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Chapter Twenty Six.
 Deep Plots and Plans—Bill Jones relates his Misadventures—Mademoiselle Nelina consents to run off with Larry O’Neil—A Yankee Musician outwitted—The Escape.  
As Larry had rightly anticipated, Bill Jones made his appearance at the City Hotel the moment the concert was over, and found his old comrades waiting anxiously for him.
It did not take long to tell him how they had discovered the existence of Nelly Morgan, as we shall now call her, but it took much longer to drag from Bill the account of his career since they last met, and the explanation of how he came to be placed in his present circumstances.
“Ye see, friends,” said he, puffing at a pipe, from which, to look at him, one would suppose he derived most of his information, “this is how it happened. When I set sail from the diggin’s to come here for grub, I had a pleasant trip at first. But after a little things began to look bad; the feller that steered us lost his reckoning, an’ so we took two or three wrong turns by way o’ makin’ short cuts. That’s always how it Is. There’s a proverb somewhere—”
“In Milton, maybe, or Napier’s book o’ logarithms,” suggested Captain Bunting.
“P’r’aps it wos, and p’r’aps it wosn’t,” retorted Bill, stuffing the end of his little finger, (if such a diminutive may be used in reference to any of his fingers), into the bowl of his pipe. “I raither think myself it wos in Bell’s Life or the Royal Almanac; hows’ever, that’s wot it is. When ye’ve got a short road to go, don’t try to make it shorter, say I—”
“An’ when ye’ve got a long story to tell, don’t try to make it longer,” interrupted Larry, winking at his comrade through the smoke of his pipe.
“Well, as I wos sayin’,” continued Bill, doggedly, “we didn’t git on so well after a bit; but somehow or other we got here at last, and cast anchor in this very hotel. Off I goes at once an’ buys a cart an’ a mule, an’ then I sets to work to lay in provisions. Now, d’ye see, lads, ’twould ha’ bin better if I had bought the provisions first an’ the mule and the cart after, for I had to pay ever so many dollars a day for their keep. At last I got it all square; packed tight and tied up in the cart—barrels o’ flour, and kegs o’ pork, an’ beans, an’ brandy, an’ what not; an’ away I went alone; for, d’ye see, I carry a compass, an’ when I’ve once made a voyage, I never need to be told how to steer.
“But my troubles began soon. There’s a ford across the river here, which I was told I’d ha’ to cross; and sure enough, so I did—but it’s as bad as Niagara, if not worse—an’ when I gits half way over, we wos capsized, and went down the river keel up. I dun know yet very well how I got ashore, but I did somehow—”
“And did the cart go for it?” inquired Captain Bunting, aghast.
“No, the cart didn’t. She stranded half-a-mile further down, on a rock, where she lies to this hour, with a wheel smashed and the bottom out, and about three thousand tons o’ water swashin’ right through her every hour; but all the provisions and the mule went slap down the Sacramento; an’, if they haven’t bin’ picked up on the way, they’re cruisin’ off the port o’ San Francisco by this time.”
The unfortunate seaman stopped at this point to relight his pipe, while his comrades laughingly commented on his misadventure.
“Ah! ye may laugh; but I can tell ye it warn’t a thing to be laughed at; an’ at this hour I’ve scarce one dollar to rub ’gainst another.”
“Never mind, my boy,” said Ned, as he and the others laughed loud and long at the lugubrious visage of their comrade; “we’ve got well-lined pockets, I assure you; and, of course, we have your share of the profits of our joint concern to hand over whenever you wish it.”
The expression of Bill Jones’s face was visibly improved by this piece of news, and he went on with much greater animation.
“Well, my story’s short now. I comed back here, an’ by chance fell in with this feller—this Yankee-nigger—who offered me five dollars a day to haul up the curtain, an’ do a lot o’ dirty work, sich as bill stickin’, an’ lightin’ the candles, an’ sweepin’ the floor; but it’s hard work, I tell ye, to live on so little in sich a place as this, where everything’s so dear.”
“You’re not good at a bargain, I fear,” remarked Sinton; “but what of the little girl?”
“Well, I wos comin’ to that. Ye see, I felt sure, from some things I overheerd, that she wasn’t the man’s daughter, so one day I axed her who she wos, an’ she said she didn’t know, except that her name was Nelly Morgan; so it comed across me that Morgan wos the name o’ the Irish family you wos so thick with up at the diggin’s, Larry; an’ I wos goin’ to ask if she know’d them, when Jolly—that’s the name o’ the gitter up o’ the concerts—catched me talkin’, an’ he took her away sharp, and said he’d thank me to leave the girl alone. I’ve been watchin’ to have another talk with her, but Jolly’s too sharp for me, an’ I haven’t spoke to her yet.”
Larry manifested much disappointment at this termination, for he had been fully prepared to hear that the girl had made Bill her confidant, and would be ready to run away with him at a moment’s notice. However, he consoled himself by saying that he would do the thing himself; and, after arranging that Bill was to tell Nelly that a friend of his knew where her sister was, and would like to speak with her, they all retired to rest, at least to rest as well as they could in a house which, like all the houses in California, swarmed with rats.
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