Dutch smoked his Lucky Strike and then started another. I allowed him some time alone, to think about his situation, as well as what we might do about it. I climbed back toward the cleft, to examine the vein of copper and gold more carefully. Once down inside, on hands and knees, it was hypnotic to just stare at the ore.

I had always thought that gold, except for small nuggets, was always found by either panning for the dust, or crushing huge masses of rock known to obtain it. The vein observed in front of me was not like that at all. It had rock and debris embedded within its structure, but, by and large, the metal was very evident for what it was. I took out my penknife and gouged out some of the stuff. Chunks the size of my thumb broke free. I gathered them together in my palm, convinced that gold in this form was exceedingly rare, in all parts of the world.