The Mining Commissioner spoke truly. Three cheery gentlemen asked, expressed opinions that confirmed the Commissioner views evidently looking upon Morag’s expedition as a glorious joke. All agreed that even if the claims were discovered they would require a large expenditure in development work to justify a modern company looking at them.
“I tell you what Miss MacDonald,” said one whose voice proclaimed him a fellow countryman “If you trust yourself with me I’ll run you out and look at the country – where the claims supposed to be Mr Anderson?”
Sending for some files the Commissioner studied them a while then turned to a large scale map. “Here’s Taba Mhlope a solitary hill about fifteen miles from the main railway line. It’s on the edge of the granite and the claims are somewhere about it slopes or adjoining them.”
“Is there a road to the hill?” asked the mining man. “Sure to be Mr MacGregor it’s on a big ranch.”
“Fine then Miss MacDonald if you like I’d run you out tomorrow. Better give her a couple of licences Mr Anderson. It’ll be quite in order won’t it?”
“Oh Lord, yes Miss MacDonald as heir to Mac’s estate and intending to remain in Rhodesia can I have all the licences she wants – you are twenty-one I hope Miss MacDonald and intend to remain in Rhodesia?”
“I’m twenty-two Mr Anderson and as regards Rhodesia, I honestly don’t believe I could leave it.” Spoken like a man Miss MacDonald” laughed Mr MacGregor well if you’ll pay Mr Anderson £2 you’ll become a full fully-fledged prospector entitled to hunt for minerals and oils in any part of Rhodesia. Complying with a few formalities Morag was given two licences each entitling her to peg ten mining claims.
“Come along Anderson let’s adjourn to drink the new prospector’s health,” called MacGregor’s seizing the protesting official and leading the way to a large but battered car.
Early next morning Morag sitting beside Mr MacGregor drank in the freshness of a Rhodesian dawn as she listened to tales of the ups and downs of prospecting and mining.
“You’re on an absolute wild goose chase Miss MacDonald,” she was told “if your Uncle had left any definite information and you had a couple of thousands to risk in a mining venture it would be an exciting experience looking for and perhaps finding and developing a lost reef. Mind you if it looked good I myself would mind helping you and Anderson is a valuable friend that way, but I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed.
“Oh well,” laughed Morag “I’ve come out to a happy friendly country where apparently jobs that easy to get and everyone is nice.
McGregor granted “I’m not wishing to belittle Rhodesia its folk but mind you when Joe Maxwell owner of the Try-Me-Again brings a bonnie lassie into the Mining Commissioner that gentleman is wishful to be friendly to the girl apart from whether she’s pretty or a newcomer. An old fool like Duncan MacGregor again would perhaps like to do the Commissioner a favour even if by doing so he risked his reputation for canniness and propriety.”
Gurgling the girl shook her head “Confess Mr MacGregor that it’s my Hielen tongue that’s won you to your deed of kindness.”
“Which is no kindness but a very great pleasure Miss MacDonald but this’ll be where we turn off – I’ll be asking the road to Taba Mhlope.”
Enquiry at the combined trading store and bar which courageously a notice board claiming that it was also an hotel showed they were on the right road. Some eighty miles from Bulawayo.
“Take that road to the right Mister said the Storekeeper “It’ll bring you to The Shamrock Ranching Company’s Main Camp. They’ll put you on the road to Taba Mhlope from there.”
Half an hours spin brought the car into the wilderness of heavily bushed hills and great stretches of park-like country.
“Oh but this is the sort of country I always thought Africa was like” cried Morag “Oh but its beautiful.”
“Aye, one sees the wrong side of Africa from the train Miss MacDonald – you see the railway follows a high and narrow watershed. Twenty miles either side and one is in a different country altogether. We’re in good prospecting country now – see there’re quite a number of abandoned mining properties about.