Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Li Du and his people left with the oil painting. Liu Shan Yang had sent them off, all smiles, waving enthusiastically. “Hey, if I manage to dig up more treasures, I’ll look for you, haha.”
There were some neighbors who saw Li Du leaving with the oil painting. They said, “Oi, oi, oi, Old Liu, you’ve been in the scam trade for so many years. Have you finally managed to coerce a foreigner?”
Liu Shan Yang said unhappily, “Go to hell. What’s a scam and who’s coercing anyone? I told you guys that I dug these out when I was making a cellar.”
“Who’d believe that?” The neighbors sneered. “Ah, that young chap has got insufficient life experience; he fell into your trap.”
Liu Shan Yang ignored this and said proudly, “Think what you want. In any case, I made money. Hmm, I will get some good pork and wine. Today, I will have a good feast. Then, I will buy a house…”
“You cheated him of so much money?” The neighbors were shocked.
Liu Shan Yang glared at them and said impatiently, “D*mn it, idiots, I said those were antiques.”
More neighbors came out and they laughed, “Oh boy, when had you, Liu Shan Yang, ever done any honest business? That isn’t like you.”
“It’s not the Liu tradition either.”
Liu Shan Yang waved his hands. “Scram away. I’ve no time to stoop to your level. I’m going to buy a house and move out. All you poor blokes can stay here. Also, let me tell you, the paintings I sold off today are real antiques!”
Not just the neighbors who knew Liu Shan Yang well doubted him. Sophie and her parents, too, had the same misgivings.
Mr. Martin could not understand. “Why did you believe that man? He gave me a strange feeling that something’s not right about him, Li. I think he is not a legit businessman.”
Hearing that evaluation, Li Du could not help but feel bad for Liu Shan Yang.
That man coerced people into doing business with him. He relied on earning people’s trust to make money. However, it seemed like even Sophie’s naive family had a poor impression of him. How much worse would the savvy city people think of him?
However, he knew that Liu Shan Yang had not lied. Those oil paintings were the real deal and were painted by a Qing dynasty artist.
That was a rare name and Li Du had never heard it before. Hence, he used the English version of the name to search on the net.
Shi Bei Lin, that was the Chinese name of the artist.
The artist was not very famous but his background was truly unlike others.
He was one of the earliest oil painters in the area along the Pearl River Port in the Qing Dynasty. According to the records, he had started out by creating oil paintings on glass. The earliest existing glass portraits had his autograph in English, with the art pseudonym Spoilum: ‘Spoilum painted the pier in October 1774’.
With that background. Even though Li Du did not try to find out how much his work would be worth these days, he already knew that he would not suffer a loss buying those paintings.
The work of the earliest oil painter in China would not be cheap. He would definitely make a profit.
As Sophie and her family were still around, Li Du had to show them around the county town. He did not have much time to research further at the moment. Hence, he stashed away the oil paintings and continued driving around.
Ever since he left for America, he had never gone for a drive around the county town. Even though he had returned over last year’s New Year, he had only gone to attend a couple of gatherings. Otherwise, he had mostly holed up at home to keep his parents company.
Although he was not that young when he had left his hometown, Li Du was surprised at how much the place he had known transformed as he made his rounds. It seemed as though the familiar place had developed and changed too quickly and too much.
It had only been three or four years since he was here last time, but the entire place had become different.
That day, they explored the place and did sightseeing. He had also gained a lot, but that had been unexpected.
At night, Brother Wolf’s Passat returned and he transferred some of the photos into Li Du’s computer. Then, he continued to go through the new information they collected with Li Du.
They could only observe the company as part of their investigation. After all, the two men were foreigners and they stood out in the crowd. They could not ask the locals for information on the company without raising suspicion.
Besides, they did not have to do that. Du Hang had helped Li Du investigate the company, and sent him all the information he had.
It was no wonder that Soft Company could have their way in this town. The power that the company had was uncanny.
The day before, the employee named Du Yun had spoked to Li Du. He had mentioned that their manager and the assistant manager had gone to attend a happy occasion that the city mayor was celebrating.
He had said that to shake Li Du up, make him aware of the connections the company had.
Actually, that employee had not lied about everything. Although the manager and assistant manager were indeed in the county town, they had not gone to attend the baby shower of the mayor’s grandson,
However, the company was indeed quite powerful. They were in charge of the cleanliness and upkeep of the county’s administration compound.
In the past, the county leaders had live-in domestic help, but in the past two years, the entire country had been strictly reviewing the lifestyle of civil servants. Hence, the county leaders dispensed with their private domestics and handed over housework to housekeeping companies.
Hence, Soft Company took the opportunity to rise up to the occasion. Their services offered the county leaders peace of mind, and the boss of the company managed to widen his connections. In addition, as he had a good family background, he succeeded in growing his company.
For that, Li Du admired the boss. A housekeeping company was not something one could be very proud or something that would get one a seat at the big tables. To be able to get into the favor of the county leaders, it showed that the boss was rather capable.
However, that played right into Li Du’s hands. The more the boss of Soft Company relied on the county leaders, the easier it would be for him to carry out his plan.
Before he started on that, he had talked with Hans on the phone for the first time since he arrived in China. Hans told him that the Anthonys had landed themselves in a bad state. The two of them had been hospitalized.
That was no more than Li Du expected. He had made the Anthonys the scapegoat during his trouble with the Eagle Beak Gang. Based on the vengeful character of Eagle Beak Blade and his people, they would never have let the Anthonys go that easily.
Hans said, “George Anthony must have never been treated this way. The two of them had their ankles fractured. In the future, they will probably have to sit in a wheelchair when they attend auctions.”
Hearing that, Li Du was shocked. He had underestimated Eagle Beak Blade. That man was truly vicious. He had really beat up George Anthony to such a state!
George Anthony must not have expected that the Eagle Beak Gang would be so vicious. Otherwise, they would not have run off secretly. They would definitely have stayed behind to resolve the conflict with the Eagle Beak Gang head-on.
There was no way to undo what they did. Since George Anthony had decided to work together with those vicious gangsters, he had no choice but to face the results.
The tale of that incident has been circulating within the treasure hunter circle in the United States. After all, George Anthony was the first member of the Million Dollar Club to be beaten so viciously in the course of his work.
The treasure hunters in Arizona were amused. They were quite satisfied to see George Anthony get his comeuppance.