Gayle chops wood

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Gayle chops wood with colonist Jonathon Allen

As the Voorhees thank us profusely for the ham, sugar, and cheese ("You saved us!" they keep saying) and show us to their one-room cabin, they fill us in on the daily challenges: Endless wood chopping. Sparse food. Isolation. Fear of wild animals. Filthy clothing. "It's amazing how what may initially seem like an utterly desperate existence can seamlessly morph into a surprisingly tolerable way of life," Julia Friese, who took a leave from her job at a children's museum in Philadelphia, later says of her role as an indentured servant. "Bathing once a week, at most, and sanitation standards that would make even a fraternity boy blush all become just normal."