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Ch. 1: Gold in Ceylon

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46
GOLD IN CEYLON.
establish the fact of its presence; the experiment was worth the outlay. Gold there is, but he would be a bold man who either forsook his common avocations in life for a prospect of obtaining a livelihood by gold seeking, or dared the deadly climate of that desolate spot for any time beyond a few days. Fever is already amongst the seven men, three of whom including, the head (Bradley) have been already laid up. The heat in the bed of the river closely shut in by forest to the very edge of the sands, is of that intensity which none but those who have visited the place can have the remotest idea; —a hot breeze setting in afternoon which plays amongst the trees, heating every object even under cover adds additional charms to the lovely locality, whilst here and there are continually seen little whirlwinds of hot air, spinning round and round taking up in their gyrations columns of dust and dead leaves.
We will now give a slight description of the place and its locality.
On arriving at Ambepussa you can easily obtain coolies both as guider and baggage carriers ; leaving the Resthouse at the stables, you turn short to your left and crossing a range of dry paddy fields, you come to a path leading through about 2 1/2 miles of low jungle abounding in quartz rocks and boulders, with here and there spaces which have been cleared by the natives for planting kurakkan grain. Throughout this distance there are two or three native huts, whose inhabitants (if they had any) were, not visible. At the end of these 2 1/2 miles you descend a bank about 20 feet declivity ta the bed of the Maha Oya, at this season presenting a flat surface ef sand and small pools of water here and there, the breadth of the expanse being from 150 to 350 feet; having at the present time about sufficient running water to turn a few water mills. Wading through these pools for about a mile, you reach what are called the "diggings." On the left Bank—looking upwards to the source of the river—you perceive a clearing—lately burnt off—of about 12 or 13 acres bought by Mr. John Selby—on which is erected the Talipot covered house occupied by Mr. Power the "Gold Commissioner,"—close to this nearer to the river bed is a talipot shed put up by the Resthouse-keeper of Ambepussa, at which weary gold seekers may procure refreshments at—for the place—really moderate rates. On the opposite side of the river are a half a dozen huts, put up by the Police about 30 in number and by the Diggers themselves.
The scene of operations is in the bed of the river. In the centre of the almost dry bed, is a small rocky island which the natives say was cut off the main land by a heavy flood in 1838;—the hole, out of which the seamen and others wash the deposit is at the upper portion of the island which divides the stream into two parts during the monsoon —at present both channels are nearly dry. The depth of the deposit is from two to three feet to the solid bed rock and the "Tom" which we have already described is within about 20 feet of the hole from which we should think up to Saturday about from 7 to 10 tons of "stuff" have been washed from first to last by the diggers and visitors. The extent of the deposit is about 300 feet long by 70 broad, and its removal to the "Tom" would, if the diggers worked 8 hours a day, occupy soma five or six months to remove. We had not time to travel the river-downwards from the excavation to any extent; but for the mile above it we saw no alluvial products, nothing but a bare expanse of sand with here and there a few ridges and slabs of quartz rock.
Above the "Tom" some 200 feet, a dam has been constructed by a gang of labourers at the charge of Gavernment, but as the water could not—except at a heavy expense be raised to within 17 inches of the "Tom," it has been allowed to remain in statu quo, and a forcing and lifting pump (which our readers will see, we recommended in our last issue long before we saw the locality) indented for on the Commissariat. This, with the aid of two or three coolies, will supply the washing machine with a constant stream of water.
With regard to the nuggets said to have been handed to the "Gold Com­missioner," we may remark that we saw them both, one was evidently a piece of "manufactured gold" cut off a liuU strip of (he same metal with a sharp
Ch. 1: Gold in Ceylon Page of 442 Ch. 1: Gold in Ceylon
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