Having heard Owen, an old-timer in the gem, say what he had wanted to hear, Li Du smiled and was about to leave with Sophie.
Owen tried to keep them. "It's almost time for lunch. Li, Ms. Martin, why don't you stay for lunch? I know of a restaurant in Winslow that serves delicious lamb."
Li Du thanked him politely but said that he would like to explore the place on his own.
Hence, Owen had no other reason to retain them.
After they stepped out, a puzzled Sophie asked him, "You agreed to his offer so readily? Why did you not inquire at a few more jewelers? I've been learning Mandarin and there's a wise saying: 'Huo bi sanjia.'"
Li Du said, "This guy's smart, and he's the biggest jeweler in Winslow. I bet he's already given me the best deal. To get an even higher price, we'll have to go to LA or New York."
He was not keen to wait any longer and also didn't have the time to travelhe had to continue his search for fire opals.
This batch of fire opals had earned him about 2.6 million dollars, and he believed that Owen could also make a bundle from this, at least 500,000 to 600,000 dollars.
The quality of the opals he had provided was good and many of them were color-changing ones with beautiful patterns.
These type of fire opals were art pieces in their own right, and could be sold with minimal processing. A few pieces that were not color-changing were still worth quite a sum. They were clear and could be carved into gemstones.
The carved fire opals' value was dependent on the opals' color and level of translucency. If it were transparent, the fiery colors would come through better after the carving and the reddish base color would look deeper. It would then fetch a higher price.
Driving the pickup truck, the four of them went around Winslow.
As Sophie looked out of the window at the autumn street scene, she sighed, "Time flies. Spring's gone and autumn's here. It's as though we entered spring barely a second ago."
"Does Arizona still have spring?" Big Quinn scoffed. "I thought it was summer a second ago."
The summer season was especially tortuousthe scorching sun in Arizona was merciless.
Sophie giggled, "Alright, let's say it was summer a second ago. Time still went by very quickly."
Li Du's head was bowed as he fiddled with his phone; soon after, SMS alerts sounded on both Big Quinn and Godzilla's phones.
Godzilla turned on his mobile phone for a look and then turned it off. Later, when they stopped the car or Sophie to get out to buy something, Big Quinn, who had been doing the driving, took out his mobile phone for a look and said in surprise, "Boss, 20 grand?"
He had given them 20,000 dollars each, a bonus of sorts.
Both Godzilla and Big Quinn worked for Li Du, and it was fine if he didn't give them any additional money. However, he always chose to pay them a small bonus each time he made some money.
It was usually not this much. The average was a few thousand dollars. But this time, Li Du had earned more money more than 2.6 million dollarsand so he decided to give the two of them a bigger bonus.
There were Chinese stories about how if you helped a man once, you gained his gratitude but if you helped him twice, you would gain his hatred. The saying warned that "a discontented man is like a snake trying to swallow an elephant." Li Du, however, was not worried about stretching these two men's appetites, simply because he trusted them.
Although both Godzilla and Big Quinn had been with him for a short timeless than a yearthey had conducted themselves well.
Based on their characters, as long as Li Du did as he promised and gave them their salaries on time, they would work for him faithfully.
But this was not good enough; Li Du wanted the two of them to be fiercely loyal to him and follow him wholeheartedly, as well as stand by him come what may.
This required him to offensively turn on the charm over a longer period of time to win them over, which was something he couldn't do. So, he had a different tactic: to buy their loyalty with money when they were in dire circumstances.
The loyalty that could be gotten through money, could be bought with moneythis made sense but the premise was that the situation happened under the same circumstances: Li Du rescuing the two men when they needed it most.
When the two of them had met Li Du, they had hit rock bottom in their respective lives. Li Du had ensured that they were fed and paid them high salaries. This was not only a recognition of their abilities but also a kindness offered during their time of need.
They were no longer deprived of money and status. Even if they received higher salaries, it was just icing on the cake. No matter what, this icing on the cake could not be compared to the kindness that had been offered during their time of need.
Furthermore, Li Du usually gave out money as quickly as he earned it. His rivals were not as generous as he was in this aspect.
His strategy had worked. Godzilla and Big Quinn always acted according to his instructions. During the past few conflicts, the two of them had always made sure to protect Li Du first.
Based on their working relationship, if all Li Du had ever done was pay them on a regular basis, they would not have done that.
Sophie returned with ice cream for the three of them, and also took out three bowls which she filled up with ice cream.
The three brats tucked their heads into the bowls and devoured the ice cream happily.
After they had recharged themselves with lunch in town and some rest, they proceeded with their second round of work.
Li Du chose another plot of land and paid another 1,000 dollars. This way, they could stay another two days in the national park.
As they drove along, Sophie spotted two familiar faces and rolled down the car windows to speak to them. "Hey! Brendan and Alicia, how're you?"
Brendan, Stephan's cousin, was a professional gem hunter. The two of them were on a huge motorcycle, speeding down the road.
Each of the treasure hunting trades required different accessories. One only needed to look at the accessories to know what trade the other party was in.
Most of the storage treasure hunters drove trucks. They needed to clear out storage units and clear out all the items from there. Only trucks offered the space for their items.
Treasure hunters dealing with secondhand goods drove pickup trucks. They needed to pick and choose secondhand goods, which would usually not be in huge quantities. Hence, pickup trucks would suffice.
Motorcycles, on the other hand, were the trademark mode of transport for gem hunters. All that was needed for this trade were some boxes, a tent, and some tools. The motorcycle was the ideal vehicle of choice.
Besides, the gravel ground at the national park was not ideal. A huge chopper with higher flexibility would be better suited for the ground conditions there.
Brendan who was driving, glanced at Sophie and recognized her immediately.
This was easy, for Sophie's looks and demeanor were quite outstanding and all those who met her remembered her.
Sophie's beauty caused most men to lose their minds and even do silly things, like that artist they had scared away earlier.
However, Li Du felt that not all men would behave that way. The pair of cousins Brendan and Stephen were not such men. They were honest and trustworthy, not like some who would have designs on the opposite sex.
However, what happened next had made him doubt his own judgment. Upon seeing Sophie, Brendan waved back at her excitedly!
Li Du freaked out: You realize you're riding a motorcycle, bro? It's fine holding the handle with one hand but you gotta know what ground you're on. This is all gravel and it's probably challenging to hold the motorcycle with two hands.
Sure enough, after Brendan had released one of his hands, the swaying motorcycle behaved as though it were a wild stray dog that had been untied. It slipped on the ground and threw the two of them off.
Li Du drove over in a hurry. Brendan got up and without bothering to brush the dust on him off and told Li Du excitedly, "Hey Li, hurry! Hurry to the gem mine!"