As night drew near, however, he began to wonder what he would do for a bed, and the question became more important with every hour. He had come to no towns since morning, and knew that he couldn’t expect to reach one of any size until the next day, anyhow. There were farmhouses, of course, but after his experience of the past week the lad felt that he would rather remain outdoors all night than risk being thrown in with another Hiram Tinch. He didn’t know enough of farmers to know that few of them resemble Mr. Tinch in nature, and he did what he thought was best in keeping away from farmhouses after this.
It was five o’clock in the evening, and Archie was beginning to feel very tired and hungry, when he came to the ruins of an old colonial mansion, which lay far back from the road, surrounded by trees, and almost hid with shrubbery. “How interesting,” he thought to himself. “It looks just like the pictures of old ruins we see in geographies. I think I must go up and see what they look like at close range.” And, fired with a spirit of adventure, and making believe that he was an explorer in an ancient country, the boy made his way through the trees and shrubbery. The ruins looked more and more interesting as he advanced. This had evidently been a magnificent estate at one time. There were massive pillars which had once supported a stately portico at the front of the house, and above all there rose a massive chimney, which seemed to be exceedingly well preserved. As Archie came nearer, he was surprised to notice a thin column of smoke rising from the top of the chimney, and for a moment he stood still with fright. What could this mean? Who could be building a fire in the midst of these ruins. It was almost like what one reads about in books, he thought.
For some time he could not decide what to do, whether he had better keep on, or whether the wisest policy would be to get back to the road as quickly as possible. Finally, his curiosity and thirst for adventure persuaded him to go on, and he continued to push his way through the shrubbery until he stood before the ruins. He then climbed a flight of steps, and stood in what had once been the main entrance to this massive palace. Before him he saw a scene which was almost weird in its unusualness. A fire of pine-knots was blazing in the ruins of the great fireplace, and seated in a semicircle around the fire were several men of picturesque appearance, whose faces looked up angrily when they were disturbed.
STEALING A RIDE— KICKED OUT BY THE BRAKEMAN.