The result was tragic. He had not found many black opals and had not been wealthy. The miner had never married, and there was no woman who wanted to marry him.
However, the Lightning Ridge miners admired his determination and perseverance, and honored him as, "the single prince." After all, he had built a real castle.
The kitchen was so close to the hall that the friendly boss kept telling them about the town.
Everyone who came to the mine at Lightning Ridge had a story, especially in the years after the second world war.
Some of the more fascinating visitors of that era included Britain's ex-spies, former members of the Nazis party, members of the British royal family, former big stars, and some prominent members of the bankrupt government.
"All I'm saying is true. If you meet some of the older miners, you can ask them and they will back me up. I think they would love to talk to you about those thrilling years."
The boss promised them he was telling the truth. Perhaps he felt his stories sounded a little exaggerated, and was worried Li Du and the others would not believe him.
Li Du believed the boss, and there was indeed evidence for many of the things he had said.
The barbeque kept coming, and they began to eat.
The steak tasted great beyond expectations. The aromatic beef was combined with the fresh oysters, which were only seasoned with salt and black pepper, maintaining the original flavor of meat and seafood. Li Du and the others kept complimenting the boss on his great food.
Sucking the oil off of his fingers, Li Du asked, "Boss, what about the output of gems in this town?"
The boss quickly responded, "You're not traveling? Do you want to mine black opal?"
"Both. Wouldn't it be better if we found a good gem?" said Li Du.
The boss laughed and said, "You think it is so simple. Finding a good gem on the way? You think black opal is as common as a cow?"
He shook his head, pointed to his leg, and continued, "Do you know how I got this?"
Li Du guessed and said, "Because of mining? Was it smashed by the ore?"
The boss shook his head again. He said, "No. I found a good stone, and I was robbed. The robber hit me with his car."
Li Du was surprised. "The criminal was that arrogant?"
The boss shook his head again. "It wasn't a criminal. It was a fellow miner. He mined for two years but had found nothing, so he decided to rob me."
Li Du did not say anything. The reality of what the boss had described was truly cruel enough.
"I knew Richard, so I didn't sue him. I knew he was a good man. He was pressured by the reality of life," the boss said.
With that, the boss got emotional and explained, "Think about it, buddy. You have a wife and kids, and you have a hard job that pays enough to support your family.
"But you decided to quit because the job didn't pay enough for you to buy your wife Dior and Louis Vuitton, your kids wouldn't be able to go to Disney, and you wouldn't be able to buy a Mercedes.
"After you quit your job, you come to Lightning Ridge, and you think you're the chosen one, and that you're lucky, and you're going to find a million dollar gem here.
"And the result? You've been working for a month without finding anything, and your money is tight. You work for half a year, still nothing. Your wife has no money to buy clothes, and your children have no money to go to school. You worked for a year and got nothing.
"Who wouldn't be in despair? At that time, if a fellow as unlucky as you got a gem, wouldn't you go crazy?"
Seeing the owner's look of grief and anger, Li Du was startled and quickly handed him a glass of beer and said, "Calm down, old fellow, calm down."
After drinking the beer, the boss got a hold of himself.
"I'm sorry. I was emotional," he said.
Li Du patted him on the shoulder and said, "I understand. Digging a mine for gems is not an easy job."
"It's extremely tough. I sold my black opal, stopped dreaming, and opened the restaurant," said the boss.
Sophie said, "To be honest, you're a great cook. The steak is delicious."
The boss smiled. "Yes, I have confidence in that. In fact, my grandfather and father were both cooks. They once taught me patiently, but I did not learn well."
Another guest arrived and Li Du checked out.
Although the boss had warned them, Li Du still decided to enter the industry. After all, he had a little bug helper, had no economic pressure, and he was not the same as the other miners.
Driving the next day, Li Du saw the castle.
It was a small castle, built in a rough manner, with primitive brown-red ore. It looked good from a distance, but was not so beautiful close up.
However, considering it had been built by a miner on his own, it was amazing enough.
As the old saying went, though a sparrow was small, it had all its parts. Likewise, the castle had everything including a keep, a sub-castle, a tower, a chapel, a dungeon, a cellar, and so on.
The single prince eventually left Lightning Ridge and gave the castle to the town, which was set up as a tourist attraction. The entry fee was five dollars, and they could take pictures.
Li Du and his men turned around there, then drove out of the town center and into the mine.
Digging for opal at Lightning Ridge was not the same as digging in the national park, where you had to lease a piece of land and then use a machine to dig a hole in the mine to find gems.
It was dusty outside the town, and there were machines working on several construction sites.
Some were digging pits with excavators, while others were digging a mine. The miners went down into the mines with helmets, lamps, and pickaxes.
Li Du released the little bug in the surrounding land. It searched for a while but found no gems.
This was normal. The stones in Lightning Ridge had been dug up for decades and even hundreds of years, so the stones that were easy to find had already been found.
They kept driving and came to an interesting building outside the town. It was a bit like a castle or the Great Wall.
It was also the artwork of a miner who was said to have been sent to prison for the murder of his wife.
The story was akin to the Shawshank Redemption, but it was a little bit tougher. The miners carved their experiences into the walls of buildings.
The case was said to have attracted a lot of media attention after the building was finished, and Australian police had re-examined the case.
Looking at the building, Li Du sent the little bug into it.
As the little bug moved around the building, everything in the building appeared in his view, including the ore used to build the building.