So poor Archie walked quickly through the town, still keeping to the southern road, and saying to himself, as he passed every milestone, “So much nearer New York.” About a mile out in the country he came to a large farmhouse, and he determined to enter and ask for a meal. He had hard work to muster up enough courage to go in and ask for anything, but finally he knocked timidly at the kitchen door, and was frightened by a large dog which came barking around the corner. It seemed to him that the animal would surely bite, but a large fat woman opened the door just in time to let him in. “Hurry in, boy,” she said, “fer there’s no tellin’ what Tige might do ef he once gets a hold of ye.” So Archie stepped into the large kitchen, with its rafters overhead, and its dining-table in the corner. “Sit down, boy,” said the woman. “I reckon you’s thet new lad thet’s come ter work over at Mullins’s, ain’t ye?”
“No’m,” said Archie, “I don’t work anywhere. I’m on my way to New York, where I expect to find a position, and I thought perhaps you’d allow me to do a little work here this morning to earn my breakfast.”
Good Mrs. Lane, for that was the woman’s name, was horrified to think that any one was alive and without breakfast at eight o’clock in the morning. “Goodness me!” said she. “Why, you must be half-famished fer want of food, ain’t ye?” And she bustled about the kitchen, putting the kettle on to boil, and stirring up the fire. “You’ll have some nice ham and eggs, my boy, and then I have somethin’ in mind fer you. I reckon yer ain’t in no hurry ter get ter the city, be ye? Well, even if ye do be in a hurry, I reckon you’ll be glad of the chance to earn four dollars. I ain’t goin’ to ask ye no questions about how ye come to be walkin’ to New York, because I never wuz no hand ter meddle in other folkses affairs, but ye look to be a likely lad, and a strong un, and ez my sister’s husband, what lives two miles down the pike, needs a boy to drive a plough fer a week, I b’lieve ye’ll suit ’im first-rate. So ez soon ez ye have finished yer vittles, I’ll walk down there with ye, and we’ll see the old man.”
Archie hardly knew whether to be delighted with the prospect or not. Of course four dollars would be nice to have, but he was anxious to get to the city as soon as possible, and every day counted. But perhaps it would be wrong, he thought, to throw away such a good chance to earn some money, and he had decided to accept any offer the farmer made him, long before he finished his breakfast. When he got up from the straight-backed chair, he felt that he had never eaten a better meal in his life, and when Mrs. Lane started off down the road, he gladly followed her. A week on such a farm as this would be no unpleasant experience. Such food was not to be had every day, he knew, and he of course would have precious little that was good to eat when he reached the city.