weeks to come. The last man in line was a toothless ancient who
haggled gently but stubbornly until he brought Mr. Cohen's offer up
from thirty-two shillings to thirty-five.
not worth thirty-five," said Mr. Cohen to me as he packed up, "but you
get to know these old boys, and it's hard not to let go once in a
while. I wonder if I made a mistake on the big one?"
was time for the pay-off; once again those diggers who had decided to
take their money lined up, papers in hand. Everyone fell silent again,
respectfully, as Mr. Van der Merwe collected his. He asked for it in
small notes, nothing more than five pounds. Then in little groups or
couples the diggers strolled off and disappeared. The red, baked land
looked bleached now in the fierce sun. Mr. Cohen locked his case and we
all had tea. Mr. Van der Westhuizen said, "They're supposed to go back
to work now for the rest of the day. The weekend doesn't begin
officially until tonight. But not many people go on digging after the
pay-off. Well, Mr. Cohen, how do you feel about your big diamond?" "I
may have made a mistake. I hope not," said Mr. Cohen.
going on out at Nooitgedacht?" a diamond buyer in Kimberley asked me,
over a pot of tea, when I got back to town. He spoke in the manner of
an adult inquiring how nursery school had been today.
was one pretty big diamond, weighing more than eight carats," I told
him. "There wasn't anything else. But I noticed there's been quite an
imposing record of big finds out there over the years. They've had lots
of luck in their day, haven't they?"