Li Du acted like a conscientious little farmer, hard at work searching among the rocks on the ground.
He knew that he was sure to win the bet, and his win would be so clear-cut no doubts would be raised.
But he could not announce his win so directly, so as not to arouse any suspicion. He pretended to work hard searching, speedily sweeping away rocks to look for any traces of the gemstone.
It was suffocating to put up a pretense but what made it worse was the sniggering of everyone around him:
"What are you doing, buddy? Is this how you look for gems?"
"Are you plowing? Trying to cultivate a vegetable garden here? I heard the Chinese are good at farming."
"Really a rookie. You look like you're diving for fish in the waves. Nothing will come out of it!"
He remained silent.
Sophie came forward to help Li Du and sorted out the stones for him to look through.
She also had doubts about his method, and whispered, "Darling, are you sure this is gonna work?"
Many surrounding gem hunters were already throwing sarcastic remarks at Li Du; she was worried that her question would add fuel to fire and quickly elaborated, "I'm not doubting you. Just asking if this is a good way to do it?"
Li Du smiled at her. "It may not be a good method for others, but it is for me. At storage auctions, I depend a lot on my observation skills. My observation skills are not like everyone else's."
Ah Meow and Crispy Noodles also came over to help. Ah Ow used her claws to scoop up a few rocks but as she was still young, her claws were tender. Soon she was in pain and switched to using her mouth to push the rocks about.
The trio did not understand what Li Du and Sophie were doing; they only saw them pushing the rocks apart and so followed suit.
This was the chance for Crispy Noodles to display his prowess. The structure of the raccoon's claws was different from that of the other animals; they had thumbs so they could clean up after themselves after grabbing food.
In terms of digging up the rocks, the raccoon's paws were very useful. They mimicked how humans grabbed hold of rocks but could do it even faster and more efficiently.
Many of the tourists exclaimed in amazement, with many of them whipping out their cameras to capture the sight.
Noticing how Crispy Noodles was sorting through the rocks skillfully, Li Du's heart fluttered. Maybe he could make use of Crispy Noodles in his pretense, just like how he had with Ah Meow in the past.
Crispy Noodles was not as strong as Ah Meow but his ability to focus and his stamina were far better than the ocelot's. He worked hard to dig up the rocks; he didn't care what was under the rocks, as he did not actually know what he was doing.
Raccoons are very adept at digging up rocks, as they are born to do this. In the wilderness, raccoons like to live by rivers. This is so they can be close to a water source and feed on fish.
Fish like to hide under rocks. To catch them, raccoons need to turn the rocks over.
Crispy Noodles was doing this same motion.
As Li Du was mindlessly working, he set himself another goalto temporarily find another job.
He could easily search for gemstones using the little bug, and the potential money was more than what he could make from storage auctions.
He was searching for opals, one of which could be worth tens of thousands of dollars. And that was just an ordinary one. If it were the finest fire opal, it could fetch hundreds of thousands or even a million dollars.
It would be next to impossible to earn this much from a storage auction.
He had already made his rounds about the whole of Arizona and had seen the state of the storage units. It would be tough to make huge gains in future.
As he pondered, Crispy Noodles reached the location of the opal. With his two little paws, he dug up the rocks with gusto.
His action caught the eye of a tourist, who said, "This hog-nosed raccoon's clever. See how nimble its paws are? And how it just keeps going at it?"
"Maybe we should train raccoons to find the gemstones," a gem hunter joked.
Someone next to him grinned. "Not unless you stuff a human soul into this guy. Otherwise" Before he finished speaking, Li Du suddenly walked to where Crispy Noodles was. He threw the small pickaxe aside, and then used a small shovel to push some rocks apart before retrieving a small stone.
The stone was orangey-yellow and translucent-looking. There were some speckles in it. From some angles, it looked like a blossoming flower!
The gem hunters who had been teasing him were all flabbergasted. The tourists cried out in astonishment.
"He found a fire opalhe really found one!"
The fire opal came in many colors: orangey-yellow, bright orange, orangey-red, red and even dark red. They could also range from translucent to transparent.
The value of the stone was determined by how bright its color was. The closer it was to the color of fire, the higher its value. Red ones were the most valuable, and the redder the better. Following that, orange ones were more valuable than yellow ones.
The highest-grade fire opal resembled a burning flame and was highly transparent. This was a collector's favorite, and a single stone could be worth millions!
Li Du's opal was not by any means inferior to Cyril's. Although his was more yellowish, under the sunlight it looked more translucent.
When the little bug had seen it under the rock, he could not pick up on its translucency due to the dimness. He had thought this stone was not worth as much but, actually, this was not true.
The surrounding gem hunters were transfixed on the stone in his hand. The group of them stared blankly at Li Du. Someone cried out, "God, he really found it?!"
Sophie turned her head and immediately whooped with joy. "Oh darling, you found one!"
Li Du smiled. "Not meCrispy Noodles found it. But since he belongs to me, then of course it is the same as me finding it."
As he spoke, he picked Crispy Noodles up and placed him on his shoulder. With a silly grin on his face, Crispy Noodles held onto Li Du's head as he perched on his shoulder.
Sophie ran over cheering. As she held the stone up, she gasped, "The Native Americans are right. This gem is as beautiful as the bird of paradise!"
The fire opal has a long history. As early as the Mayan and Aztec periods, it was regarded as a treasure by the local people. This gem, which exuded a warm, charming orangey-red tone they had dubbed, "stone of the bird of paradise," as Sophie had mentioned.
As Li Du cleaned the dust off of himself, he handed the gem to Owen the gem trader. "Buddy, why don't you see if there's any problem with it?"
Owen stared at him in astonishment. "Bro, what's your relationship with God?" He had to ask this; just as the hunters had said, it was virtually impossible to find an opal within an hourespecially for a rookie like Li Du!
"I'm a good person," Li Du answered, "and God favors those who are good. Besides, my girlfriend is a devout Christian. Maybe that's why."
Owen scrutinized the stone. "He won. Everyone, this is a real opal!"