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[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] LUCK…

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[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] LUCK AT THE DIAMOND FIELDS. BY DALRYMPLE J. BELGRAVE (BARRISTER- A T- LAW). A TALE OF THE KIMBERLEY COACH. CHAPTER I—(Continued.) The next morning when the coach started, several black eyes and damaged faces bore witness to the dis- turbance of the night before. Aarons was badly marked, and seemed by no means to have recovered t,he rough handling he had received; for he was much less cheerful than he had been, and his conversation for some time wss confined to a few muttered vows of vengeance against Darrell. Jim Brawnston, too, had the satisfaction of being able to admire the colour he had put on to the faces of Aarons' two friends. The treatment seemed to have been very beneficial in tak- ing the insolence and noise out of the patients who had been subjected to it, and in consequence the journey became much pleasanter; and after all it was not so bad as it had promised to be. Brawn- ston had plenty of stories to tell of South African adventure. After Darrell expressed his remorse at having been to a certain extent the cause of the un- seemly broil of the night before, and had been for- given by Kate, as he was soon enough, a sympathy that became stronger every day grew up between them. It was on the fourth day of their journey that the coach had outspanned at a farm-house by the road- side, and Kate and Darrell were sitting under some trees in the garden of the farm-house, by the edge of a cool shaded pool of water. There is a certain charm about those South African farms which most travellers in the country must have experienced. One seems to have never before enjoyed seeing trees and the soft green of vegetation until one has travelled for miles in the desert. The few bright flowers and the patch of waving maize are more grateful than in a country of fields and trees the most carefully tended garden could be. One of the team of mules which had been inspanned at the last station had turned sick, and the guard of the coach, careless of the remonstrance of the other passengers, who were in a hurry to get to their journey's end, had prolonged their outspan for some hours to give the sick beast time to get round. Neither Darrell nor Kate were indignant at the delay or were in a hurry to start. They had only known each other for a few days, but already they felt as if they were old friends. Those long days of travelling across the stretches of desert veldt can be pleasant enough. There is something in the atmosphere and surroundings of the country that makes one forget the past, and feel careless of the future; it has the same effect upon one's mind as the sea has. One gets the feeling of rest and distance, and begins to fancy that one has little to do with oneself, as one was once in other lands that seem so far away. There is nothing to be met with that re- minds one of the rest of the world. The strings of laden waggons slowly wending their way over the veldt to the distant Diamond Fields, give an idea of carelessness about time, and worry, and the world in general. The sleepy looking farm-houses, where there is none of the thriving bustle of other lands—and everything suggests progression only at ox-waggon pace—help to carry out the idea. In those days Darrell had learnt almost all that there was to learn about this companion's history, but had in return told her very little about himself, though she had gathered from what he said that he had seen a good deal of life, had lived most of his life in good society, was a gentleman, but for some reason or other, so she fancied, the memory of his past life was painful to him, though she was sure that his story had not been discreditable. As they sat in the shade looking at the group of passengers collected round the sick mule, and listening lazily to the voice of the member of the Legislative Ass^Iy, who was denouncing the guard for not inspanning at once, the same thought was in both their minds- their journey would soon be at an end, and very likely they would never see each other again for the farm she was going to was sixty miles from Kimber- ley, while he was going to the Yaal River diggings. One thought had been for some time in his mind. Why should his whole life be wrecked because of that act of folly in his youth ? Did not the thousands of miles that separated him from England break the shameful tie he loathed ? Who need ever know that, George Darrell, digger of Red Shirt Rush, Vaal River, was the same man as Darrell of the Lancers, who like a fool made his good old name shameful by giving it to the woman he had married. He cursed his folly as he remembered himself little more than a boy marrying a woman years older than himself, who, wild as he was then, was as much his inferior morally as she was socially. It was the life he had been leading which had left him weak enough to become drunk with that woman's coarse beauty, he told himself, as he cursed the