These suppositions were cut short by the entrance of a man who appeared to be a half-breed, and who immediately began to speak to Archie in broken English. The fellow had a pleasant face, and presented a fairly good appearance, and Archie wondered how he could have come to this place. “I suppose you have been wondering,” said the man, “why you have been thrown into this room, and it won’t take me long to explain things. You see this town belongs to us just now, and we don’t propose to have any Yankee spies around here to tell Otis of our whereabouts. There ain’t no troops in this town now, but there’s likely to be any minute, and we patriots was sent here to take possession of things and arrange quarters for our army. Let me tell you that the Filipino army will be in this town to-day, and if you don’t look sharp you’ll be the first prisoner to be shot. Aguinaldo isn’t a man to deal easily with spies, and if he thought you was out here for that purpose he’d have you riddled with bullets in a minute.” The man came up to Archie and began to undo the ropes. “I reckon I can trust you free for awhile, for there’s no use in your trying to get away, with the Filipino army all around the town. Sit down there now, and I’ll see that you get some breakfast. You can tell, perhaps, that I ain’t no Filipino, nor never was one. I’m from Arizona, U. S. A., and I’m fightin’ with these rebels for what there is in it just now. I’m mighty curious to find out how you come to be out in these diggin’s, youngster.”
Archie was willing enough to tell all about himself. He liked this man, in spite of his being with the rebels, and he felt that he would be able to make friends with him if he were careful to do so. And the best plan seemed to be for him to tell all about himself, how he happened to go to New York, and how he had been sent out here as a boy correspondent for the Enterprise. The man from Arizona listened to the recital with open mouth and eyes, and he frequently laughed outright at some of the experiences Archie described. When the narrative was finished, he seized Archie’s hand, and said, “My name’s Bill Hickson, and you can count on me after this fer a friend, youngster. I’ll swan if I ever heard tell of sich nerve in my life. I’ll see that you get out of this scrape all right, but you must be careful to keep up appearances of being under guard. I’m a big-bug in this Filipino shack, but I wouldn’t dare to let you out openly. So you jist kind of lay around and look despondent, and depend on me to make things as easy for you as I can. You kin come down-stairs now, if you like, and I’ll present you to my friends. There don’t none of ’em speak no English but me, and all I can do is to interduce you, and tell ’em that you ain’t no spy, and that you are very sorry you ever ran up agin this here town. And I guess I’ll be expressin’ your sentiments exactly, won’t I?” Archie nodded, but in his heart he felt that he wasn’t sorry he had run up against the town. This Bill Hickson, in himself, was a character worth going miles to meet, and if what he said was true, Archie stood a good chance of seeing the notorious Aguinaldo, with his army of Filipinos, before the day was over.