November 4, 1922
IT WAS DAWN, three days into the season. Thus far nothing had been found, and there seemed to be no particular reason to hope that anything would be found.
The first day’s optimism had already given way to grumbling and low morale. The diggers were still chatty but seemed subdued and disappointed, almost as if they had already given up.
A young boy, a worker’s son, played happily in the loose sand. His job was to tote water, but the sun wasn’t high enough yet for the men to be thirsty, so he contented himself by pretending to be one of the diggers.
The boy knew to keep away from the ancient workmen’s huts where the men dug, so he dug into the ground nearby with a pair of sticks he had carried from home early that morning.
The sand was fine and not at all hard. It didn’t take much effort for him to plunge his sticks into the ground.
One stick hit something solid! His heart beat a little faster as he began wondering what it might be. He dropped his stick and started to use his hands to push back the soil.
The boy looked around to see if anyone had noticed him. He was fearful that someone would see him digging and take credit for whatever he had discovered.
A solid object soon revealed itself. It was flat and smooth and made of stone. The more dirt he cleared away, the more the boy could see that the object was something very worthwhile indeed.
It was a step.
Here, not where the men were digging.
Someone long ago had carved the step out of bedrock. Time and the elements had covered it over until this young water boy, thousands of years later, reclaimed it from the earth with a pair of twigs.
The boy looked around again, making sure no one had seen him.
Quickly, he pulled the sand back into the hole and carefully marked the spot. Then he ran off to tell Mr. Howard Carter about the mysterious stairway.