#28 – Paardspan

Jamie walked into the office, a small, airless room, and he was filled with a sudden
sense of trepidation. He had heard dozens of stories of prospectors who had found
diamonds that had turned out to be worthless stones. What if I’m wrong? What if—?
The assayer was seated at a cluttered desk in the tiny office. “Somethin’ I can do for
Jamie took a deep breath. “Yes, sir. I would like to have these valued, please.”
Under the watchful eye of the assayer, Jamie started laying the stones on his desk.
When he was finished, there was a total of twenty-seven, and the assayer was gazing at
them in astonishment.
“Where—where did you find these?”
“I’ll tell you after you tell me whether they’re diamonds.”
The assayer picked up the largest stone and examined it with a jeweler’s loupe. “My
God!” he said. “This is the biggest diamond I’ve ever seen!” And Jamie realized he had
been holding his breath. He could have yelled aloud with joy. “Where—” the man begged,
“where did these come from?”
“Meet me in the canteen in fifteen minutes,” Jamie grinned, “and I’ll tell you.”
Jamie gathered up the diamonds, put them in his pockets and strode out. He headed for
the registration office two doors down the street. “I want to register a claim,” he said. “In
the names of Salomon van der Merwe and Jamie McGregor.”
He had walked through that door a penniless farm boy and walked out a multimillionaire.
The assayer was in the canteen waiting when Jamie McGregor entered. He had
obviously spread the news, because when Jamie walked in there was a sudden, respectful
hush. There was a single unspoken question on everyone’s mind. Jamie walked up to the
bar and said to the bartender, “I’m here to wet my find.” He turned and faced the crowd.


Copyright © 1982 by Sheldon Literary Trust

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