The commanding general decided, about this time, to begin a more active campaign against the insurgents. It was now the month of December, and with the beginning of the new year he wanted to inaugurate a series of attacks against them in every part of the islands. He was beginning to feel the criticisms of the papers at home, and of the newspaper men at Manila, and he felt that something must be done immediately to retrieve his lost reputation for active fighting. Every one, as soon as this announcement was made, wondered what plan would be pursued to worry the rebels into submission, for it was now generally agreed that the Americans would hardly be able to capture the whole rebel army. It was too evident that they were familiar with numerous hiding-places in the islands. The only thing to do seemed to be to prevent their getting supplies, and to drive them from one point to another, hoping that they would become discouraged in the end and submit to the inevitable.
So far the campaigning had consisted chiefly of such expeditions as that accompanied by Archie, and most of these had returned to Manila without having even seen a rebel soldier. It was not surprising, then, that the general was becoming discouraged, and that he was anxious to try a new policy.
No one knew what the new plan would be until one day several cruisers and gunboats made their appearance in the harbour. There had been no war-ships at Manila for several weeks, and every one was surprised that so many should arrive at once. There were rumours of a German onslaught, and also gossip saying that Japan had decided to interfere, but all these were set at naught when the general announced that the war-ships were to be sent around the islands to bombard the rebel villages, and to drive the rebel troops to the interior of the islands, where it would be hard for them to receive supplies.
This news made Archie very happy, and a plan at once occurred to him. Why shouldn’t he and Bill Hickson be allowed aboard a cruiser? It would be the best thing possible for their health, and he set about getting the necessary permit from the admiral.
Bill Hickson was able to be about now, and he was overjoyed when Archie said he thought they could arrange to go. “I’d like nothing better than a voyage in the good salt air. I believe it will do me more good than a month in the hospital,” he said. Archie secured a very strong letter from the general, and one day he stepped aboard the flag-ship in the harbour. He had no difficulty in seeing the admiral, and found him to be a very pleasant man to talk with. He read the letter carefully, and then shook Archie cordially by the hand. “Yes,” he said, “I’ve heard of you, and of your friend, too. Every one in Hong Kong knows how you two together bearded old Aguinaldo in his den, and robbed him of most of his troops. It did me good to read about it in the New York papers, too, and to know that you are both getting your just measure of credit for the achievement.”