#26 – in the amazement!

The man glanced at it and tossed it back to Jamie. “Worthless. That whole area’s been
picked over. If I was you, I’d try Bad Hope.”
Jamie could not believe it. Van der Merwe’s map was what had brought him there, the
lodestar that was going to make him rich.
Another digger said, “Head for Colesberg. That’s where they’re findin’ diamonds, son.”
“Gilfillans Kop—that’s the place to dig.”
“You’ll try Moonlight Rush, if you want my opinion.”
At supper that night, Alice Jardine said, “Jamie, one place is as big a gamble as another.
Pick your own spot, dig in your pickax and pray. That’s all these other experts are doing.”
After a night of sleepless self-debate, Jamie decided he would forget Van der Merwe’s
map. Against everyone’s advice, he decided to head east, along the Modder River. The
following morning Jamie said good-bye to Mrs. Jardine and set off.
He walked for three days and two nights, and when he came to a likely-looking spot, he
set up his small tent. Huge boulders lay along both sides of the riverbank, and Jamie,
using thick
branches as levers, laboriously moved them out of the way to get at the gravel that lay
He dug from dawn until dusk, looking for the yellow clay or the blue diamondiferous soil
that would tell him he had found a diamond pipe. But the earth was barren. He dug for a
week without finding a single stone. At the end of the week, he moved on.
One day as he walked along, he saw in the distance what looked like a silver house,
glowing dazzlingly in the sun. I’m going blind, Jamie thought. But as he got closer, he saw
that he was approaching a village, and all the houses seemed to be made of silver.
Crowds of Indian men, women and children dressed in rags swarmed through the streets.
Jamie stared in amazement. The silver houses glistening in the sun were made of tin jam
pots, flattened out, fastened together and nailed over the crude shacks. He walked on, and
an hour later, when he looked back, he could still see the glow of the village. It was a sight
he never forgot.


Copyright © 1982 by Sheldon Literary Trust

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