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They were all waiting.
"Professor! Here I am!" called out Joe. In the middle of the crowd of natives, he was squatting in front of the cotton cloth that was spread into a square. On it laid 15 to 20 rocks and pebbles. He was making sure no one touched.
They cleared space for me. I sat down to examine the rocks. I took the biggest piece, rubbed it on a stone, removed the dirt and examined it against light.
Phew! A sudden, tiny flash of light! Turn around and around and tilt, another flash. Very, very tiny specks – invisible to all but the trained eye, but no doubt, it IS the real thing!
I kept it down. Took another smaller one. Phew!
Joe was eager - "Professor! Are these precious?"
He had come to this nowhere land on a trek with the natives and dug into a small dried pond to get water. Instead he found the hard stones and was intrigued. He called me his geology teacher from the base camp to see if they could be diamonds.
I thought for a moment. They sure are diamonds. But should I reveal that here?
If I do, the lifestyles of this entire small village will turn upside down. The natives will kill each other for wealth. Their smiles will vanish. Those who are having hands on each other’s shoulders will no more do so.
Determined, I took the cloth will all its stones and threw it into the well.
'What!' exclaimed Joe.
There was uproar from the native crowd.
"Joe, you just wasted your time! It is all junk, pure dirt"
Joe was disappointed.
As Joe and I walked out through the chattering crowd, I felt the satisfaction of having saved the purity and harmony of one of the very few uncorrupt small communities left on the face of the earth and the thrill and expectation of coming back later and grabbing the fortune of my lifetime.
10 minutes to write from the time this prompt was given: write a story involving a professor, a place in the middle of nowhere and a tablecloth.