#53 – Gate to Freedom

When Jamie opened his eyes, something had changed. He lay there on the sand, his body stiff and aching,
trying to remember where he was. He could see Banda asleep six feet away, and it all came flooding in. The
raft crashing on the reefs … the sea mis
… But something was wrong. Jamie sat up, trying to figure out what it was. And his stomach lurched. He
could see Banda! That was what was wrong. The mis was lifting. Jamie heard voices nearby. He peered
through the thin mists of the dissipating fog. They had crawled near the entrance to the diamond field. There
was the high guard tower and the barbed-wire fence Banda had described. A crowd of about sixty black
workers was moving away from the diamond field toward the gate. They had finished their shift and the next
shift was coming in. Jamie got on his knees and crawled over to Banda and shook him. Banda sat up,
instantly awake. His eyes turned to the watchtower and the gate.
“Damn!” he said incredulously. “We almost made it.”
“We did make it! Give me those diamonds!”
Banda handed him the folded shirt. “What do you—?”
“Follow me.”
“Those guards with the guns at the gate,” Banda said in a low voice, “they’ll know we don’t belong here.”
“That’s what I’m counting on,” Jamie told him.
The two men moved toward the guards, drifting between the line of departing workers and the line of arriving
workers who were yelling at one another, exchanging good-natured catcalls.
“You fellas gonna work your asses off, man. We got a nice sleep in the mis….”
“How did you arrange for the mis, you lucky bastards… ?”
“God listens to me. He ain’t gonna listen to you. You’re bad….”
Jamie and Banda reached the gate. Two huge armed guards stood inside, herding the departing workers
over to a small tin hut where they would be thoroughly searched. They strip them down mother-naked and
then they look up and down every hole they’ve got. Jamie clutched the tattered shirt in his hand more tightly.
He pushed through the line of workers and walked up to a guard. “Excuse me, sir,” Jamie said. “Who do we
see about a job here?”
Banda was staring at him, petrified.
The guard turned to face Jamie. “What the hell are you doin’ inside the fence?”
“We came in to look for work. I heard there was an opening for a guard, and my servant can dig. I thought—

The guard eyed the two ragged, disreputable-looking figures. “Get the hell back outside!”
“We don’t want to go outside,” Jamie protested. “We need jobs, and I was told—”
“This is a restricted area, mister. Didn’t you see the signs? Now get the hell out. Both of you!” He pointed to
a large bullock wagon outside the fence, filling with the workers who had finished their shift. “That wagon’ll
take you to Port Nolloth. If you want a job, you have to apply at the company office there.”
“Oh. Thank you, sir,” Jamie said. He beckoned to Banda, and the two men moved out through the gate to
freedom.

Novel Book: MASTER OF THE GAME

SIDNEY SHELDON
Copyright © 1982 by Sheldon Literary Trust

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