Li Du was only making a random guess. Little did he know, he was most probably right.
There might be snake nests near the tunnel. Muller told him that he had also found venomous snakes after they had dug a distance into the mine for the tunnel. Furthermore, due to their carelessness, one of his miners was bitten by a venomous snake.
"Luckily, we managed to provide treatment in time and had antivenin in the mine. Otherwise, the situation would have turned really bad." Muller said, "As we continued to dig further in afterward, we encountered more and more snakes...."
After finding so many snakes, the miners were reluctant to enter the tunnel and did not want to continue digging. All of them had wives and children back home, and they were afraid that they might get bitten.
Since Muller did not find any traces of the gemstone vein in the tunnel, he also decided to stop digging the tunnel and backfill it. Consequently, the tunnel was as Li Du and his group had found it. They stopped work after only excavating half of the tunnel.
After his explanation, Muller asked cautiously, "Since this type of situation is very common in all of the mines, you don't think I have scammed you, right? I didn't hide negative information from you out of ill intent, right?"
Li Du's revenge on Blanchett had made them cautious of him. Muller believed that he was not as capable as Blanchett and hence, would be less able to fight against Li Du, so he did not dare provoke him.
Sensing fear in his words, Li Du burst into laughter and said, "Oh, of course not. I am only calling you to find out more about the situation. We have also encountered a lot of venomous snakes."
Muller advised, "Listen to me, friend, just give up on this tunnel. It's normal for two snakes to appear. With so many snakes appearing, this is clearly a snake nest."
There were quite a number of snake nests below Australia's surface. When a lot of snakes were found while digging tunnels, or when snake infested tunnels were found, people would usually link them to snake nests and give up on digging.
However, Li Du could not give up, as this tunnel led to a black opal vein that contained at least upwards of millions of dollars worth of gemstones.
Li Du ought to have thanked these snakes, as they were the ones who stopped Muller and his miners. Otherwise, Muller and his miners would have already discovered the gemstone vein.
It was not difficult to chase snakes away, as all that was needed to be done was to scatter potent snake repellent powder. If that failed to work, Li Du could use mud to seal up the tunnel and find out where the snakes were coming from.
Li Du was a little puzzled. When I was looking through the tunnel earlier, I did not see a single snake. Why did the snakes appear right after I dug open the tunnel?
He controlled the little bug and sent it back into the tunnel. He slowly came up with an explanation after taking a closer look at the surrounding situation.
As the groups of snakes did not live in or near the tunnel, he was not able to spot any when he checked through the little bug previously. It was only after the tunnel was dug open that the snakes started to appear.
As though there was something attracting the snakes, they mainly gathered at the end of the tunnel after appearing in it.
The only reason that Li Du could think of was that the black opals were attracting them. The snakes had wanted to get closer to the gemstone vein in the past. However, the tunnel had been backfilled, and the layers of rocks near the gemstone vein were sturdy and had no gaps to allow them to get closer.
As there were gaps around the tunnel, the snakes were able to return to the tunnel through the gaps after the rocks used to backfill the tunnel had been dug out.
If his speculation was correct, it meant that, like what the miners had said, snakes were connected to black opal veins.
However, the aforementioned relationship did not hold water. People already had this speculation and did not discover any correlation between snakes and black opals after carrying out experiments. In other words, they did not find snakes to be very much interested in black opals.
Even though Li Du was completely clueless as to what was going on, he had to continue the excavation.
After buying two large buckets of snake repellent powder and bringing them back to the mine, Brother Wolf first scattered some around the small wooden cabin, followed by wearing a pair of goggles and a face mask, and entering the tunnel to scatter some inside.
If Li Du could, he would not have used the powder. As snake repellent powder contained strong irritants, Ah Meow, Ah Ow, Crispy Noodles, and Ali hated it.
The snake repellent was very effective. After the snake repellent had been scattered in the tunnel, the groups of snakes inside began to disperse and slithered away through the gaps around the tunnel.
Having scattered the snake repellent powder twice in a row, all the snakes in the tunnel had dispersed. It was only after all the snakes had dispersed that Li Du and the others were able to continue with the excavation.
With the inside of the tunnel covered with powder, Li Du and the others had a much harder time excavating. They were not able to use the tunnel fan, or else the snake repellent powder would fly everywhere and completely cover their bodies.
Because they were unable to use the tunnel fan, staying inside the tunnel, which was humid and stuffy, was simply torturous.
Luckily, as both Brother Wolf and Godzilla were hardworking, able to endure hardships, and compliant, they did not complain and continued with the excavation while wearing face masks.
After the tunnel had been completely excavated, digging deeper was next. This time around, they had to use tools such as the rock hand drill machine.
Due to having scattered the snake repellent powder, digging this tunnel required much more effort than digging a new tunnel in the number 115 mine had. The people inside the tunnel were mainly the ones suffering.
This was the reason why the miners gave up on digging the tunnel after they had discovered that there were groups of snakes inside. Even though using the snake repellent powder would definitely chase the groups of snakes away, the powder was too torturous.
Li Du was able to endure the torture as he was sure of gemstones' location. If he had not known whether there would be gemstones further in, he would also have not been able to press on.
The circumstances reminded Li Du of the Chinese saying, "The sharpness of a legendary sword was due to being honed, and the fragrance of plum blossoms was due to the cold, bitter winter."
This saying that was created by those who came before was, as expected, wise. After having suffered, they finally reached the gemstone vein and dug out rocks that contained black opals.
Li Du gave Godzilla and Brother Wolf a reward of 100,000 dollars each.
After receiving the money, both of them were even more willing to endure the hardship and still wanted to continue digging, even when it began to rain at the end of May.
Among the subordinates, Li Du was the most fond of them, as both of them had a, "If my master treats me well, I have to repay him," attitude.
Li Du giving them money would not make them greedier and would only win their gratitude and respect. Both of them would work even harder to repay him.
However, with the continuous autumn rain, Li Du stopped them from digging for safety reasons.
Brother Wolf put forward his opinion saying, "There are gaps between the rocks underground. The rainwater will flow into the tunnel through the gaps. With that, the snake repellent powder will be washed away by the rainwater before long. When that happens, the groups of snakes will return."
Li Du shook his head and said, "If that's the case, let's wait 'til the weather gets better. We can scatter the snake repellent powder again. I will definitely not allow you to continue digging. Brother, you have also seen water seeping into the tunnel. Because of that, the tunnel is dangerous."
The quality of the land around Lightning Ridge was relatively decent mainly due to the sturdy layers of rocks, which made tunnel collapse incidents less likely to occur. However, it did not mean that they would never occur.
The autumn rain continued for two days. On the night of the second day, the autumn rain suddenly became a storm.
After braving the rain to catch small lobsters on the morning of the third day, Li Du returned and cooked up a large pot of spicy small lobsters and enjoyed it with beer.
The instant that the pot of small lobsters was served, the pot suddenly trembled and a dull sound could be heard. Bang!
Ah Meow and the other three furry children, who were lying on the floor, jumped up and, with anxious looks, gazed to the west at the same time.
Li Du instinctively made a joke. "The thunder was so loud, even the pot jumped from the vibrations. I thought that the small lobsters were still alive."
With a grave look on his face, Brother Wolf said, "No, boss. A tunnel has collapsed!"