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Chapter Twenty Eight.
 More Unexpected Discoveries—Captain Bunting makes Bill Jones A First Mate—Larry O’Neil Makes himself a First Mate—The Parting—Ned Sinton proves himself, a Second Time, to be a Friend in Need and in Deed.  
“It never rains but it pours,” saith the proverb. We are fond of proverbs. We confess to a weakness that way. There is a depth of meaning in them which courts investigation from the strongest intellects. Even when they are nonsensical, which is not unfrequently the case, their nonsense is unfathomable, and, therefore, invested with all the zest which attaches, metaphysically speaking, to the incomprehensible.
Astonishing circumstances had been raining for some time past around our bewildered adventurers, and, latterly, they had begun to pour. On the afternoon of the day, the events of which have been recorded in the last chapter, there was, metaphorically speaking, a regular thunder-plump. No sooner had the party returned to old Mr Thompson’s cottage, than down it came again, heavy as ever.
On entering the porch, Lizette ran up to Tom, in that pretty tripping style peculiar to herself, and whispered in his ear.
“Well, you baggage,” said he, “I’ll go with you; but I don’t like secrets. Walk into the parlour, friends; I’ll be with you in a minute.”
“Tom,” said Lizette, pursing up her little mouth and elevating her pert nose; “you can’t guess what an interesting discovery I’ve made.”
“Of course I can’t,” replied Tom, with affected impatience; “now, pray, don’t ask me to try, else I shall leave you instantly.”
“What an impatient creature you are!” said Lizette. “Only think! I have discovered that my maid, whom we hired only two days ago, has—”
“Bolted with the black cook, or somebody else, and married him,” interrupted Tom, with a look of horror, as he threw himself into any easy-chair.
“Not at all,” rejoined Lizette, hurriedly; “nothing of the sort; she has discovered that the little girl Mr Sinton brought with him is her sister.”
“What! Kate Morgan’s sister!” cried Tom, with a look of surprise. “I knew it; I was sure I had heard the name before, but I couldn’t remember when or where; I see it now; she must be the girl Larry O’Neil used to talk about up at the diggin’s; but as I never saw her there, of course I couldn’t know her.”
“Well, I don’t know about that; I suppose you’re right,” replied Lizette; “but isn’t it nice? They’re kissing and hugging each other, and crying, in the kitchen at this moment. Oh! I’m so happy—the dear little thing!”
If Lizette was happy she took a strange way to shew it, for she sat down beside Tom and began to sob.
While the above conversation was going on up-stairs, another conversation—interesting enough to deserve special notice—was going on in the parlour.
“Sure don’t I know me own feelin’s best?” remarked Larry, addressing Ned Sinton. “It’s all very well at the diggin’s; but when it comes to drawin’-rooms and parlours, I feels—an’ so does Bill Jones here—that we’re out ’o place. In the matter o’ diggin’ we’re all equals, no doubt; but we feels that we ain’t gintlemen born, and that it’s a’k’ard to the lady to be havin’ sich rough customers at her table, so Bill an’ me has agreed to make the most o’ ourselves in the kitchen.”
“Larry, you’re talking nonsense. We have messed together on equal terms for many months; and, whatever course we may follow after this, you must sup with us to-night, as usual. I know Tom will be angry if you don’t.”
“Ay, sir, but it ain’t ‘as oosual,’” suggested Bill Jones, turning the quid in his cheek; “it’s quite on-oosual for the likes o’ us to sup with a lady.”
“That’s it,” chimed in Larry; “so, Mister Ned, ye’ll jist plaise to make our excuges to Mrs Tom, and tell her where we’ve gone to lo-cate, as the Yankees say. Come away, Bill.”
Larry took his friend by the arm, and, leading him out of the room, shut the door.
Five seconds after that there came an appalling female shriek, and a dreadful masculine yell, from the region of the kitchen, accompanied by a subdued squeak of such extreme sweetness, that it could have come only from the throat of Mademoiselle Nelina. Ned and the captain sprang to the door, and dashed violently against Tom and his wife, whom they unexpectedly met also rushing towards the kitchen. In another moment a curious and deeply interesting tableau vivant was revealed to their astonished gaze.
In the middle of the room was Larry O’Neil, down on one knee, while with both arms he supported the fainting form of Kate Morgan. By Kate’s side knelt her sister Nelly, who bent over her pale face with anxious, tearful countenance, while, presiding over the group, like an amiable ogre, stood Bill Jones, with his hands in his breeches-pockets, his legs apart, one eye tightly screwed up, and his mouth expanded from ear to ear.
“That’s yer sort!” cried Bill, in ecstatic glee. “W’en a thing comes all right, an’ tight, an’ ship-shape, why, wot then? In coorse it’s all square—that’s wot I say.”
“She’s comin’ to,” whispered Larry. “Ah! thin, spake, won’t ye, darlin’? It’ll do ye good, maybe, an’ help to open yer two purty eyes.”
Kate Morgan recovered—we need scarcely tell our reader that—and Nelly dried her eyes, and that evening was spent in a fashion that conduced to the well-being, and comfort, and good humour of all parties concerned. Perhaps it is also needless to inform our reader that Larry O’Neil and Bill Jones carried their point. They supped in the kitchen that night. Our informant does not say whether Kate Morgan and her sister Nelly supped with them—but we rather think they did.
A week afterwards, Captain Bunting had matured his future plans. He resolved to purchase a clipper-brig that was lying at that time useless in the harbour, and embark in the coasting trade of California. He made Bill Jones his first mate, and offered to make Larry O’Neil his second, but Larry wanted a mate himself, and declined the honour; so the captain gave him five hundred pounds to set him up in any line he chose. Ned Sinton sold his property, and also presented his old comrade with a goodly sum of money, saying, that as he, (Ned), had been the means of dragging him away from the diggings, he felt bound to assist him in the hour of need. So Kate Morgan became Mrs O’Neil the week following; and she, with her husband and her little sister, started off for the interior of the country to look after a farm.
About the same time, Captain Bunting having completed the lading of his brig, succeeded in manning her by offering a high wage, and, bidding adieu to Ned and Tom, set sail for the Sacram............
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