The lion hunter’s two mines were called Bimok and Tarasiko, which are words in the language of the local Zulu tribe. Bimok means land of hope and Tarasiko means lush hills.
Bimok was larger than Tarasiko, two hundred meters in diameter, and surrounded by a staircase that moved downwards. Two huge lifts were working to deliver the mined ore out to the surface.
The lion hunter handed out red construction helmets to Li Du and the others.
Inside the mine, each helmet color had its own meaning. Red was set aside for visitors, yellow was used for management personnel, white was for technical workers, and blue was for miners.
The people who came to visit the mine were mainly local government officials. They came either to show off or to ask for money. The workers despised them but gave them a grudging respect.
South Africa’s political reforms have given officials more power, and people at the bottom were eager to be on good terms with them.
Therefore, when Li Du and the others went down into the mine, some of the workers noticed them and gave them odd looks, annoyed, admiring and awed all at once.
The lion hunter called out, “It’s dangerous down here. You must keep your eyes on me and follow me. I don’t want any trouble with safety. Stick to me, okay?”
Many people went into the mine from Li Du’s side, and a throng of people followed down. Sophie did not need to go into the mine, but she was curious about the process of excavating diamonds and wanted to see it.
There were many caves in the large cavern, and as they descended, there was a dull rumbling sound at the bottom. It was the explosion of dynamite. The miners would follow and get into the hole created by the explosion.
The workers were on a staircase of work surfaces that were wide enough for them to rest, eat and play cards.
In addition to the workers on board, excavators, loaders and bucket lifts were also parked on the working surface. After the explosion, the workers followed the excavators inside.
Modern quarries required a lot of financial support, for example, to fund the elevator that transported Kimberley rock, which was much larger than a regular elevator. The main body was three or four meters high and extremely thick, carried by dozens of steel cables as thick as a man’s arm.
The lion hunter told Li Du that this lift could carry 240 tons of weight. It would run non-stop 24 hours a day to send 5,000 tons of Kimberley rock to the surface.
“This is really a steel monster. It’s so efficient,” said Li Du.
The lion hunter shrugged easily and said, “It’s nothing, man. When I was working at the Kimberley diamond crater, the elevator there could deliver 3,000 tons of stone in an hour!”
“So you worked at Kimberley’s diamond crater? It’s a place full of legends,” Li Du said.
The lion hunter smiled and didn’t say more, but as the elevator went deeper into the bottom of the mine, he began to talk about other tools.
Huge blowers worked below, accompanied by the whining sound, and a great amount of oxygen was pumped into the mine.
The ragged miners worked hard under the watchful eye of the supervisor, who kept noting something down in his book. The lion hunter said they were evaluating the miners’ performance and that it was about the reward money after the job would be done.
The mine was several hundred meters deep, and when Li Du stood at the bottom of the mine and looked up at the sky, his heart could not help but tremble.
Here, the sky was out of reach, and the sunshine was a luxury item. Even though the mine was funneled and had a large opening, the sun didn’t shine in until noon.
In addition, there was no vegetation, no animals, no wind and no birds to sing, only white-gray ore and various metal-colored machines.
There was a great deal of noise below the mine, of machines working and crushing the ore, and it was disturbing.
Li Du thought again of his original bet with Carlston. Diamond mining wasn’t easy, and he might have been a little hasty.
They began to descend into the holes which had been dug all around them, and they could not see the sky anymore. Nothing but the dim yellow light inside the mine suggested that it was sunny outside.
Some miners came and went, black and white, male and female, all with the same meaningless expression on their faces. They looked like walking zombies handling with the tools and acted like robots while working.
When they saw Sophie, the men inside finally had some changes in their expression.
For historical reasons, South African’s aesthetic is different from that of other parts of Africa, where men prefer the Western style of beauty.
The workers had never seen a white beauty in the mine, not even in a portrait, so Sophie’s appearance caused excitement.
A few men stood in a corner of the mine to stare at Sophie, and as other miners heard the news, each found a hidden corner to stand and look. Their looks were terrible, like a hungry wolf staring at a fat sheep.
Seeing his woman ogled in this manner, Li Du felt uncomfortable and said, “What are they doing? Haven’t they ever seen visitors? I think they ought to get to work.”
“You can’t control them. They were trapped here and now they are like beasts. If we disturb them now, they could get aggressive,” said the lion hunter, throwing away his cigar after two puffs.
Not everyone was interested in Sophie. Seeing the lion hunter cast his cigar aside, a woman came to pick it up and took a couple of puffs. Her face showed enjoyment. She then used a small blade to cut off the end of the burning cigar and carefully packed it in a plastic bag.
Sophie’s head was numb from the scene below and she said, “Oh my God, this is hell.”
Not long after, a line of people came into the mine. A strong naked black miner walked over to them, then started doing disgraceful stuff in front of Sophie.
Li Du could have borne it if they were just looking, but this was too much. He beckoned Brother Wolf to take action.
The big fellow was like a madman. Brother Wolf knocked him down with one blow, but he ignored him and shouted, “How pretty you are, my dear!”
Li Du was shocked. Everyone except the lion hunter and his men were shocked.
Even more shocking to them was that the big man was not just talking, he shamelessly kept touching his private parts until he climaxed.
Then, the big man seemed to know he was in trouble and suddenly fell down on his knees, pleading for mercy.
Li Du did not know if this man was mentally ill, nor did he dare to provoke this kind of people, so he decisively said to big Quinns and big Ivan, “Take Sophie up!”
They had only descended 20 meters below when this happened. Who knows what other crazy things could happen as they went deeper into the mine?