#48 – jump back on the raft

There was no escape toward the sea. The only direction left open to them was the Namib Desert.
“We’ll have to try to cross it and take our chances,” Jamie said.
Banda shook his head. “The guards will shoot us on sight or hang us. Even if we were lucky enough to slip
by the guards and dogs, there’s no way to get by the land mines. We’re dead men.”
There was no fear in him, only a resigned acceptance of his fate. Jamie looked at Banda and felt a sense of
deep regret. He had brought the black man into this, and not once had Banda complained. Even now,
knowing there was no escape for them, he did not utter one word of reproach.
Jamie turned to look at the wall of angry waves smashing at the shore, and he thought it was a miracle that
they had gotten as far as they had. It was two a.m., four hours before dawn and discovery, and they were
both still in one piece. I’ll be damned if I’m ready to give up, Jamie thought.
“Let’s go to work, Banda.”
Banda blinked. “Doing what?”
“We came here to get diamonds, didn’t we? Let’s get them.”
Banda stared at the wild-eyed man with his white hair plastered to his skull and his sopping trousers hanging
in shreds around his legs. “What are you talking about?”
“You said they’re going to kill us on sight, right? Well, they Blight as well kill us rich as poor. A miracle got us
in here. Maybe a miracle will get us out. And if we do get out, I damned well don’t plan to leave emptyhanded.”

“You’re crazy,” Banda said softly.
“Or we wouldn’t be here,” Jamie reminded him.
Banda shrugged. “What the hell. I have nothing else to do until they find us.”
Jamie stripped off his tattered shirt, and Banda understood
and did the same. “Now. Where are all these big diamonds that you’ve been
talking about?” “They’re everywhere,” Banda promised. And he added, “Like
the guards and the dogs.” “We’ll worry about them later. When do they come down to
the beach?”
“When it gets light.”
Jamie thought for a moment. “Is there a part of the beach where they don’t come? Someplace we could
“There’s no part of this beach they don’t come to, and there’s no place you could hide a fly.”
Jamie slapped Banda on the shoulder. “Right, then. Let’s go.”
Jamie watched as Banda got down on his hands and knees and began slowly crawling along the beach, his
fingers sifting sand as he moved. In less than two minutes, he stopped and held up a stone. “I found one!”
Jamie lowered himself to the sand and began moving. The first two stones he found were small. The third
must have weighed over fifteen carats. He sat there looking at it for a long moment. It was incredible to him
that such a fortune could be picked up so easily. And it all belonged to Salomon van der Merwe and his
partners. Jamie kept moving.
In the next three hours, the two men collected more than forty diamonds ranging from two carats to thirty
carats. The sky in the east was beginning to lighten. It was the time Jamie had planned to leave, to jump
back on the raft, sail over the reefs and make their escape. It was useless to think about that now.


Copyright © 1982 by Sheldon Literary Trust

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Alex says:

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