Two kidnappers, Caligula and the narrator, decided to kidnap Colonel Jackson T. Rockingham, the president of the Sunrise & Edenville Tap Railroad. They sent a ransom note demanding $10,000 for his release. The kidnappers treated their captive well, providing him with a luxurious meal and even allowing him to send a message to his colleagues to bring the ransom money.
As the day went on, various members of the railroad company arrived at the kidnappers' hideout, each bearing news of their efforts to raise the ransom money. The first to arrive was Captain Duval C. Rockingham, the vice-president of the railroad, followed by Mr. Patterson G. Coble, the second vice-president.
I have to report a white shirt signalling on the starboard bow, sir.
Major Tallahassee Tucker, the general passenger agent, finally arrived with the ransom money. However, the amount raised was far less than the kidnappers had demanded. Major Tucker explained that the railroad's stock had depreciated, and the best he could do with the bonds was to secure a loan of $87.50. Additionally, a mortgage on Colonel Rockingham's land only yielded $50. The kidnappers were disappointed but decided to make the best of the situation.
They invited all the railroad employees to join them for a lavish dinner, during which they revealed their true identities. The narrator claimed to be a nephew of Chauncey Depew, while Caligula claimed to be a cousin of the editor of Puck. They explained that their kidnapping scheme was just a joke and invited everyone to continue enjoying the festivities.
The railroad is ten miles long. There don’t any train run on it except when the crew goes out in the pines and gathers enough lightwood knots to get up steam.
The evening ended with everyone in high spirits, dancing and celebrating together. The next morning, despite the hangovers, Caligula and the narrator took solace in the fact that they had made a lasting impression on the Sunrise & Edenville Tap Railroad.