms, send your answer in writing by a solitary messenger tonight at half-past eight

o'clock. After crossing Owl Creek, on the road to Poplar Cove, there 30 are three large trees about a hundred yards apart, close to the fence of

the wheat field on the right-hand side. At the bottom of the fence post, opposite the third tree, will be found a small pasteboard box.

The messenger will place the answer in this box and return immediately to Summit.

If you attempt any treachery or fail to comply with our demand as stated, you will never see your boy again.


If you pay the money as demanded, he will be returned to you safe and well within three hours. These terms are final, and if you do not accede to them, no further communication will be attempted.

Two Desperate Men.



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I addressed this letter to Dorset, and put it in my pocket. As I was about to start, the kid comes up to me and says:

"Aw, Snake-eye, you said I could play the Black Scout while you was gone.”

“Play it, of course," says I. “Mr. Bill will play with you. 10 What kind of a game is it?”

"I'm the Black Scout," says Red Chief, "and I have to ride to the stockade to warn the settlers that the Indians are coming. I'm tired of playing Indian myself. I want to be the Black Scout."

“All right,” says I. “It sounds harmless to me. I guess Mr. Bill will help you foil the pesky savages.”

“What am I to do?" asks Bill, looking at the kid suspiciously.

"You are the hoss,” says Black Scout. "Get down on your hands and knees. How can I ride to the stockade without a 20 hoss?

"You'd better keep him interested," said I, "till we get the scheme going. Loosen up."

Bill gets down on his all fours, and a look comes in his eyes like a rabbit's when you catch it in a trap.

"How far is it to the stockade, kid?” he asks, in a husky manner of voice.

"Ninety miles," says the Black Scout. "And you have to hump yourself to get there on time. Whoa, now!"

The Black Scout jumps on Bill's back and digs his heels in 30 his side.

"For Heaven's sake,” says Bill, "hurry back, Sam, as soon as you can. I wish we hadn't made the ransom more than a thousand. Say, you quit kicking me, or I'll get up and warm you good.”

I walked over to Poplar Cove and sat around the post office


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and store, talking with the chawbacons that come in to trade. One whiskerando says that he hears Summit is all upset on account of Elder Ebenezer Dorset's boy having been lost or stolen.

That was all I wanted to know. I bought some smoking tobacco, 5 referred casually to the price of black-eyed peas, posted my

letter surreptitiously, and came away. The postmaster said the mail carrier would come by in an hour to take the mail on to Summit.

When I got back to the cave Bill and the boy were not to be 10 found. I explored the vicinity of the cave, and risked a yodel

or two, but there was no response. So I lighted my pipe and sat down on a mossy bank to await developments.

In about half an hour I heard the bushes rustle, and Bill wabbled out into the little glade in front of the cave. Behind him 15 was the kid, stepping softly like a scout, with a broad grin on

his face. Bill stopped, took off his hat, and wiped his face with a red handkerchief. The kid stopped about eight feet behind him

"Sam,” says Bill, “I suppose you'll think I'm a renegade, but 20 I couldn't help it. I'm a grown person with masculine proclivities

and habits of self-defense, but there is a time when all systems of egotism and predominance fail. The boy is gone. I have sent him home. All is off. There was martyrs in old times,” goes on

Bill, “that suffered death rather than give up the particular graft 25 they enjoyed. None of 'em ever was subjugated to such super

natural tortures as I have been. I tried to be faithful to our articles of depredation; but there came a limit."

"What's the trouble, Bill?" I asks him.

"I was rode," says Bill, "the ninety miles to the stockade, not 30 barring an inch. Then when the settlers was rescued, I was given

oats. Sand ain't a palatable substitute. And then, for an hour I had to try to explain to him why there was nothin' in holes, how a road can run both ways, and what makes the grass green.

I tell you, Sam, a human can only stand so much. I takes him by 35 the neck of his clothes and drags him down the mountain. On

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