As he thought of this possibility, Archie couldn’t help being a little fearful of what might happen to him should he fall into the hands of the insurgents, and he began to wonder if he had not been a little foolhardy, after all, in starting off on such a wild-goose chase. “But I will have something new to send Mr. Van Bunting about the interior towns,” he said to himself, “and if I am captured, why, I will have a great deal to write about when I am released.” This thought made the lad happy again, and he trudged along the road with as much vim and energy as he had displayed during those weary days when he was walking to New York to make his fortune. And it was a much more interesting country in which to walk than the New York State counties had been. The vegetation was rich and luxuriant everywhere, palm-trees, vines, and flowers growing in profusion all along the road. In every dooryard, in front of every hut, there grew what seemed to Archie a veritable fairy bower of the most richly coloured flowers in existence. And they were growing, apparently, without cultivation. He had seen nothing like them before, even in California, and he longed to pluck some of them to send home, if they had only been wax instead of nature’s blossoms. As it was, he kept his arms filled with them for awhile, but after a time he grew tired carrying them, and was obliged to drop them by the roadside.
The country looked as if it might have been very prosperous at one time. There were plantations laid out in excellent fashion, and the soil seemed rich and fertile. But instead of growing crops, and storehouses filled with spices and coffee, there was desolation everywhere, and it was easy to see that the Spaniards had determined to leave but little behind them for the Yankees. Every other farmhouse and wayside hut was deserted, their occupants having gone, apparently, to join Aguinaldo, and the whole country, outside the towns, seemed to be wholly deserted and left to grow up in weeds and tangled vines.
The sun was warm, the sky was a perfect blue, and it seemed a delightful day in every way. But it made Archie sad to walk through a district which had been made so desolate, and he hadn’t walked many hours before he wished that he might soon reach a town, where he could find some life, and where he could remain overnight. For by the middle of the afternoon he was tired walking, and made up his mind that fifteen miles was enough for any one to do in one day. But he was obliged to keep on walking for two hours longer before he reached a village, and the great sun was just sinking behind the blue hills in the distance when he entered the one main village street, which was long and narrow, winding in and out among the cabins and huts, as if it had been laid out after the houses were built, for the convenience of the people. It was a poor excuse for a public thoroughfare. There had probably been a pavement of some sort at one time, but now the street was a mass of rubbish of every sort, straw, dust, old bricks, and bits of stone being thrown together in every rut, so that it was exceedingly difficult to walk along with any comfort.