The Diamond Hunters
A Novel By Wilbur Smith
.....Nobody writes a better story about conflict between brothers over wealth, women, and work than Wilbur Smith. 'The Diamond Hunters' is a Classic Smith novel that has all the excitement that I've come to expect, and the no-way-I-can-put-it-down page-turning addiction that all of his books instill.
.....'The Diamond Hunters' is a story about two brothers, Johnny and Benedict. Johnny struggles to hold on to the one thing that he has worked his whole life to build, his father's diamond mining business, and Benedict uses the overwhelming tools he has been given to completely destroy Johnny's life.
.....Johnny has never gotten along with his father. The man disowned him at an early age and never visited, but kept him in the business for his uncanny knack at finding diamond fields. Johnny worked like a madman to earn the Old Man's respect, and believed he was making progress right up until the very end. When Johnny is summoned to a meeting and learns that he has been included in the Old Man's will and given an equal share to that of Benedict and his sister, he believes for the first time that his father has taken him back.
.....'Johnny Lance had a father at last. He wanted to reach up and touch the Old Man. His chest felt swollen, tight with emotion. Behind the eyelids was a slow soft burning. Johnny blinked.'
....."This is -" His voice was ragged, and he coughed, "I just don't know how to tell you -"
.....'The Old Man interrupted him impatiently, silencing him with an imperious gesture, and he croaked at Mike.'
....."Now read him the codicil of the Will. No don't read it. Explain it to him."
.....'Michael's expression changed; he looked down at his papers as he spoke, as though reluctant to meet Johnny's eyes. He cleared his throat unnecessarily and shifted in his seat.'
....."By codicil to the Will, dated the same date, and duly signed by Mr. Van der Byl the bequest of shares in Van Der Byl Diamond Co. Ltd. To JOHN RIGBY LANCE, is made conditional on the issue of the said JOHN RIGBY LANCE of a personal guarantee for the debts of the company, including the present loan account and amounts outstanding to tributary companies for the royalties and options."
....."Christ," said Johnny, stiffening in his chair and turning to stare incredulously at the Old Man. The tightness in his chest was gone. "What are you trying to do to me?"
.....'The Old Man dismissed Mike Shapiro quietly, without even looking at him. "I'll call you when I want you." And when he had gone he repeated Johnny's question.'
....."What am I trying to do to you?" he asked. "I am trying to make you responsible for debts totaling two and a half million Rand."
....."No creditor would come to me for a half a million, I would be hard pressed to raise ten thousand on my personal account." Johnny shook his head irritably, the whole thing was nonsensical.'
....."There is one creditor who would come to you, and subject you to the full process of the law. Not to receive payment in cash - but in personal satisfaction. He would smash you and delight in doing so."
.....'Johnny's eye's narrowed disbelievingly. "Benedict?"
.....'The Old Man nodded. "For once Benedict will hold the top cards. He won't be able dislodge you from the management of the company, because Tracy will support you as she has always done - but he will be able to watch every move you make from his seat on the Board of Directors. He will be able to hound you, bring you and company down without suffering financial loss himself. And when you fall - you know better than to expect mercy from him. You will be devoured by the ogre you have created."
....."Created?" Johnny's voice was shocked. "What do you mean?"
....."You turned him into what he is now. You broke his heart, made him weak and useless-"
....."You are crazy." Johnny came to his feet. "I have never done anything to Benedict. It was he who-"
.....'But the Old Man's husky croak brushed aside Johnny's protests. "He tried to run with you - but could not. He gave up, became small and vicious. Oh, I know about the way he is - how you made him."
....."Please, listen to me. I did not-"
.....'But the Old Man went on remorselessly. "Tracy also, you have ruined her life. You enslaved her, in you sin-"
....."That night!" Johnny shouted at him. "You never let me explain. We never-"
.....'Now the man's voice was a whiplash.'
....."Silence!" And Johnny could not defy him, the habit was too deeply ingrained. The Old Man was trembling, his eyes glittering with passion. "Both my children! You have plagued me and my family. My son is a weak-willed drifter, trying to hide his hurt in a hunt for pleasure. I have given him the instruments to destroy you, and when he does so, perhaps he will become a man."
.....'The Old Man's voice was straining now, rusty and pain-racked. He swallowed with an effort, his throat convulsing - but their was no softening in the glitter of his eyes.'
....."My daughter also, tortured by her lust. A lust which you awakened - she also seeks an escape from her guilty passion. Your destruction will be her release."
....."Your wrong," Johnny cried out, half in protest, half in entreaty. "Please, let me explain -"
....."This is how it will work. I have made you vulnerable, linking you to a crippled and foundering enterprise. This time we will be rid of you." He stopped to pant quickly, like a running dog. His breathing was strangled, harsh-sounding. "Benedict will cut you down, and Tracey will have to watch you go. She cannot help you, her inheritance is carefully tied up, she has no control of the capital. Your only hope is the Kingfisher. The Kingfisher will turn into a vampire and suck your lifeblood! You asked why I was systematically transferring assets of Van Der Byl Diamonds to my other companies? Well, now you know the answer."
.....'Johnny's lips moved. He was very pale. His voice came out small and whispery.'
....."I could refuse to sign the guarantee."
.....'The Old Man smiled bleakly, a drawing back of the lips that was without warmth or humour.'
....."You will sign it." His voice was wheezy. "Your pride and conceit will not let you do otherwise. You see, I know you. I've studied you all these years. But if you refuse to sign the guarantee, I will have smashed you. Your shares will go to Benedict. You will be out. Out! Gone! We will be finished with you at last." Then his voice dropped, "But you will sign. I know it."
.....Johnny is faced with unbelievable odds and, with his sister's help, fights to save his fortune, life's work, and honor from the devestation Benedict aims to target at him. I am sure you will enjoy the book as much as I did. Wilbur Smith provides us with another novel that sticks to our hands like bubble gum to our shoe.
Wilbur Smith. 'The Diamond Hunters' Ballantine Books. Copyright 1971. Published in New York, New York, 1990.