CHAPTER 7
WINTER DESCENDS
 
When you're busy digging, deep down in the pit, you don't pay much attention to the passing of time. And when you're so sure that you're about to strike the mother lode any minute, nothing else matters but the lure of gold. I could have quit any time I wanted, since I was my own boss. Guess I must have been truly “inflamed with the mania for gold.”
      Suddenly I was jolted out of my reverie by Art's call, “What's going on down there? Have you fallen asleep or something?”
      “No, just thinking,” I replied. “It looks like we're down so deep that now we'll need a windlass to get this gravel out.”
      I climbed out of the pit and we went hunting for wood to construct it. It didn't take us long to nail a few pieces together to support the windlass and get it working. Before long we were down to a routine. We took turns shovelling down in the pit and staying above, hauling up the gravel up and distributing it around the outside of the cob house.
      At lunchtime we stopped only briefly for our daily ration of hardtack, and then went back to work. “We're getting a pretty good pile of gravel out here,” I noted during one of my stints above ground. “Let's pan out some samples to see what we've got.”
      Dave was ready to come up for a breather, so he joined me. We knew that we had to keep checking to make sure that we were into gold-bearing gravel and not just shovelling for exercise.

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