if to himself, "If only I could be sure that big spot was near enough
to the middle; it wouldn't lose so much in the cutting in that case."
He immersed himself in thought. The office was dead quiet. Then he
sighed and said, "Make it four seventy-five. That's just about top
price for the color."
Van der Merwe in turn thought and counted and considered. After a
dramatic pause he did something—he must have made some sign, though I
didn't see it—that indicated acceptance. We all let out our breath, and
he took his piece of paper and went through the door, grinning.
Outside, a number of men crowded around to congratulate him.
that everything seemed anticlimactic. Mr. Bishop brought in a little
stone for which he got six pounds, and he said it was just about enough
to pay for his water. He stood around and exchanged pleasantries with
the next man, a European who was able to sell his take for ten pounds.
"That's pretty good," said Mr. Bishop ironically.
The other man grunted. "I've got to pay ten boys, man," he said.
how are you, Mrs. Bartlett?" said Mr. Cohen, greeting the lady digger.
She was too shy to be talkative. She dug into her sweater pocket and
produced a wooden needlecase, made in the shape of an elongated acorn;
from this she rolled out a stone that brought her twenty-five pounds.
This was good from Nooitgedacht standards, and everyone looked at her
admiringly, which made her more bashful than ever. She went out to the
tree and stood there, curious to see if anyone else had any luck.
Nobody had. The Van der Merwe diamond was the biggest that had been
found for several weeks, and everyone had evidently decided that it was
going to be a high spot for