folly of that one sin, for which fate never forgives a man, which he bad committed. She did not want anything more from him. He had settled all he had on her before he left England for ever; she had got all she married him for, and would not bother him any more. Why should he not forget all about her and his old life ? Yes," he said, partly answering something she had said and partly continuing his own thoughts there is something in this country that gets rid of old memories, hopes, and ambitions. Four as five generations of it have turned the descendants of knightly French Huguenots into the dull brutish Dutch Boers one meets here, who have not two ideas in their heads beyond eating and sleeping, and are far less civilised than the Kaffirs. Yes, it's a good country to forget in." I hope not," she answered; I don't want to forget my past; I have plenty of happy 'memories." As she spoke a sad look came into her eyes. "You have a past you can look back on with plea- sure I can only curse my folly when I look back," be said bitterly. For a second or two he was silent struggling with himself. Why should he suppose that she would take any interest in hearing the shameful secret of his life ? but something told him that he had better tell it. Then without leading up to it, he told her the story of his marriage, and about the woman in Eng- land who was his wife. Very clumsily he told it, but he felt all the better when he had got it out. At first when she heard his story she realised how much she had begun to care for this man whom she had known only a few days then she felt angry with herself for feeling so much interested in his history, and determined that he should never know that she had not listened to it with perfect indifference. What a fool I was to think that she would care I might have saved myself the trouble of telling her my private affairs, Darrell said to himself, when, having listened to him with ostentatious unconcern, she made some excuse to leave him and go to the coach. When he came up Bome ten minutes after he found that she had left the party. The people to whose farm she was going had been to Kimberley, and on their way back they had come round to meet the coach. She was to go with them, and had got into their waggon. The horses were inspanned to the coach; he had only time to say uood-bve when they started off. Would they ever meet again, he thought, as he looked back over the flat at the waggon, until it became a white speck on the horizor CHAPTER II. A TEAR had passed since Kate said good-bye to George Darrell. Her life seemed to her to be divided into three volumes-her early life, the journey up to the Diamond Fields, and her present life at Jagger's Drift. The last volume seemed likely to be dull enough. Day after day passed without any strange face coming or any incident happening. The family consisted of Mr. Van Beers, a good-natured old Dutchman, who slept a good deal, and had very little to say for himself when he was awake his wife, who had never time to attend toanylhing but the children, of whom there were about a dozen, the eldest a boy of fourteen, the youngest an infant in arms. Taking it altogether, Kate's life was a fairly happy one, for though it was dull, there was very little to trouble her, and it was free from many of the little vexations which would be her lot at home. One drawback of it was, that she had too much time for thinking, and her thoughts curiously often went back to the incidents of the journey up, and she often in her mind's eye saw the face of George Darrell as it looked when he blurted out the secret of his life. From that day she had never heard of him little news ever came to .Tagger's Drift, and none would be likely to come of such an obscure person as George Darrell, digger, of Red Shirt Rush, Vaal River. That digging she had heard was up the river some sixty miles off. Many a time she had looked up stream and wondered how he was faring, and whether he still ever thought of her. The Homestead at Jagger's Drift was a large, one-storied house, with a garden running down to the river. On the other side the house fronted a long flat, stretching far away to a range of low hills in the distance. A dozen or so of wood waggons would pass every day on their way to the Diamond Fields, but there was little other traffic. Across the river was Gordon, a place which some speculative people fondly believe is destined to be an important centre in the future. It had, for reasons known to the authorities at Capetown, and to no one else, been chosen as the seat of the magis- tracy for a large district, and there was a magistrate's house, a jail, and some police tents while a court- house was being built. There were also two canteens, in one or the other of which in turn the spare popu- lation collected and listened to the proprietor of the establishment as he cursed his rival. The new Government buildings were to be on a grand scale, quite up to what Gordon was destined to become in the future, according to the estimate of the most sanguine believers in it. They mock us with their