The Gold Digger

THE GOLD DIGGER was an old man who moved painfully, methodically and slowly. He hobbled from place to place with the aid of an old gnarled stick that looked like a small tree branch.
 
His feeble frame was massive. His great shoulders were rather hunched and rounded, but one could readily see that he had once been a powerful man capable of doing laborious work.
 
His thick body looked to be even thicker than it was because he seemed to wear layer upon layer of clothing. On top of this motley array of suits and what have you, he wore what looked like a heavy overcoat.
 
We never stopped wondering how he could endure such heavy layers of clothing, even in the summertime when the sun was terribly hot and everyone else was shedding every surplus bit of clothing.
 
In the morning, we would see him pass by our house with an old bucket in his toil-worn hands and a pick and shovel on his shoulder. Slowly and patiently, he lugged his load until he had climbed one of the red hills behind Brooklyn. He always climbed a particular hill and selected a particular spot before he unloaded his tools and put his bucket down to get ready for his digging operations.
 
He selected a spot on the top of one of the tallest hills, which was just behind our house. Whenever we desired to watch him, he was always in full view. He never hurried but took his time, and after his requirements seemed to be satisfied, he began to dig.
 
He would dig for hours under the blazing summer sun. As he dug, he seemed to sort something. We knew the old man, and for a long time we watched him and puzzled over his actions. Then one day we were told he was digging for gold.
 
Up in the air he tossed spade after spade of red clods. As they came down, he carefully inspected each one for its worth, made his selection and deposited his choice nuggets in his old battered bucket.
 
After hours of digging, he gathered up his bucket of supposed gold nuggets, put his tools on his shoulder and trudged back to his humble home with his precious load. No one bothered him or tried to inspect his treasure. People were content to leave him with his find and his thoughts.
 
I was told that at some time in his life he had been a well digger. Because of his age and his corpulence, it was obvious that he was no longer suited for such a job. People in the community often said that some well diggers had the power of locating underground streams of water with a special kind of switch. A man was supposed to hold it loosely in his hand and walk back and forth over the ground where he thought water might be found. If a stream of water was underneath, the switch would jerk and pull violently in his hands at that point. The jerking and pulling indicated that a well could be successfully dug at that particular spot.
 
Whether or not the old gold digger had this power, I do not know, but he continued his search for gold on the red hills of Brooklyn for many years.

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