I Break Three Times Into Diamonds 159
came from Australia. Australian boart had
to be procured before the work could proceed, and the diamond cutter
was furious with the London dealer who had sold him the goods. He would
indeed have brought an action against him, but the quarrel was composed
by mutual friends. He had a real grievance, too, for Australia was then
not generally known as a source of diamonds. But those who regularly
handled Australian brut (rough diamonds) were fully aware of
the difference in hardness, and consequently knew that any diamond
cutter ignorant of the fact would be "up against it".
although there is no natural substance harder than diamond, there have
been produced certain alloys of tantalum which not only compete for
wearing qualities with the hardest of all stones, but are even harder
than diamond. Amongst the many opportunities to become rich that I have let slip through my fingers I must count the chance I once had to clean up a fortune out of tantalum.
takes me back thirty-odd years, to the wooden jetty at Port Headland on
the Never-Never coast of Northwestern Australia, where an enormous
stack of bagged ore attracted my ever lively curiosity.
"What's in those?" I asked a dock-hand.
"Tant'lum," he said. "And there's the chap that owns it. Lord knows what he's going to do with it. He don't. Nobody wants it."
could have bought the lot for the price of a round of drinks, to save
him dumping it all in the sea, where it ultimately went. But I had
never heard of tantalum, or I would have bought that shipload on spec
and would not