#31 – All about this important man

He looked Van der Merwe in the eye. “I’ll not let you get away with this. I’m not going to
leave Klipdrift. I’ll tell everybody here what you’ve done. I’m going to get my share of those
diamonds.”
Van der Merwe started to turn away from the fury in the pale-gray eyes. “You’d better
find a doctor, boy,” he muttered. “I think the sun has addled your wits.”
In a second, Jamie was towering over Van der Merwe. He pulled the thin figure into the
air and held him up to eye level. “I’m going to make you sorry you ever laid eyes on me.”
He dropped Van der Merwe to his feet, flung the money on the table and stormed out.
When Jamie McGregor walked into the Sundowner Saloon, it was almost deserted, for
most of the prospectors were on then-way to Paardspan. Jamie was filled with anger and
despair. It’s incredible, he thought. One minute I’m as rich as Croesus, and the next minute
I’m dead broke. Van der Merwe is a thief, and I’m going to find a way to punish him. But
how? Van der Merwe was right. Jamie could not even afford a lawyer to fight his case. He
was a stranger there, and Van der Merwe was a respected member of the community. The
only weapon Jamie had was the truth. He would let everyone in South Africa know what
Van der Merwe had done.
Smit, the bartender, greeted him. “Welcome back. Everything’s on the house, Mr.
McGregor. What would you like?”
“A whiskey.”
Smit poured a double and set it in front of Jamie. Jamie downed it in one gulp. He was
not used to drinking, and the hard liquor scorched his throat and stomach.
“Another, please.”
“Comin’ up. I’ve always said the Scots could drink anybody under the table.”
The second drink went down easier. Jamie remembered that it was the bartender who
had told a digger to go to Van der Merwe for help. “Did you know Old Man Van der Merwe
is a crook? He’s trying to cheat me out of my diamonds.”
Smit was sympathetic. “What? That’s terrible. I’m sorry to hear that.”
“He’ll nae get away with it.” Jamie’s voice was slurred. “Half
those diamonds are mine. He’s a thief, and I’m gonna see that everybody knows it.”
“Careful. Van der Merwe’s an important man in this town,” the bartender warned. “If
you’re goin’ up against him, you’ll need help. In fact, I know just the person. He hates Van
der Merwe as much as you do.” He looked around to make sure no one could overhear
him. “There’s an old bam at the end of the street. I’ll arrange everything. Be there at ten
o’clock tonight.”
“Thanks,” Jamie said gratefully. “I won’t forget you.”
“Ten o’clock. The old barn.”

Novel Book: MASTER OF THE GAME

SIDNEY SHELDON
Copyright © 1982 by Sheldon Literary Trust

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