Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: INSOUCIANT (06/02/16)
TITLE: The Yellow Diamond
By Elaine Hemingway
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Ranulf de Klerk woke with a good feeling. Today was the day for a big one! He could feel it and he was ready for it. As he shaved carefully round his well tended beard he felt relaxed and confident.
“Komaan, Million,” he called through the stable door of his zinc-walled house on the diamond diggings of Drie Rivieren, in the Western Transvaal of South Africa.
“Ek soek my coffee. Is the fire going?"
“Ja, baas,” came the muffled reply.
With Christmas just around the corner at the tail end of the 1960’s, he would soon be back on his farm in Griqualand.
“It’s a big day today, so if you want your Krismis bonus, you’d better jump, boykie.”
Ranulf shaded his eyes against the rising sun and pondered the buyers’ arrival in two days time. Would it be the day when he made his fortune?
“How about the porridge, man. Is the pot cooking? I’m starving.”
He rubbed his burgeoning belly and grunted in anticipation.
“Three eggs and the rest of the boerewors,” he called to the black man tending the fire outside his shack. Machinery would soon be buzzing and everyone would be hoping for a good end to the year.
In such an insouciant frame of mind it was a bare hour later when the Afrikaner stood at his sorting table, his French Huguenot ancestry evident in his arrogance.
His labourers watched him warily, but today all looked sunny and hopeful. The first couple of sieves turned onto the table held nothing of special note but were good enough to keep his mind buoyant. Then it happened! The moment he had been waiting for and the confirmation of the feel-good start to his day.
It was a yellow diamond, settled snugly in the middle of the gravel. The sieve had just been turned so the washer boy could also have seen it. Doubtful though – he would have been retrieving the sieve, his view shadowed by the slats of the sieve – hopefully! In fact, the training was such that he would overturn the sieve and step back immediately. Ranulf deftly flicked the stone onto his trowel, transferring it to his other hand in a smooth movement and continued to stroke the gravel looking as intently as normal for any digger hoping for a find. Nonchalantly he placed the stone under his thumbnail with his hand spread on the edges of the table. It was a normal action as he carefully moved his trowel centre to side, gently sorting through the heavier centre section to the lighter sides.
Bent over the water barrel Landrian meticulously shook the gravel in a clockwise and contra-clockwise motion, the heavier stones gravitating to the centre while the lighter, inconsequential pebbles spread to the sides. It was a time honoured method of sorting the diamond bearing gravel, and in the heat of the Western Transvaal sun it was back taxing work. The “baas” was a reasonable man, and would be sure to give them good bonus if he had good sales, but the diamond Landrian had just seen him hide was a big one. Why did he hide it, and not put it with the others in his hussif?
At the crucial moment Million was bringing the flask of good boere coffee for his baas. So well known he was virtually inconspicuous, he put the tin mug on the edge of the table and sauntered away.
Two people saw what happened, and both knew that the “baas” had an idea up his sleeve! If he was not sharing his find then he must have a private buyer in mind that would make a sure and private profit for him. Knowing his background each had a good idea who it might be, but neither gave the slightest hint of their concerns. Both had alternative ideas of their own.
“Right, manne,” Ranulf called as pay was pocketed. “It was a good day. There’s a good bonus coming for you all at the end of this week if we find the big one.”
Sly grins went unnoticed, but there were questions to be asked the following morning when Ranulf did not appear at his door. Million reported his disappearance to the other delwers when Ranulf had still not appeared by lunchtime. By 3.00 pm the police were treating the disappearance as suspicious, and enquiries were under way.
1 Timothy 6:10.
Fiction 740 words.
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