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A Dash from Diamond City   By: (1831-1909)

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A Dash from Diamond City, by George Manville Fenn.

The setting is South Africa, during the Boer war. Two young men are sent from Mafeking with important despatches which they have to get back to the General at Kimberley, travelling through Boer occupied country, and meeting with many mishaps. Just before they finally arrive they are both severely wounded, and are unconscious for a fortnight. Luckily the despatches, which had been sewn into a jacket, now filthy and blood stained, are still to be found, though there had been the idea that the jacket would most probably have been thrown away, as it wasn't at first anywhere to be found.

There are other threads in the story, for instance there's one about illicit diamond dealing, and of course we meet Boers and Kaffirs, as well as English people.

There is the usual well written sequence of tense moments we get from this author. A good read, and a nice audiobook if you prefer that. NH




Tick, tap, tap tap, ticker ticker tapper tapper ; tick teck, tacker tap went a typewriting machine, and scratch scratch went two pens, in one of the minor offices connected with that vast wealth producing industry known as the De Beers Diamond Mines, where, seated at desk and table, three young men were hard at work, one manipulating the typewriter, one writing a letter, and the third making entries in a fat leather covered book with broad bands and a big letter distinguishing it upon the back.

The words: "minor office in a diamond mine," naturally suggest wealth, Turkey carpets, french polished furniture, and plate glass; but the office in question was an example of simplicity, for its walls were mud and its roof corrugated iron, while the roughness of the interior was only slightly softened down by a lining of what a carpenter calls matchboarding. In spite of its vast wealth, Kimberley is still little better than a moving camp, and holds out few prospects of ever becoming a magnificent town.

The interior of that newly created office, allowing for the tapping of the typewriter and the scratching of the pens, was very quiet; but outside there was the strange sound produced by the mingling of voices with trampling feet and the distant whirr and rattle of machinery, till a clock began striking, followed by the clangour of a bell, and then all was changed.

"Time!" shouted the manipulator of the typewriter, springing from his stool to stretch his wiry six feet of length, at the same time spoiling a keen, manly face by distorting it with a yawn. The clerk who had been bending over the thick account book ceased making entries, applied the blotting paper, and closed the book with a bang, to turn round and display a pink and white, fat, smooth face, disfigured by nearly white eyebrows and lashes and curly whitey brown hair. As he stood up he yawned and wrinkled his fat face a good deal; but the wrinkles died down into a smile which gave him a meek and mild appearance, the said smile being doubled directly after by his taking a little round shaving glass out of his desk, propping it up by means of a contrivance behind, and then, by the help of a pocket comb, proceeding to rearrange his hair, which, from the resistance offered, appeared to be full of knots and kinks.

The last to leave his desk was a manly looking young fellow who appeared to be twenty, but who possessed documentary evidence that he was only eighteen. He neither stretched nor yawned, but drew himself up with a sigh of relief, and, after carefully locking up the letters he had written, he turned to the typist.

"Going out, Ingleborough?" he said.

"Yes; I shan't be long. I must go on to the compound. Back in "

"Five minutes?" dashed in his questioner... Continue reading book >>

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