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234
THE DIAMOND
By 1870 the Inland Transport Company ran an ex­press wagon from Cape Town to Klipdrift once a week, carrying passengers for twelve pounds sterling each. The journey consumed from seven to ten days. The wagon and horses were carried by rail to Wellington. From there on, the journey was made by wagon, drawn sometimes by eight horses, two abreast, at others by ten mules, 'through Karoo Poort, an opening between two mountains leading to the Karoo Plains, a desolate stretch of forty miles enclosed on all sides by lofty mountains, and on over the Karoo to Beaufort West, Victoria West, Hopetown, across the Orange river and on to Pniel.
Although Port Elizabeth was nearer, the fields were much more difficult of access from there, as the only public means of conveyance was by ox-wagon, taking from thirty to sixty days to accomplish the journey.
The search for diamonds was carried on in primitive fashion. The newcomer might preempt a new claim by taking out a license, or jump an old one if the former owner had failed to pick it in three days according to rule, or he could buy one from the owner. At that time claims were sometimes sold for as much as one hundred pounds, but not often. The implements necessary were pick, shovel, rocker, or a couple of half barrels, and, if away from water, an ox or mule, and a cart. The latter could be hired by the day if the digger did not own them. Some provided these things at the coast towns and brought them along, but they could be obtained cheaper at the diggings. In the early days, before the finding of the " Star of South Africa," the departures were about as frequent as the arrivals. The funds of many of the diggers were exhausted before they found