#60 – Opportunities

Jamie picked up a menu and glanced at it. A steak cost one pound four shillings, a potato was four shillings
and a piece of apple pie ten shillings.
“They’re robbers!” Van der Merwe complained. “A few meals here and a man could eat himself into the
Jamie wondered what it would take to put Salomon van der Merwe in the poorhouse. He intended to find
out. They ordered, and Jamie noticed that Van der Merwe ordered the most expensive items on the menu.
Margaret ordered a clear soup. She was too excited to eat. She looked at her hands, remembered what they
had done the night before and felt guilty.
“I can afford dinner,” Jamie teased her. “Order anything you like.”
She blushed. “Thank you, but I’m—I’m not really very hungry.”
Van der Merwe noticed the blush and looked sharply from Margaret to Jamie. “My daughter is a rare girl, a
rare girl, Mr. Travis.”
Jamie nodded. “I couldn’t agree with you more, Mr. van der Merwe.”
His words made Margaret so happy that when their dinner
was served, she could not even eat the soup. The effect Ian Travis had on her was incredible. She read
hidden meanings into his every word and gesture. If he smiled at her, it meant he liked her a lot; if he
frowned, it meant he hated her. Margaret’s feelings were an emotional thermometer that kept going up and
“Did you see anything of interest today?” Van der Merwe asked Jamie.
“No, nothing special,” Jamie said casually.
Van der Merwe leaned forward. “Mark my words, sir, this is going to be the fastest-growing area in the world.
A man would be smart to invest here now. The new railway’s going to turn this place into a second Cape
“I don’t know,” Jamie said dubiously. ‘Tve heard of too many boomtowns like this going bust. I’m not
interested in putting my money into a ghost town.”
“Not Klipdrift,” Van der Merwe assured him. ‘They’re finding more diamonds all the time. And gold.”
Jamie shrugged. “How long will that last?”
“Well, nobody can be sure of that, of course, but—”
“Don’t make any hasty decisions,” Van der Merwe urged. “1 wouldn’t like to see you lose out on a great
Jamie thought that over. “Perhaps I am being hasty. Margaret, could you show me around again tomorrow?”
Van der Merwe opened his mouth to object, then closed it. He remembered the words of Mr. Thorenson, the
banker: He walked in here and deposited a hundred thousand pounds, cool as you please, Salomon, and he
said there’d be a lot more comtn’.
Greed got the better of Van der Merwe. “Of course she could.”
The following morning, Margaret put on her Sunday dress, ready to meet Jamie. When her father walked in
and saw her, his face turned red. “Do you want the man to think you’re some kind of fallen woman—dressin’
up to attract him? This is business, girl. Take that off and put on your workin’ clothes.”
“But, Papa—” “Do as I say!” She did not argue with him. “Yes, Papa.”
Van der Merwe watched Margaret and Jamie drive away twenty minutes later. He wondered if he could be
making a mistake.
This time Jamie headed the carriage in the opposite direction. There were exciting signs of new
developments and building everywhere. If the mineral discoveries keep up, Jamie thought— and there was
every reason to believe they would—there is more money to be made here in real estate than in diamonds
or gold. Klipdrift will need more banks, hotels, saloons, shops, brothels… The list was endless. So were the
Jamie was conscious of Margaret staring at him. “Is something wrong?” he asked.
“Oh, no,” she said, and quickly looked away.


Copyright © 1982 by Sheldon Literary Trust

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