buildings," was the opinion often expressed by Jack Johnstone, the Civil Commis- sioner's clerk, as he looked at the new erections with a malevolent eye, for be had applied persistently and in vain for an increase of his salary, and he looked upon all other expenditure of Government money as a personal insult. Blessed if they haven't brought a lot of white convicts over here to muddle away at that cursed place," he said to M'Flucker the canteen-keeper one afternoon, as, with a pipe in his mouth, he stood out- side the latter's store, and looked towards the hated erection, where some Kaffirs and white men were working listlessly as convicts do work. "That's not a lag's face, I'd have bet; if I had seen it anywhere else I'd have sworn that fellow was a gentleman and an honest man; he looks it, though he has got a broad arrow stamped on his shirt," he said, as he noticed one convict, a tall man, who looked very un- like his companions. "But I dare say he is the biggest scoundrel of the lot," he added. Just then Kate Gray, who had come across the river with some of the young Van Beers, walked past the building. Johnstone, as he watched her with a good deal of admiration, noticed that she was also looking in the direction of the tall convict who had attracted his attention. To his surprise he felt almost certain that he saw their eyes meet with a glance of recognition. She seemed to start and almost pause for a second. The convict pushed his hat over his eyes, and stooped over his work as if he did not wish to be recognised. By Jove, I'd have bet those two know each other, or have seen each other before, but it must be only a fancy though—it isn't likely," Johnstone thought to himself, as he took off his hat and shook hands with Miss Gray. After they had talked for some time about the few subjects for conversation that their life at Gordon afforded-the health of M'Fluker the store-keeper's wife, the date of the return of the magistrate at Gordon, who was away on leave, and the fact that the river was rising—Miss Gray turned the conversation to the subject that had interested them both. "Who are those men working at the court-house, —the white men I mean ?" she asked, as Johnstone thought, with considerable interest. "They are gentlemen who are working for her gracious Majesty without pay, and receiving their board and lodging gratis." You mean they are convicts. What sort of of- fences do you suppose they have committed, and where do they come from ?" They have come from Kimberley, and they may have committed any offence, but it's long odds that they have bought diamonds—that's their special weakness on the fields." Bought diamonds !—why I should have thought that was just what diamond diggers wanted people to do." "Bought diamonds that the Kaffirs have stolen from their master's claims, I mean; those men, how- ever, have probably made a mistake, and been caught by the police. When the police see that the wily il- licit diamond buyer is well on the feed they throw one of their flies, and send him a Kaffir with a dia- mond to sell. If the fish rises to the fly and buys, they strike, find the diamond, and haul the 1. D. B. up before the court, when he gets five years. It's a pretty sport is trapping 1. D. B.'s, and these are most likely some of the many fish who have been caught." What a wretched mean business it stems to be, but I'm sure he could not have been trapped." Hallo, so you talk about him as he,' do you ?" thought Johnstone. You mean the tall convict; I was looking at him just now, and wondering what his history was. Well, if he has a long sentence, if I were he, I'd make a bolt for it. The convict guards are always more or less asleep, and I'd chance their shooting straight. I suppose it would not be much good though, one could never get away across the veldt without a horse." If he had a horse do you think he would get off Where could he get to ?" Sixty miles north he'd be out of the reach of the police, in Stellaland, where there is a lot of rough work going on, and anyone who had plenty of pluck would find men who would welcome him as a comrade and care very little whether he had a broad arrow stamped on his shirt or not." Ah, well, perhaps he is used to being a convict,, and does not care to escape," Kate said, for she felt that perhaps she was unwise in showing so much interest in the convict's fate. "Perhaps he is; don't know that it matters whether one is a convict or not, if one has to live in this country. Certainly, being in their infernal civil service is next door to it," Johnstone answered, as he walked to the river-side with them. As he re- turned after seeing them cross, he wondered where ■ Kate could have seen the convict before. That they bad met he somehow felt certain. He was right; Kate had recognised George Darrell, her fellow- traveller in the coach, in the convict. He had had a run of bad luck since they had parted. First of all his old partner, Jim Brawnston, had been obliged to leave him, as one of his brothers had died, and he had been wanted on his father's farm in Natal. Then for a long time he had found