"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 design was growing into an inverted "V." 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. He attacked the crumbling quartz with the pick, bursting the disintegrating rock asunder with every stroke.
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.
"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. According to the season, she canned vegetables, preserved fruit, rendered lard and put down pork.
"What!" exclaim a million Irishmen starting up from all the shanties in the land, "is not this railroad which we have built a good thing?" Yes, I answer, comparatively good, that is, you might have done worse; but I wish, as you are brothers of mine, that you could have spent your time better than digging in this dirt