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Posted by Ed Kiser on June 24, 2018 at 07:56:56 user Kisered.

In PIGEON POST, the miners wanted to make a nugget of gold so as
to have something to show Captain Flint when he returned as proof
of the presence of a gold mine near by so he would not want to go
off on a wild goose chase looking elsewhere. This involved a
"blast furnace" to get the gold dust hot enough to melt and
hopefully cool to form that nugget. The furnace required
charcoal as fuel, which they made burning a pile of wood,
following the example they saw of the Charcoal Burners
professional preparation of charcoal.

The problem with these two processes is that involved a FIRE.
Mrs. Tyson was greatly afraid of what a fire would do to their
area, including her house. Seeing their efforts at charcoal
burning, she was quite alarmed and wanted them to cease this
dangerous process and go home. So when the fire did start, from
a totally unrelated cause, she was angry and accused them of
starting this disasterous fire.

However, after the blast furnace was finally cooled, they found
the gold had all gone, lost, the crucible broken into fragments.
All that work was for nothing. But they went back to the mine
and panned a little bit more for Dick to take to Beckfoot to
test. It was this little sample that Captain Flint saw, and was
quite pleased to find it to be rich copper ore.

All it took to convince him was a tiny pinch of the metal.

Why was it thought so necessary to convert that "gold dust" into

Of course, if they had gone home with that first pinch of panned
dust, the last third of the book would not have been needed. The
suspense of the charcoal burning and the blast furnace cooking
would be missing from the plot. And when that fire did start,
they would not have been on hand to save Timothy, and to send
Sappho home with the call for help with the fire.

So it made quite a dramatic build up, the anticipation of
creating that nugget, which turned out to be not needed after
all, but it made it a great story.

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