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Rough Diamond- a story from South Africa Chapter 3
Chapter 3 Susan is looking for her father and possibly a diamond
“Where are you staying tonight?” Danie broke into her thoughts. “Can I drop you off somewhere? I live in Barclay with my folks.” “I don’t know - do you think it would be safe for me to stay here tonight?” she enquired with uncertainly in her voice. “Probably better if you don’t!” came the immediate reply, banishing that possibility from her mind. “I can take you to at a boarding house near where I stay, if you like.” “I really appreciate your kindness,” Susan replied gratefully, “but you need to tell me what Piet told you, so can I buy you a drink somewhere?”
The 15 km of dirt road into Barclay West, while sitting on the back of the bike with a cloud of dust following, did not give much time for thought, but right now she had no idea where she would even start to look for her Dad. Suddenly she realized how dependent she had become on Danie, whom she had only met a few hours ago, and she did not like the feeling. Growing up alone with her Mom, she had always been somewhat independent, especially when it came to members of the opposite sex. She had a few boy- friends while at school and university, but for some reason had always seen them more as friends, something they found hard to accept. Danie evoked a feeling of trust, but at the same time she did not want to become too dependent on him.
The boarding house on Coronation Street took her in like a long lost friend and Millie Stander promised to keep supper for her. A short walk down the street brought her to the Grand Hotel. Her arrival through the swing door was met with approving stares from the evening clients who were sitting at the bar counter or at one of the tables. The group playing darts on the left stopped and stared, and she thought for a moment that she heard a slight whistle. As a student in Port Elizabeth she had been out to the local bars along Summerstrand Road, where the students hung out, but this was a very different crowd.” Here I am Susan!”, Danie called out and she sensed that the crowd were asking questions as to who she was and how Danie knew her. She actually enjoyed the thought.
As they sat at the end of the bar counter sipping from their glasses of beer, Danie told her what Piet had told him. They had found a few good diamonds earlier in the month after a couple of really bad months. Jacque had paid him well after he cashed the stones in with the diamond buyers in town. They hoped that this run of good luck would continue as diamonds often seemed to occur in pockets.
Then came the big one - the diamond that all the claim owners worked for and dreamed of! At first they could not believe their eyes, and their luck! In all the years he had worked for Jacque they had certainly never found, or even seen one anywhere on the diggings nearly this size. In fact this seemed to be too good to be true. Had the sun and wind finally burnt and blown their minds away? Was this a cruel hallucination? As Jacque washed it and held it up to look at it, they both forgot to breathe. The blue color and clarity was something that shouted out “amazing”, “wonderful!”They both knew that this would mean a new life, and that night neither of them could sleep.
And then Jacque disappeared, and with him the excitement that Piet had experienced. Jacque had told Piet that he would go to the diamond dealers in Barclay to sell it the next day and then come and tell him what his share would be. He promised Piet that his share would be more money than Piet could even think of. Piet had been so excited to tell the news to his wife and children in their shack behind the Longlands Bottle Store that he had run home.
Days had passed and Piet had waited patiently for Jacques return. Then he walked into Barclay to look for Jacque. The story of the discovery of the diamond and the disappearance of Jacque began to do the rounds in town. Piet had gone to the police station to report the affair, but enjoyed little sympathy. The working relationship between Jacque and Piet was based on mutual trust and a verbal agreement. No crime had been committed, but they would make some enquiries and keep a lookout for Jacque as a matter of interest.
The diamond dealer that Jacque normally dealt with could not help as he had seen neither Jacque nor the diamond. As François Prinsloo sat in his booth that Friday he also pondered the mystery. Like the diggers, the buyers also dreamt of the big diamond that would perhaps bring them the profit that would change their lives. The buying of diamonds was a risky business, but could also be very profitable if the buyer made good decisions. Diamonds however were fickle, and money had been lost because buyers had overpaid on a rough that they could not sell at a profit. At the same time a good deal could be very profitable. If the diamond was as big as he had heard he would have loved to have been part of the deal. Now it seemed that Jacque had gone elsewhere.
The town was abuzz since the news of the discovery broke. Now this young woman arrived in town claiming to be Jacque’s daughter. What did she know about the affair? The bank and post office managers had been questioned by the police, not because a known crime had been committed, but because someone had simply disappeared and like everyone, else they too, were dying to know what had happened. The bank manager told the police that Jacque had drawn all the money out of his account and then drew a money order for someone for R4000. The post office manager confirmed that Jacque had sent a registered letter to someone, but would not give out details. That was the last that anyone had seen of Jacque as he drove away in his dilapidated Ford Cortina in the direction of Kimberly.
Susan had lived in a small town for most of her life and knew that news traveled fast and furiously. Danie had been helpful but did not really have any suggestions, except the very obvious one, to speak to the police. He introduced Susan to Sgt. Barry van Staden who was in the pub at the Grand for a drink or two. He suggested that Susan come and visit him at the police station the next morning and he would see what he could do. Barry, as a policeman and being naturally suspicious, made a mental note to phone the police station in Port Alfred to check on this attractive young ladies story.
Susan slept badly that night. She kept having bad dreams including one of someone breaking the window of the shack on her Dad’s claim and climbing in with a gun in his hand. She dreamt of a huge water monster swallowing someone who was holding a big glowing diamond in his hand. In another she saw small black children crying as they clung to their mothers legs with fear on their faces. She woke up when she heard someone cry out, “Watch out Jacque!” and realized that it was her own voice that had woken her.