It's just booful, the way it peters out," he exulted when a shovelful of dirt contained no more than a single speck of gold.
The converging sides of this "V" marked the boundaries of the gold-bearing dirt.
Often he ran his eye along the converging sides and on up the hill, trying to divine the apex, the point where the gold-bearing dirt must cease.
When he filled a pan with dirt, he ran down the hill to wash it; nor could he forbear running up the hill again, panting and stumbling profanely, to refill the pan.
The dirt he found at twenty-five inches from the surface, and at thirty-five inches, yielded barren pans.
Twenty cents, thirty cents, fifty cents, sixty cents, were the values of the gold found in the pans, and at nightfall he washed his banner pan, which gave him a dollar's worth of gold-dust from a shovelful of dirt.
Rotten quartz," was his conclusion as, with the shovel, he cleared the bottom of the hole of loose dirt.
As a farmer rubs the clinging earth from fresh-dug potatoes, so the man, a piece of rotten quartz held in both hands, rubbed the dirt away.
He rubbed the dirt away from fragment after fragment, tossing them into the gold-pan.
He examined it critically, turned it over and over, and rubbed the dirt from it.
He continued rubbing the dirt from the quartz fragments and throwing the gold into the pan.
Still he squatted on his heels, rubbing dirt from gold and debating in just what manner he should rise up.
But you would never see any of the dirt," she argued with more than her usual courage, "and if I wouldn't mind the ashes I don't see why you should.
Often, because her feet ached from being on them such long hours, she worked barefoot in the soft dirt.