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Rough Diamond -a South African short story ch 5
The search for a father continues
As Susan opened the door to her room, she felt her knees go weak and her head spinning. How could this have happened? Everything was trashed! Millie heard her scream and came down the passage to stand next to her with her hand over her mouth and a look of horror on her face. The room had been ruthlessly searched; Susan’s back pack torn apart, the pillows and duvet ripped to pieces, the mattress from the bed and drawers of the cupboard, lying on the floor.
Millie took her hand and led her away to the sitting room. “I will phone the police station and someone will be here shortly. Let me make us a cup of tea.” Susan was shaking like a leaf but the older woman’s presence seemed to have a calming effect. “I’m so sorry about the room”, Susan shook her head and then held it in her hands as she slumped into the sofa. “It’s not your fault”, Millie reassured her, but they both knew that what had happened was the result of her being there.
Sgt. van Staden arrived with the young policewoman in tow, presumably to help with looking after the two women. He carefully examined the room and then joined the three of them in the sitting room. “Mrs. Stander, please don’t let anyone go into the room until the fingerprint team arrives from Kimberly”, he asked, though it was actually a polite order. He now seemed much more serious than he had been earlier when Susan had visited him. Millie explained to him that she had been out of the house doing some shopping for an hour or two after breakfast. She had not noticed anything untoward when she returned, but then she had not gone into the room.
Susan explained that she had been to the library after leaving the police station and had returned to collect her towel and swimming costume when she discovered the mess. “Luckily I had my purse with my driver’s license, cash and bank card in it, with me!” she said. “Can you come with me into the room and see if anything has been taken?” the Sgt. requested. “Be careful not to touch anything that may have finger prints on it”.
Nothing seemed to be taken and they returned to the sitting room where a business like Sgt. van Staden asked the two women a series of questions. What exactly had taken place that morning? What had been in the room? Was there anyone else in the house? Had they noticed anyone suspicious hanging around? He made some notes in a small note book and the young policewoman watched him carefully.
“We now have a serious situation on our hands”, he stated in his more formal policeman voice and Susan, who had recovered somewhat from the initial shock, chuckled to herself at his statement. She silently said to herself, “Yes, I really believe we do, Sgt. van Staden!”
“We will take down statements from both of you and open a “house breaking and entering” docket because this is much more serious now”. Serious seemed to be coming up again and again in his statements and in Susan’s mind. She thought “What am I going to do?” and must have mumbled it to herself. To her surprise the police Sgt. replied; “We will have to think about that. The situation may be getting dangerous. These things tend to get like that in the diamond fields and especially when a big stone is involved. We will also need to increase our efforts to find your Dad”.
Fear suddenly gripped her heart as she began to realize that whoever had searched her room was probably looking for the diamond. You didn’t have to be a detective or a brain surgeon to work that out. Why would someone think that she might have the diamond? What did it mean in relation to her missing father? She had no idea. Perhaps the detective would be able to help there.
While in the library she had gone on a crash course on life on the diamond fields. She had found out several interesting, but also worrying facts. Firstly she learnt that diamonds of the size her Dad is reputed to have found, were rare indeed. If it was in fact so big and if the quality Piet Swart had spoken to Danie about was correct, it could well be worth several or even many millions of rand. Much depended on the colour, purity and clarity of the rough diamond, or so she had read. Recently a “fancy light pink diamond” of 35 ct. had been sold on the world market for a staggering $150 000 a carat!
The true value of a rough diamond could only be established once a diamantaire had cut a window into the rough stone. Using his loupe, he then studied the inside of the uncut stone to look for possible impurities or flaws that could be a problem when the eventual diamond cutter worked on it. Diamonds of certain colours such as red (or pink) or blue were often more valuable. Sometimes the colour changed in the cutting process as heat was produced. Diamond could lose thousands or even hundreds of thousands of rand in a second while on the cutting bench.
The diamond buyer, when shown a rough diamond, had to take many factors into account while offering a fair price to the seller. Perhaps Jacque knew that his stone needed closer scrutiny before he could establish its value. Where would he go to for such help?
She had also learnt that a diamond of that size would be sought after by the really big buyers in South Africa and even overseas in London, New York, Amsterdam or Tel Aviv. At the same time, where such amounts of money were involved, the bad guys would be drawn to it like bees to the honey pot. Why had her dad not gone to his usual buyer? Where was he now? These were questions that she hardly dared ask because the answers did not appear to be good. All she knew for certain was that she was way out of her league and she would have to depend heavily on Sgt. Barry van Staden for help. Such a lot had happened in such a short time that her head was spinning.
To be continued.