Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Li Du smiled and shook his head. “This report is for their students. It doesn’t have that much influence.”
Sophie listened in silence until the middle-aged man went away disappointed. She asked in surprise, “Did I hear him right? He wants to tear this place down?”
Mr. and Mrs. Martin had been praising the charms of these ancient buildings, so Li Du did not say much about their unpopularity in his county.
Their county was a small place, not popular either as an academic subject or a tourist spot. These ancient buildings, therefore, were not a source of economic value.
The government was not keen on demolition. They decided to tear down some old houses and buildings more than a decade or two ago in order to expand the urban area, attract investment, and develop the economy.
However, they weren’t the only ones doing it. Many other county governments were also doing it. Some valuable ancient buildings in big cities were torn down as well.
The practice sparked protests from many architects and knowledgeable citizens, who said the buildings were a legacy of their ancestors and should be preserved for scientific research and tourism.
Yes, some of them were very valuable indeed.
After much criticism, local governments became more conservative and stopped demolishing ancient buildings.
However, it was not just big cities and developed areas that had become conservative. Even the administrations of remote, rural towns became extra careful.
In order to avoid public criticism, they kept some ancient buildings, and as long as they did not affect the development and construction of the city, they preserved them.
However, since they did not have many tourists in the county, the ancient buildings could not be turned into profit, and people who lived there did not earn enough money to enable them to move out of their old houses. Of course, they would not be happy.
In recent years, urban development was accelerating, and the economy was getting better and better. The land value in the county town rose with each passing day.
However, the old buildings could not be demolished, as the government was not willing to tear them down and developers could not afford to do so, so it was preserved. They envied other people, who got moved into new houses after their old ones had been torn down.
They didn’t care about the historical value of their houses. As ordinary people, they just wanted more money so that they could afford better homes and living conditions for their children.
When Li Du explained this to Sophie and the Martins, Mrs. Martin said, “People need to live. Their needs often conflict with the global decisions of the government.”
Mr. Martin asked suddenly, “You said that the markings on the bricks were put up at the time of the wall’s construction to prevent the masonry from being shoddy?”
Li Du knew that Mr. Martin would probably spot this, but he did not want to talk about it first.
These bricks were burned especially to build the wall, so how did they appear as part of the house’s structure?
This was another thing. In fact, many of the local old houses had been bulldozed in the past, and red brick big tiled houses were erected in their place.
Later, the government tore down part of the wall to expand the scale of the county. At that time, there was a trend to protect the old buildings, so the local people thought it was profitable to pick up the bricks that had been part of the wall and use them to rebuild the houses.
They thought that the government would develop tourism and take this opportunity to make a fortune, and the government did try, but without much success.
Therefore, the local residents had no choice but to keep living in their houses. Houses were not like Lego structures, they could not break them down just like that.
Li Du knew all the steps. According to their local traditions, building a new house had an important step called “beam.” That day, the master of the family would sprinkle sugar on the building site, as well as hand out snacks and small steamed bread loaves. When he was a child, they often didn’t have quite enough to eat, and he loved to go and grab that stuff at new houses with his friends.
He told Sophie some interesting stories about what happened when they snatched those delicacies, and he recalled his childhood, thinking, Time sure does fly!
He could not help but set the little bug out, thinking that it was a pity that the little creature could not travel back in time. Otherwise, he would have liked to go back to his childhood for a little bit.
In a coincidence, he had just taken out the little bug for an airing when suddenly someone came towards them and asked, “Hey, brother, do your foreigner friends want to buy antiques?”
“Do you have antiques?” asked Li Du.
The stranger looked suspiciously left and right, and said seriously, “Right, this is something, you see…”
Then he took out a painting from his knapsack and showed it to Li Du. “I found this when I was digging a basement for my house. This is definitely an antique. These are probably foreign pieces.”
When the roll was unraveled, an oil painting appeared, looking old due to oxidation. The red did not look bright anymore and green was faded, as was the gold, giving it an ancient look.
The painting was of a Chinese girl, dressed in a Qing dynasty costume, made of an upper part waistcoat decorated with small butterflies, and a phoenix tail skirt as the lower part. It looked like a real antique.
However, the little bug had no interest in this so-called ancient painting and was not excited by its appearance.
Li Du naturally understood the reason and said with a big smile, “Elder brother, I believe you dug this out, but if it was ancient, it would have rotten underground, isn’t that so?”
Unconvinced, the middle-aged man said, “There was a box in there. It looked very old as well. Really, you might want you to let your foreigner friend see it, get their own impression, and seek an expert to examine it. It is definitely antique.”
Li Du shook his head and said, “If this thing is truly antique, you can call in an expert appraiser. Once the authorities know it, you might get a reward of five hundred RMB and a silk banner in commendation.”
The middle-aged man looked disappointed and put away his painting, saying, “Never mind if you don’t believe me.”
The bystanders were laughing, and someone said, “This young man is not stupid.”
“Who believes in such tricks now?”
“Yes, how interesting, he unexpectedly got a painting and said it is an antique. This is a foreign style, we Chinese have ink drawings.”
Listening to their taunts, the middle-aged man got angry and said, “You know what? I really dug this out. You wait, I’ll sell it sooner or later, I’m sure I can get a good price.”
Saying this, he turned his head to look at Li Du again. “Young man, you spoke too rashly. You have kept your friend from making a profit. They’ll blame you later.”
Li Du hated dishonest people, and the sentiment was especially strong now after the housekeeping company cheated him. When he heard the man’s words, he decided to show him what he could do.
He quickly caught up with the man and sneered, “You said your painting was an antique, didn’t you? Let’s take a good thorough look at it, then. Today I’ll show you what a real expert is!”
After he finished speaking, he used the time reversal ability of the little bug.