THE NIGHT AMONG THE RUINS— THE CAMP-FIRE OF THE TRAMPS.
It seemed to Archie that he had just fallen asleep when old Hiram Tinch was shaking him awake. “Git up out o’ here now, ye lazy beggar, and git to the field and finish that there ploughin’,” he growled, and the frightened lad awakened from a horrible nightmare, only to find a worse experience awaiting him in the light of day. He hastily drew on his trousers, and didn’t wait to don either shoes or stockings, for if he was to spend the day ploughing in a field, he knew he would be more comfortable in his bare feet. When he reached the kitchen, he found that Farmer Tinch had already eaten his breakfast, though it was not daylight. Archie was glad that he was out of the way, and good Mrs. Tinch was glad of it, too, for she was able to give the boy a good breakfast, and some good advice with it. “Don’t you pay no attention to what my man says, laddie. He’s a powerful man to swear and carry on, but I don’t think he’ll have the meanness to strike you. Ef he does, ye must come to me, and I’ll see thet he doesn’t do it no more.”
Archie was grateful for this spirit of friendliness, but in his heart he thought that cruel words were often more painful than lashes, and he heartily wished that his week was over.
All this day he spent on the farm, without once going into the road. Farmer Tinch had warned him that if he saw him making for the road at any time, he could go and never come back, and he would forfeit what money he had already earned. So Archie ploughed the field from daylight till dark, with a half hour at noon for a hurried dinner. He was glad when darkness came, and after another supper of mush and milk he was thankful to have a corn-husk bed to sleep on, and was soon in a stupor which was so sound as to be almost like death.
Again the next morning he was awakened at daylight, and he was made to work even harder than on the second day. He had by this time become somewhat used to the labour, however, and stood it better. He was more successful in his work, too, and Farmer Tinch had less opportunity for cursing him. But at night he seemed more tired, even, than before, and he longed for his home again. He thought of the cosy bed he would now be enjoying if he had only taken his mother’s advice, and he felt almost like getting up in the night and stealing away on the road to the north. But, always a sensible lad, Archie realised that this discouragement could not last, and he lost himself in sleep, looking forward three days, when his week should be up, and he would be on his way to the city, with four dollars more to add to his slender store.