#56 – meet the customer

But most of all, he thought of Banda. His friend.
When they had reached Cape Town, Jamie had urged, “Stay with me.”
Banda smiled, showing his beautiful white teeth. “Life’s too dull with you, Jamie. I have to go somewhere
and find a little excitement.”
“What will you do now?”
“Well, thanks to you and your wonderful plan about how easy it is to float a raft over the reef, I’m going to
buy a farm, find a wife and have a lot of children.”
“All right. Let’s go to the diamant kooper so I can give you your share of the diamonds.”
“No,” Banda said. “I don’t want it.”
Jamie frowned. “What are you talking about? Half the diamonds are yours. You’re a millionaire.”
“No. Look at my skin, Jamie. If I became a millionaire, my life would not be worth a tickey.”
“You can hide some of the diamonds away. You can—”
“All I need is enough to buy a morgen of farmland and two oxen to trade for a wife. Two or three little
diamonds will get me everything I’ll ever want. The rest are yours.”
‘That’s impossible. You can’t give me your share.”
“Yes, I can, Jamie. Because you’re going to give me Salomon van der Merwe.”
Jamie looked at Banda for a long moment. “I promise.”
‘Then I’ll say good-bye, my friend.”
The two men clasped hands.
“We’ll meet again,” Banda said. “Next time think of something really exciting for us to do.”
Banda walked away with three small diamonds carefully tucked in his pocket.
Jamie sent off a bank draft amounting to twenty thousand pounds to his parents, bought the finest carriage
and team he could find and headed back to Klipdrift.
The time had come for revenge.
That evening when Jamie McGregor entered Van der Merwe’s store, he was gripped by a sensation so
unpleasant and so violent that he had to pause to regain control of himself.
Van der Merwe hurried out of the back of the shop, and when he saw who it was, his face lighted up in a big
smile. “Mr. Travis!” he said. “Welcome.”
“Thank you, mister—er—sorry, I don’t remember your name…”
“Van der Merwe. Salomon van der Merwe. Don’t apologize. Dutch names are difficult to remember. Dinner is
ready. Margaret!” he called as he led Jamie into the back room. Nothing had changed. Margaret was
standing at the stove over a frying pan, her back to them.
“Margaret, this is our guest I spoke of—Mr. Travis.”
Margaret turned. “How do you do?”
There was not a flicker of recognition.
“I’m pleased to meet you.” Jamie nodded.


Copyright © 1982 by Sheldon Literary Trust

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