Li Du was shocked by the price he heard and exclaimed, "Its worth millions?! Professor, you must be joking! "
Dr. Clinken said, "No, Im not joking, what you have with you is the Mauritius dodos complete skeletal specimen. There are only five of these in the entire world!"
Li Du was thrilled; he couldnt believe what he was hearing. "Really? Is my specimen that rare? You mentioned that what I have is the Mauritius dodo, so do you mean the dodo lived in other places as well?"
Dr. Clinken replied, "Yes, besides the Mauritius dodo, there was also the Rodrigues dodo, which was slimmer than the Mauritius dodo, but flightless as well.
"In addition, there was another white dodo. In actual fact it was not a dodo, but a runion ibis, which belongs to the genus of storks that happens to be extinct as well..."
The professor said many things about the dodo, but the terms used were too specialized for someone like Li Du to understand.
He understood one major thing: the Mauritius dodo was discovered in the 17thcentury but became extinct shortly after.
At that time, people did not have the concept of species conservation, therefore many species like the dodo had suffered. Specimens like Liswhich had been preserved for hundreds of yearswere few and far in between. That was why the specimen was so precious.
"How did you preserve your specimen? Its a miracle that the specimen was so well preservedeven after hundreds of yearswithout decaying. This is truly exceptional," Dr. Clinken declared.
Li Du laughed, "Well Im not the one who preserved it. I got the specimen by bartering with the Amish..."
He gave an account of how he had gotten the specimen from the Amish to Dr. Clinken, who was amazed by his good luck.
After the enlightening conversation with Dr. Clinken, Li now understood that the Amish couple, Ricky and Ashley Tacoma, had not been lying.
During their lunch at the Amish home, Ricky had mentioned several times that the specimen had been around for several hundred years. Li hadnt taken it seriously or believed it was true, but he had been wrong!
Both Li and Dr. Clinken were very worked up about the specimen on the phone together. Dr. Clinken could not contain his excitement as he had found a complete dodo skeletal specimen, whereas Li Du could not believe that he owned a specimen that was worth millions of dollars.
After both parties had calmed down, the professor told Li Du a fact as well: the specimen might have been worth millions, but in reality, it was hard to sell for that kind of price.
"Its not hard to understand how it works," the professor explained. "Although the specimen is rare, most of the time, only museums are willing to buy them. And they might not want to pay so much for it."
Li Du was disappointed upon hearing that. "Okay, how much will your museum be willing to pay for the specimen?"
Dr. Clinken hesitated for a moment and said, "The price might be around 100,000 dollars."
Li Du felt like throwing his phone. The offer amount was a far cry from the millions of dollars he was told about earlier. Something that was worth millions could only be sold for a hundred thousand dollars?
But on second thought, this was still an unexpectedly high price. So he calmed down a bit.
However, it was hard for Li Du not to feel cheated, as the price difference was too significant. He even thought that he should just keep the specimen instead of selling it.
Li Du honestly told Dr. Clinken how he felt about the price difference.
Dr. Clinken said, "My friend, first of all, the specimen wont be of much use to you. With all due respect, Im afraid you're not interested in it.
"Secondly, I think you may not understand how to preserve the specimenthe cost of preservation might be a big sum of money as time goes by. And if the preservation is not done properly, it will become a heap of trash.
"Lastly, the real value in the dodo specimen is to teach people about the dodo, let them know what humans have done to destroy nature and other creatures in the past few hundred years. Shouldnt this be in a museum?"
Li Du hesitated for a while. "Youre right, professor, but I don't want to sell it at such a low price."
Dr. Clinken could make out the hesitation in Lis voice and suggested, "How about this: give me a location, and we can meet up to talk about this."
Li Du said, "Let me think about it, professor."
After talking to Dr. Clinken, Li Du somewhat figured out the reason why he could only see the past of the specimen in its current state.
The little bugs "Relive the Past" ability had a time constraint. It could only go back to a certain point in time; for instance, if the limit were 100 years, the little bug would be unable to show scenes that were over 100 years ago.
After hanging up the phone, he returned to his room looking at the skeletal specimen on the table.
His heart thumped. This thing is worth millions! he thought.
Unlike the antique Patek Philippe watch and the Batpod, getting the specimen had been purely a stroke of luckeven the motive for getting it hadnt been about money.
Ah Meow leaped onto the table, eyed the specimen lazily, and stretched out its claw in an attempt to scratch the specimen.
Li Du slapped Ah Meows paw and picked it up. "This thing is out of bounds! The two of you listen upI will lock up the one who attempts to touch this, understand?"
Crispy Noodles nodded its head obediently while Ah Meow seemed somewhat displeased; its sparkling green eyes looked as if it were concocting some sinister scheme.
Li Du would not take any chances. He threw Ah Meow into a cage and locked it up to eliminate any potential threat to his precious specimen.
Ah Meow was stunned. It desperately used its claws to try to open the latch. "Meoww! Meoww!"
Crispy Noodles sat beside the cage and looked at Ah Meow sympathetically but soon it was gloating over Ah Meows plight. Arent you formidable? Arent you awesome? But you still got locked up anyway.
In the afternoon, Hans left a voicemail for Li Du:
"Ive found some information about a Coke bottle collector. Well be meeting them in Phoenix tomorrow."
The next morning when they met up, Li Du inquired, "Im surprised you actually found a buyer in such a short time. Coke bottle collectors are pretty rare, right?"
Hans replied in a relaxed tone, shrugging his shoulders. "This is the advantage of being in the Hundred Thousand Club. The Association has a huge database of customer information. We now have access to a lot more information than before."
"Is that so?" asked Li Du. "Why did the Association set up their database in a hierarchy? Wouldnt it be better to just open up the database for all members?"
"Of course not, customer information is confidential," Hans shook his head and explained. "Think of it this way: some of the items these people collect might be so rare or valuable that the odds of an average treasure hunter contacting such a person are too small. Therefore, such information is only open to the higher-tiered members."
This reason was not enough to convince Li Du. However, he understood where Hans was coming from, because Americans valued their privacy rights. They were very concerned about the protection of privacy, which was something the Chinese could not relate to.
Li Du suddenly realized something. "By the way, I thought we werent yet members of the Hundred Thousand Club?"
Hans smiled and announced proudly, "Valerie has gone ahead and upgraded our access rights to that of the Hundred Thousand Club. She knows we should have joined the club much earlier, and the association is sometimes flexible."
They drove straight to Phoenix. Besides meeting up with the prospective buyer of the antique Coke bottles, they would also be attending an auction.