The Diamond Hunters
Wilbur A. Smith
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The Van Der Byl Diamond Company, willed by its founder to his son Benedict, daughter Tracey and estranged foster-child Johnny Lance, turns out to be a bequest not of love, but of hatred. For it is couched in such terms as to offer Benedict an instrument of destruction of his bitterest rival. 'Destroy Johnny' was the old man's implacable message to his son, and, obsessively jealous of his foster-brother, Benedict sets out in ruthless pursuit of this goal.
In a desperate bid to support Johnny, Tracey acquires for him the concession in the diamond-rich seabed round the coral islands of Thunderbolt and Suicide off the savage South West African coast, and Johnny throws all his resources into the construction of a vessel that will recover the stones from the ocean floor and repair his fortune at last. But Benedict, already involved in illegal diamond-dealing as a sideline, seizes this chance to attack his rival and, with a network of accomplices and some ingenious electronic tampering, plots to siphon off the diamonds. Johnny will not only be ruined by his liabilities, he will also be a laughing stock.
However, Benedict's obsessive jealousy is his undoing. He cannot resist stripping his rival of his beautiful but bitchy wife Ruby as well, and when he then discards her, she takes her revenge, precipitating a climax of murder and destruction that consumes Benedict at last.
Narrated with Wilbur Smith's irresistible driving thrust, this is a tale of brotherly hatred, redeemed only by the deepening love between Johnny and Tracey. It is set in London, Cape Town, on the thunderous seas around the ocean diamond fields and ends in a final confrontation between Johnny and Benedict in the blistering hyena-infested desert.
Tracey. She had been out of the nursing-home for a month now, staying with friends on a small farm near Somerset West. When Johnny climbed out of the Mercedes, and Tracey came down from the stoop to greet him, he had his first real lift of pleasure in a long time. “God,” he said. “You look great.” She was dressed in a cotton summer dress with open sandals on her feet. Her friends were away for the day, so they walked through the orchards. He studied her openly, noticing how her cheeks and
girl and the boy who was her brother, in fact if not in name. They held each other in the bed, and whispered and laughed secretly until sleep carried them both away. Then suddenly the castle was blasted by the bright electric glare of the overhead light. The Old Man was standing in the door of the bedroom, and Benedict was behind him in his pyjamas dancing with excitement and chanting triumphantly. “I told you, Pa! I told you so!” The Old Man was shaking with rage, the bush of grey hair
steel with rubber liner. We can get it down to a hundred fathoms, and it has a compensating section in it to stop it plunging with the wave action of the hull.” “Eighteen inches is pretty big. How will you build up vacuum?” “That’s the point, Hugo. We don’t suck—we blow! We evacuate water from the hose by purging it with compressed air, the inrush of water into the opening of the hose sucks in the gravel.” “Hey, that’s neat. So the deeper you work the more effective it will be!” “Right.”
stadium entrance, and the home team trotted on to the field. The presence of the Old Man and Tracey added intensity to the glare of hatred that Johnny turned on the tall white-clad figure that fell back to take control of the Cape Town back field. Benedict van der Byl reached his position and turned. From inside his calf-length sock he took a comb and ran it through his dark hair. The crowd bellowed and whistled, loving this little theatrical gesture. Benedict returned the comb to his sock and
out the canvas bag. Weighing it thoughtfully in his hand, he looked about the cabin for a more secure hiding place. Through the canvas he could feel the nutty irregular shape of the stones. “That Johnny, he a clever bastard,” he muttered. “It better be good place.” Then he reached a decision. “Best place where I can watch them all a time.” He opened his jacket and stuffed the bag into his inside pocket. He buttoned the jacket and patted the bulge over his heart. “Fine!” he said. “Good!” And