They were bearing down on the reefs now, propelled by the terrifying power of the waves. The roar of the
wind was deafening. The raft was suddenly lifted high in the air by an enormous wave and flung toward the
“Hold on, Banda!” Jamie shouted. “We’re going in!”
The giant breaker picked up the raft like a matchstick and started to carry it toward shore, over the reef. Both
hanging on for their lives, fighting the violent bucking mot that threatened to sweep them into the water.
Jamie glanced down and caught a glimpse of the razor-sharp reefs below them. In another moment they
would be sailing over them, safe in the
haven of the shore.
At that instant there was a sudden, tearing wrench as a reef caught one of the barrels underneath the raft
and ripped it away. The raft gave a sharp lurch, and another barrel was torn away, and then another. The
wind and the pounding waves and the hungry reef were playing with the raft like a toy, tossing it backward
and forward, spinning it wildly in the air. Jamie and Banda felt the thin wood begin to split beneath their feet.
“Jump!” Jamie yelled.
He dived over the side of the raft, and a giant wave picked him up and shot him toward the beach at the
speed of a catapult. He was caught in the grip of an element that was powerful beyond belief. He had no
control over what was happening. He was a part of the wave. It was over him and under him and inside him.
His body was twisting and turning and his lungs were bursting. Lights began to explode in his head. Jamie
thought, I’m drowning. And his body was thrown up onto the sandy shore. Jamie lay there gasping, fighting
for breath, filling his lungs with the cool, fresh sea air. His chest and legs were scraped raw from the sand,
and his clothes were in shreds. Slowly, he sat up and looked around for Banda. He was crouching ten yards
away, vomiting seawater. Jamie got to his feet and staggered over to him. “You all right?”
Banda nodded. He took a deep, shuddering breath and looked up at Jamie. “I can’t swim.”
Jamie helped him to his feet. The two men turned to look at the reef. There was not a sign of their raft. It had
been torn to pieces in the wild ocean. They had gotten into the diamond
field. There was no way to get out.
Behind them was the raging ocean. Ahead was unbroken desert from the sea to the foothills of the distant,
rugged, purple mountains of the Richterveld escarpment, a world of kloofs and canyons and twisted peaks,
lit by the pale moon. At the foot of the mountains was the Hexenkessel Valley—”the witch’s cauldron”—a
bleak wind trap. It was a primeval, desolate landscape that went back to the beginning of time itself. The
only clue that man had ever set foot in this place was a crudely printed sign pounded into the sand. By the
light of the moon, they read:
VERBODE GEBIED SPERRGEBIET
Novel Book: MASTER OF THE GAME
Copyright © 1982 by Sheldon Literary Trust