no diamonds. After a bit, however, his luck seemed to have changed, and diamonds began to turn up on his sorting-table. The queer thing about those diamonds was, that they were unlike river stones, and much more of the appearance of the stones found in the mines. The diamond buyers to whom he sold seemed, he thought, to look at thfjm and him rather queerly when he brought them out to sell. He did not, how- ever, trouble himself much about this. While he was working at his claim, not over rejoiced at the slight turn of luck he was experiencing, as he had hardly any ambition to make money, one day a conversation took place in the office of. the head of the police in Kimberley, which would have opened his eyes if he had heard it. There had been a good deal of what is called illicit buying down the river for some time. Per- sons who had bought stolen diamonds, and wished to dispose of the diamonds advantageously, had taken to get men who pretended to be river diggers, to pro- fess to have found them in their claims, and sell them advantageously. Stolen diamonds are rather awkward property to dispose of, as dealers have to keep registers by which diamonds can be traced back to the diggers who first found them; so it was an advantage to give a diamond that had been stolen a fictitious history. The head of the police had determined to put a stop to this practice, and had sent a man down the river to see what was going on. The information he had received had surprised him a good deal, and at first he hardly believed it. "What, Darrell of Red Shirt Rush in this ? Why, I should have thought be was straight," he was saying to one of the detec- tives, who had come in to see him with another man. It ain't the first time, sir, you've thought that about a party we have found to be pretty deeply in the trade now this man here sold Darrell as many as half-a-dozen diamonds which we can swear to, and which we can prove he has sold again is not that so, Seers?" the detective said, turning to the ill- looking, undersized man who had come in with him. Yes, sir, he has bought 'em off me; he has been buying for this last twelve months to my knowledge and working off illicit stuff from his claims," the man answered, his eyes as he spoke wandering about furtively, looking anywhere except into the face of the person he spoke to. Well, I suppose there is no doubt about it. It's high time some one was made an example of down the river: you and Sergeant Black had better go down and trap Darrell, with this man Seers," the head of the police said after he had talked for some time. "Look here," he added, calling the detective on one side, "thatfellow is an infernal scoundrel, and are yon sure he is not humbugging us ?" Well, sir, white traps mostly are infernal scoun- drels, but what he says is right enough about Darrell. What object bhould he have in telling us what was wrong ?—besides, I don't think he would try and foo me," the detective said with a grin, which expressed considerable satisfaction with his own astuteness. Two evenings after this conversation, the man Seers came into Darrell's tent, pretending that a mate of his was ill, and be wanted to be given some brandy. Darrell knew the man by sight, having seen him lately hanging about the diggings, and bad not been much prepossessed by his appearance. He was civil enough to him, however, telling him he had got no brandy, and listening to his description of his mate's illness. The man talked away for a few minutes, and then went to the opening of the tent, gave a shout, and then in a second, to Darrell's astonishment, two men, one of whom he knew by sight as a Kimberley de- tective, made their appearance. In a twinkling they had handcuffed him, searched him and the tent, and found a diamond in a pannikin near his bed. Darrell's protestations of his innocence went for very little, and in the course of another twenty-four hours he found himself a prisoner in Kimberley jail, wait- ing a trial for buying a diamond illicitly. On his trial it proved that Seers had been searched before he went into the tent, and had no money upon him when he came out he had ten sovereigns in his possession. The detectives were able to swear to the diamond found in Darrell's possession as the one they had given Seers before he went into the tent. The case seemed to be exactly like the ordinary cases of trapping that come before the courts at Kimberley almost every week. The judge who tried it expressed his opinion that it was one about which he had not the slightest doubt as to the prisoner's guilt, and sentenced him to hard labour for five years. The crime of buying stolen diamonds is considered on the Fields one of the most heinous of offences, those who are convicted of it being seldom allowed to escape without a severe punishment. After Darrell had done some of his sentence in the Kimberley jail, he had been sent with some other convicts to work at Gordon, so that was how it came to pass that Kate recognised her travelling companion in the tall convict. (To be continued.)

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